Tuesday, September 21, 2004


We take so many things for granted living in the U.S. It’s a given that in an apartment you will have a dishwasher, a washer and dryer (or at least a Laundromat close by), heat, air conditioning, running/hot water at all times, 50 brands of soap on the supermarket shelves. (Supermarkets in general, for that matter. For crying out loud, we have dairy aisles that moo at you when you open the case. Is that really necessary??) These are all luxury items - serious luxury.

As I have mentioned before, the power goes out here frequently and unannounced. Most businesses have gas powered generators that kick in when this happens. (It's a running joke that the national anthem of Kosova is the humming of the generators.) Running water ceases to exist after 10 or 11 p.m. Air conditioning? Clothes dryer? What’s that? I have not seen a microwave oven since I have been here, not even in the shops – much less in a home. I would never rent an apartment in the States that didn’t have a dishwasher or a dryer. Here, I am thankful to have a tiny little washer and a rack to dry my clothes on. I have a hot water heater in the kitchen, but the water pressure is so low when you use it, it might as well not exist. So I've taken to washing dishes in the bathtub. I have a heater in one room in my house, but it has an accumulator that stores up energy so that I don't freeze to death when the power goes. When winter comes, I'll be cooking in a coat and mittens. I also have a battery that powers one light and the TV (there's priority for ya). The battery and the accumulator are considered luxury items here, not everyone has these. They just make do without.

For all of this, Kosova is considered a “greater hardship” post. I don’t really find these things to be hardships so much as much as inconveniences. I do have everything I need, or I can at least make do with what’s available. The greatest hardship I’ve experienced so far is not being able to dry my hair in the morning because the electricity is out. Big deal. Ok, so talk to me in 3 months when it’s 5 below and the electricity has been out for days and my story might change. I guess one of the things that living overseas has given me is a broader definition of “necessity.” Adaptability is the name of the game. Being able to go with the flow or not is the difference between happiness and misery. It can be a fine line sometimes. So if I ever start to sound whiny, someone remind me that I chose this position.

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