Monday, February 28, 2011

my sunday nights

I had a lovely sunday. i hiked up to the castle with some girls in the morning, cleaned, baked homemade cinnamon roles with Laura and Susan, had a sugar high for about an hour and proceeded to clean my house, do some laundry and rearrange my furniture. sunday night came around and i decided to make a fire in my wood stove. it was my most successful fire to date. unfortunately i enjoy watching fire, thus i opened the wood stove flap to observe the orange flame and before i knew it, my house was partly-cloudy. i had to open up some windows around 9pm to clear out the smoke. oops.

anyhow i pulled up my favorite armchair right next to the stove, red a book while drinking some çai (tea) with a bit of milk. it was a wonderful, wonderful evening. i'm definitely adjusting to the pace of life here.

the photos are mostly from last night, one from a brilliant moment on a train, in which i needed a cup to drink out of, so i hollowed out the orange i had in my bag and used it as a cup. the last picture was taken in shkoder. it depicts the water level during the flood that happened in december. 

thats all for now!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

help out those who help us

as you may have read, i'm planning a fundraiser for this wednesday in tirana. a former pcv, tausha, hooked me up with "Tirana Backpacker Hostel". they have agreed to let pcv's stay for a reduced rate of 500 leke on wed night, which is half their going rate! if you are planning on visiting tirana check them out here best hostel ever

this is the invite i designed

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Day in the Life of a PCV

My blog has become a reporting tool. blech. Let me translate reads like im applying for a job, detailing current projects, or maybe its like a todo list either way that CANNOT be interesting to read. I'm making a change, more anecdotes less blech-ness. Also I have enabled the comment section for non blogspot users as the majority of my viewers do not have accounts! 

alright, eh em. a day in the life of jen. 

I woke up this morning in my icebox of a house, under three blankets, two sleeping bags, a winter hat, two sweatshirts and a pair of leggings. I texted my fellow pcv's the following "I REFUSE TO GET OUT OF BED UNTIL MY HOUSE REACHES A SENSIBLE TEMPERATURE".  At this I lay in a fetal position. 45 minutes later I realize  I am being a tad unreasonable. I  get out of bed and hop over to my stove. Hopping because I am sure as heck not going to get out of my sleeping bag until I have injected some caffeine into my veins. I put the water on the stove, shuffle outside and use the restroom. I pass by the mirror. stop stare. shrug, while thinking, another zit?!!! Stupid Winter. 

I re-enter my kitchen to find that my stove was not actually on because the power is out. Something I had failed to realize in my groggy state.  "Well shoot," I utter-- speaking to myself has unfortunately become fairly routine. I pull out my gas burner and place the water on it. I stare at the water for a good five minutes, while thinking that the old adage about a watched pot never boils, is alarmingly accurate.  I shuffle over to my bed and check my received texts. I decide that I am warm enough to get out of my bag- of-a- heating- heaven. I hop out and promptly put on my house sandals, a must have in Albania since all of the houses are concrete and the floors are freezing. I start thinking about what i would like to eat for breakfast and weighing those options against the ingredients I have at my disposal.  I decide, being in an unusually difficult mood,  that I will settle for nothing other than pancakes. Unfortunately I am missing two important ingredients, 1/4 cup of milk and one egg. For half of a second I contemplate running down to a dyqan (store) to grab some milk and eggs, I refer back to my clock (AKA phone) and decide I do not have time for such shenanigans. I decide to substitute the milk for water and tried it anyway. I mixed flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and water in a bowl and gave it a proper mix. At this point my water is at a demi boil. I make a judgement call and poured the lukewarm water over my one- cup-filter and coffee grinds. Instant COFFEE! Thank you God. I place the pan on the gas burner while adding some oil and pouring the goes nothing. 
I have a few minutes to kill before the "pancake" is ready. In the meantime I hand copy a sudoku grid and the specified numbers (no available printer and no internet equals copying of sudoku grid I saved on my computer) on a recycled piece of paper. My pancake smells about done (I have developed quite a sense of smell in this country, which is normally a curse but in this case its like my own personal baking timer). I flip-flop over to the pan and to my astonishment it looks EXACTLY LIKE A is that possible?! Not questioning the small miracle I had just witnessed, I take a plate (still wet from washing the night before) and slap my beautiful flour, no-egg, no-milk cake on it. I dig in while looking perplexed at the sudoku grid.  I'm a little rusty....and WOW this is delicious! Still in awe of myself I nonchalantly gaze at my phone. Oh shoot,  I am running late! I walk over to my wardrobe, pick out the same fleece, scarf and long coat I have been wearing for the past three months, put them on over my pajamas and call it a day. 
I shove my new Mac computer in a folder (as I do not have a portable case) and run out the door. When boom it starts raining. Oh no, I think. I zip up my purse, that is currently housing my computer, and stand outside, while wondering how long the rain is planning on lasting. I shift my stance, debate, and begrudgingly unlock the door and head inside. I reach for my rain jacket, keep in mind, I am wearing four upper-body layers, plus a pound or two of what I call "winter weight," so instead of sliding into my coat it is more similar to a wiggle. As I wiggle my way into my jacket and start laughing hysterically because, well have YOU ever had to wiggle into a waterproof jacket?! 
I come to find that through this ridiculous process I have misplaced my keys. I retrace my steps, lift up pillows, check my eight pockets and finally spot them at the depths of my "Mary Poppins' bag". I get outside, look up and notice somethings different....oh right it is NO LONGER RAINING. I walk out onto my property passing by my landlords three cats and Onyx (the watchdog). I pet them as I trip down the set of unevenly spaced steps. 
I cruise our dirt path, onto the main road and start greeting people. On a four minute walk, I set up one meeting, resolved a scheduling issue and made a new business contact, now that is Albania for you. 

While this story has no real point, iI would say this is a much better portrayal of my life in Albania than my former posts. 

Hope you like my new spin on things! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

why did onsies go out of style?

hey all! i had an amazing weekend in Korça (southern Albania)! i was there for an Outdoor Ambassador's committee meeting, we're trying to transform the committee into an NGO which is pretty exciting stuff.  being a group of adventurous souls, we decided to take advantage of our location by skiing in dartha! the whole outing was as fun as it was hilarious. all 12 of us piled in a furgon (small bus), and braved the curvy, icy road to the slopes. with only one hiccup-- that involved all 12 of us exiting the furgon in order to push it past an ice patch-- we arrived at the lodge unscathed. 
the family run lodge/slope came fully stocked with equipment and clothing for rent. now think of what the colorado slopes looked like in the early nineties, hopefully your thinking magenta onesies, mismatching poles and white, horribly uncomfortable ski boots, and bam that was us! one of the volunteers, terry literally had his boots tied on by rubber and a shoelace. by the time we were ready to brave the slopes, we looked absolutely ridiculous! 
the most challenging part of skiing, for me, was the damn rope take that VERY literally, it was a rope! no handles, and only one grip that consisted of another rope wrapped around the original rope.  i lack upper body strength, therefore i would make it up half way, let go, shimmy out of the way to avoid getting trampled. then i would pop off my skis (my bindings were very....forgiving) and hike up the mountain, ski the two minutes down the slope and repeat the process. i grew up in colorado thus skiing is like riding a bike. the first few runs were comical at best but by the end of the day i was racing, and jumping my way down the hill. i had a blast! we finished the day with some mulled wine, french fries and a ride back down the mountain from the owner of the ski lodge. the best part is, the entire day (equipment, transport, food, drinks, 'lift' ticket, etc) cost 1000 leke which is about ten dollars! can you believe that?! as of now, i don't have access to those ridic pics so instead im using an image i got offline, to be replaced with nineties gear photos when they become available! 

Today we are having a local newscaster /friend come into our english class to talk about career paths with our students. i'm looking forward to the discussion/ what our students would like to pursue professionally.

lastly, i received an awesome email from a couple that i use to wait on at Enterprise Fish Company in Santa Barbara (post graduation/ prior peace corps i was working 3 jobs, waitressing being one of them in order to save up for my traveling adventures)! It is so AWESOME how much unexpected support i have received from people! thank you all for your emails. messages and letters! you guys serve as my ongoing inspiration! thank you gene and kay :)

please keep it coming! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

happy valentine's day!

Hey all you wonderful LOVEly people, im wishing you a happy valentine's day....a little late i know! I thought this was a perfect opportunity to touch on "dating in albania". If i said this phrase to any group 13 volunteer you would hear GROANNNINGG because we had a plethora, a heap, a load, a bunch of sessions on this topic during training and boy were we tired of hearing about it. but alas that does not exempt me from educating you all on the intriguing dating culture of albania.  here is the dl basically everyone has to secretly date until they are engaged. when they are openly engaged its all good and the couple can live together before the wedding ceremony. as boys will be boys and girls will be girls, and hormones will be hormones, boys and girls do date BEFORE they are engaged. shock and horror i know. BUT they have to date secretly. what does this mean for valentine's day? it means that all of the teenagers go on dates three days after or a few days before the holiday, as to not raise suspicions. im currently watching a group of high schoolers on a group date, only the boys and girls are sitting at separate tables, exchanging glances, giggles and secrets. ah to be young and in love in a culture that doesn't accept modern dating rules. such a glorious thing to behold. 

any who as far as work goes, well im kicking some bootayyyy. the breast cancer project subsidized by the italian comuna of leverano culminated in a huge bc presentation for 300 women in shengjin (beach community 15 minutes outside of lezhe). it was a big crowd not only in numbers but in matter of importance in the community. the director of public health, lezhe, bashkia representatives, donors from italy and the national and local news stations attended our presentation and boy did we rock it! this week is another big guy full of meetings with world vision, and an OA meeting in Korca.  

any who thats all for now! missing you all! 


Monday, February 7, 2011

teaching dance in shkoder

this past weekend i taught dance class to 20 girls for two days, working on two routines, and enjoying it TOO much! 

jk but i had an amazing time teaching this weekend. im feeling more and more confident in my teaching abilities (between health, english and dance lessons). i also sat in on a book club started by jessi and tiff (two volunteers in shkoder). i learned some new vocab and met some new peeps. the volunteers did an awesome job by brokering a GAD related discussion, specifically a woman's role in society. 

i am working this weekend as well. i don't know when work got so busy?! on saturday i will help run a session on breast cancer with bardha for 300  factory workers (in shengjin, beach community 15 minutes outside of lezhe). this project is the culmination in her year long project with an italian organization. 

i ended up recording the dance class for my papa, but im down to share it with you guys too! 

the girls i taught spoke amazing english so i conducted my class in shqiplish., i.e. shqip and english. if you dare click ketu (this video is unlisted meaning you can only view it with the link in order to protect the privacy of the students).  im uploading another video that highlight teaching/ speakin shqip but it's taking an eon to upload so i'll give you all a link when it's finished!
**fyi learning shqip had confused my prepositions, i apologize if the wording is confusing!