Wednesday, April 27, 2011

hike from progonat to himara

went on an awesome hike with 10 pcv'- most of whom are leaving soon. it was a bittersweet weekend. we hiked 13.36 mi the first day, starting outside of tepelena (progonat) and finished camping near a town called kuç.. The second day we hiked from kuç to himara, about 12 mi. shockingly enough, when i rounded that final mountain on our ascent, it was my first glance at the southern coastline. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING! The sea down south is much bluer than up north. additionally it has that ridiculously beautiful white sand/ rock beach, unlike the tan colored sand up north. Himara felt like a different nation, and sounded like one too, as they speak more greek than albanian. my study abroad in greece managed to come in handy, who knew?!. I stayed with Meredith (pcv) in himara for an extra night to soak up the sun and the gorgeous view.. after the other 'argonauts' left, we met mere's friend fred for a coffee. it was interesting to hear a southerners impression of the north. there are a lot of predjudices/ misconceptions about the northern folk in albania. albanians who have never seen/ lived in the north often ask me about the mentality of Northerners. they are always surprised when i say how wonderful and similar they are to people in the south.  i think the northerners are very, very kind people and although i loved the southern coast i'm very happy with my site. 
anyhow back to the hike, at one point we were walking down a river valley having to cross the river from side to side, when the banks disappeared. it was slightly comical seeing all of us undress our feet, tip-toe over slimy rocks in freezing water with a grin and bear it expression.--all of us VERY determined to get to the other side. seth (PCV) got creative in  his stubbornness (wheN he refused to take of his shoes like the rest of us) and made a makeshift bridge out of two large logs.
the campfire was more bon appetite than i had anticipated. people busted out pesto, bulgar wheat, tuna salad with almonds and apples.. . . . it was as surprising as it was delicious. 
today i'm back in site and spoke for an organization CAAP, that is encouraging volunteerism in albanian youth. laura and i spoke about our experience and what inspired us to join the peace corps. i reminded the group as well as myself that volunteering doesn't have to be a huge project, it can be a small act of kindness. i hope thats one point that stuck with them. this week we have a community clean up in a neighboring area (the clean up was made possible with an OA earth grant, from the fundraiser we threw in march). i'm looking forward to meeting new people and getting my hands dirty. 
till tomorrow., peace out. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

geeking out

recently i've become very interested in learning more about website design/ coding/ hosting etc. My sitemate laura referred me to adobe kuler. it helps you create complimentary color schemes.. if you're interested visit cool-er

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

testing fonts

i've been told that my font is hard to read, so i'm working on uploading/ importing a new font, if you're looking to learn how to do that take a look here blog font. 
i'm going to give you guys a few options and you can vote under comments

1. cathi pea 2 capps   3. orange you glad to see me 4. tahoma moma 5. arno are no pro.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

yikes a bee

its been too long. sorry friends. 

im going to start it off with a cute anecdote to piggyback off my facebook post. my site mate laura was leaving the office, and she told her coworkers that she was 'going to enjoy the sun'. her adorable female coworker stuck up her thumb and said 'like'. tehe

i had a friend -that i volunteered with in the states- come to visit for a week. it was cool being able to show him around my city. we saw quite a bit including: castles, memorials, hiking 'trails', beaches, villages, big cities, the capital, and met volunteers and locals alike.  being able to show him around demonstrate the amount of knowledge i've accumulated while being here.  it served as a great time to reflect upon my service thus far, and to look to the future. 

i've decided that there are a few major projects im going to take on. the most overwhelming being looking for funding for a public mammogram machine (either used/ new) for lezha. those of you that have been following since the beginning have noticed a trend of projects, all to do with breast cancer. it is something i had no intention of pursuing but life has a funny way of leading you to a path you hadn't planned on. to my surprise and delight, i'm very passionate about breast cancer. Or rather the education of and resources available for women with breast cancer in albania.

part of me believes that i can truly impact my community within my next year here. i spend a lot of time in transit from one place to another. in that intermediary time i daydream of putting on a huge dance performance for the community. somehow tying it in with a health cause...that would be pretty awesome i think...sorry im drifting.

i also ought to mention that local elections are in high gear in lezha. viktor tushaj, incumbent and part of  the LSI party is running against a former mayor this year. meaning the competition is stiff.  the main xhiro looks more like sunset blvd than a small city in albania-- due to the mass poster-ing of candidate slogans and pictures (WERE TALKING BIG BIG PICTURES). i cant comment on the political-ness of it all but i can say that the posters are a bit comical. men in suits against a historical, green background with an all-knowing smile. it's priceless.

i haven't spoken much about what a friend called 'the communist hangover' in albania. which is mainly the leftover mindset of the people due to their upbringing in a communist society. for instance one person decides to open a store selling x, y and z. suddenly on either side of said store are two more stores with the same products and pricing. there are many, many examples of the communist hangover. i thought i would introduce the concept and throw examples of them in every now and then, when the mood strikes. 

finally i pulled this quote from the article "what the muslim brothers want"  (in odes to the egypt crisis/ protests) that was in the herald tribune about a month ago.  ive been meanig to post about it so here it is--
As our nation heads toward liberty, we disagree with the claims that the only options in Egypt are a purely secular, liberal democracy or an authoritarian theocracy. secular liberal democracy of the american and european variety with its firm rejection of religion in public life is not the exclusive model for a legitimate democracy-- Essam El Errian
I thought it was good food for thought. i often see what albania could be from an american framework. it is important to remember that there is more than one path to gain legitimacy as a country and to function as a democracy. 
for me democracy lies on a continuum. each county considering their historical past can plop themselves down on the line varying from liberal to conservative interpretations of democracy. perhaps egypt will find itself on the line but its whereabouts are still under investigation.

my good friend and fellow volunteer, john and i had an interesting discussion the other day. he said something that is simplistic yet is resonated with me. he mentioned that most people want the same things, but we disagree on how to get there. in this case perhaps the MB, america, and the world want a democratic/peaceful solution for Egypt, but we may disagree on how to get there.

all of this serves as a good reminder that although i believe in the american system and framework, it may not be entirely applicable to albania. thus i need to be more flexible in the options and ideas i bring to work....

random musings. 
happy tuesday!