Monday, September 27, 2004

Newness wearing off

Well, as the days creep by with not much to do, the shiny happy feeling of learning a new town is starting to wear thin. It's hard to believe I've only been here a little over two weeks. It feels like an eternity. I've had a million meetings with not much coming out of them. The classes with the Journalists are in limbo at the moment, and my classes at the University won't start until November. The only one of my projects that is moving forward is the Army magazine. I've enlisted the help of some other Fellows from around the globe to submit pieces for the Teen magazine. I thought it would be good to show how teenagers face the same issues whether in the States, in Kosova, or even in Indonesia... where ever. Since the point of the magazine is to bridge cultures here, why not expand the views to a broader range?
Anyway, I've taken a few trips to some of the other 'cities' in Kosova in the past couple of weeks to deliver the latest issue to schools. I've posted some pics of this beautiful little area, it really is pretty here once you get out of Prishtina. So far I've been to Prizren, Peje and Gjakova. Friday we're heading out to a school in North Mitrovica, which is a primarily Serbian community, the first I'll have visited. The town of Mitrovica is divided by a river - the North side is Serbian and the South side is Albanian. KFOR troops guard the bridge and it is rare for either ethnicity to cross to the other side. This is the town where the rioting started last March, and quickly spread throughout Kosova. You can see some of the damage caused by the Albanians burning Serb houses in the pictures of Prizren. Evidently over 60% of Peje was also destroyed, but we didn't go through that part. There's so much construction everywhere, it's amazing. Engineers and architects could make a fortune in Kosova.
This weekend we're (me and the other ELFs) are heading down to Skopje, Macedonia about an hour or so away to visit the ELFs there, swap materials, do some hiking, maybe some rock climbing (yea!!) and just get the heck out of Prishtina. The weekend after that I'm going to Ohred (the h is pronounced at the back of the throat, all German hock-a-loogie like) with on of the Albanian girls that works at the American Center. Ohred sits on a lake and is about a million years old... not really, but there are several 9th-14th century monasteries and churches there, all nestled in the mountains overlooking the lake. The guide book I have is gorgeous! Hopefully the weather will be better there than it's been here the past few days. I've only just begun to experience the muck and mud that Fall brings with it. It's been cold and rainy for 4 days now, and the road behind my house is a giant quagmire. I really didn't think it was possible to accumulate that much mud on one's shoes in a short period of time, but I'm still learning about the ways of the world. The positive - what a great work out to lift 9 pound mud-covered hiking boots with every step. I'll be a swimsuit model in no time!!! (uh- huh, riiiiight)
My Albanian lessons are progressing slowly, I still struggle with pronunciation, and unlike Spain, I'm not forced to speak it every day. It's very easy to get by here without one word of the language. As a matter of fact, more than half the people in my class have been here 2+ years and can't say more than "Hi, can I get a cup of coffee please?" This, by the way, is also the limit of my vocabulary. It's sad. However, as all business here is done over coffee, and the coffee is remarkably good (still doesn't hold a candle to my favorite place in Rome), the phrase "Nje makiato i modhe, ju lutem" does tend to come in handy.
So all in all, things aren't so bad, I'm just bored. I haven't been posting because nothing's going on, at least nothing that's worth writing about. I bought a combination hand-mixer/blender today, and that's about the most exciting thing that happened to me all weekend. I hope you're as excited about it as I am. Here's to some good misadventures this week, and more lively posts! Cheers!

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