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.