Friday, October 28, 2005

I'm now a shopper!

I wish I could show you the anguish that would come to my face when my mother used to say "We're going to the mall!" I would groan and grumble until it was time to go home. The only fun part was getting to drive the 45 minutes to the nearest mall when I got my driver's license. But my recent trip to Athens has shown me that I've been transformed! I believe this is due to the lack of Wal-Mart's. It used to be my one-stop-shopping place. But since there's not a lot of variety or quality here in Albania, every chance I get to see something different or just go window shopping is enjoyable. It seems like I take every advantage I can to get the things that I can't find in Albania (or are way too expensive to buy). I think Mom would be proud!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

land of hypochondriacs

As you've probably heard on the news, the bird flu is hitting Eastern Europe, as close as Romania or Turkey. The reaction of some Albanians is not to eat any more poultry products. So it's becoming much more difficult to find eggs and chicken in the stores. Albanians are typically hypochondriacs, and no matter what ailment you have, their response is "You've caught cold." And you had better not drink cold water or you'll get a sore throat. And if you have a sore throat, don't by any means, eat ice cream or anything cold! My favorite is this: if you're a girl and you sit on the cold cement without anything underneath you, YOUR OVARIES WILL FREEZE! Sometimes I just have to chuckle, but sometimes it gets downright frustrating. Especially when you're not allowed to walk barefoot in your own house! I guess 50 years of limited access to the outside world has had its toll on the medical field as well as everything else! :)

bus cram

One of the "fun" parts of living in Albania is public transportation. It's usually not a pleasant experience. Not only do they not run on a regular schedule, but just when you think "There is NO possible way more people could fit in this space", they somehow FIND room! You get to hear them yelling "Move up more so people can get on" while I'm thinking "WHERE exactly do you want me to go??" Sometimes they are literally hanging out of the bus! My favorite bus story has to be when I thought there was no room left so I was standing on the stairs when along came a woman who thought otherwise and helped me out by placing her hands on my buttocks and pushing me up the steps. Talk about invasion of personal space!! And then when it's your stop, you have to push by all the people so that you can get out before the driver decides to slam the door shut. And you have to make sure that you keep track of your things because pickpocketers sometimes work in conjunction with the bus drivers! But today was one of my unusual good experiences where I actually got to use my bus ride as a prayer time and just really thanked God for not being stressed out about it. Praise God for small miracles!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

scribbling away

While vacationing away in Athens, Greece and realizing how different life was just across the border, I realized it would be good to let people know the litte idiosyncrisies that make my life so different here. Feel free to comment away if you have any advice or just find humor in my Albanian lifestyle! For example, a few things I noticed in Greece that it was nice having manhole covers so that I didn't have to worry about falling into a big, gaping hole while walking down the street! In Albania, the gypsies steal them and scrap them for the metal, and then the government has to turn around and buy them back! Crazy!