Pellumba Caves

The Hash on 25 August was to the Pellumba Caves, in the mountains on the way to Elbasan. &nbspThe day was broiling hot – in the high 30’s celsius, which puts it in the 90’s fahrenheit – and a correspondingly smaller number of hashers came out for the event. The drive was relatively quick, despite the winding nature of the road, and soon we were at the base of the mountain. &nbspAfter some instructions on how to get there, we were off. &nbspI’d worn light hiking boots instead of running shoes and, while this was a good decision for the…

The National Gallery

This past Thursday, I went to the National Gallery of Art with an Albanian friend. Some of the internal galleries were closed – hopefully just for renovation, since there were a number of works I’d seen in my Albanian art book that weren’t on display – and the works that they did have on display were not, as a whole, competent but not spectacular. Albania does have some fine artists, like Vangjush Mio, but it does not have the artistic heritage of, say, France, or its own stylistic vision like American impressionism; and forty-odd years of “socialist realism” and cultural…

Kala Petrela

Last Friday, we met a college friend of Abby’s who came to Albania as a missionary in 1991 and is now developing residential real estate (God apparently doesn’t pay very well). &nbspHe took us out toward Elbasan, and we came to Kala Petrela which at one point had been part of the local defensive structure and now, with the later addition of a wooden structure, is a restaurant. &nbspAlthough he and Abby already knew each other well, I knew we had something in common too (besides the Penn connection) when we arrived at the base of the castle and both…

More on the same

My mother asks in an e-mail whether the dog has stopped “piddling” in the house. Despite our best efforts, we still find the occasional yellow puddle (sometimes fresh, sometimes dried) near one of the balcony doors. (I’ve had to start keeping the pantry door shut; it has one of the balcony doors, and the sun warms the floor up to a comfortable temperature …). I try to leave the back door open to the yard, but Cooper doesn’t always realize that he can outside by himself. And if the door is closed, he might sometimes whine to announce his intentions,…

Albania Time

A quick post: Still no internet at my house. &nbspThe engineer from the company we want to use was scheduled to come yesterday. &nbspHe showed up at 4:45, looked at where the satellite dish would go, and then announced that there was some kind of problem connecting with the antenna located in the mountains – the same mountains, mind you, that you can see in the photographs from the previous blog entry. &nbspAnd the same antenna that services the satellite dish located exactly at the house next door, from where I’m writing at the moment. &nbspSo theoretically they are working…

Hashing and Cooper

This is the view from our balcony … On Saturday, Abby agreed to watch the dog while I went to the Hash. The Hash was on a beach south of Durres, Albania’s main port. The trip was a funny thing: there’s a major beach road that runs south through Durres, from which you can see the ocean to the right between all the buildings that have sprung up in the last seven years; then the road turns inward, or perhaps the coast turns outward, and you lose sight of the water, but it still feels like you’re on a beachfront…

Day 10

It’s been 10 days. &nbspIt seems that the 10 months of Albanian training were highly useful; I’ve been able to converse with people that I’ve met, and I’ve understood about 85 percent of what I’ve heard. &nbspOf course, it is the 15 percent that you don’t understand that gets you into trouble, but that’s where Unë nuk flas shqip mirë, me ngadal&euml, ju lutem comes in handy. &nbsp(I don’t speak Albanian well, more slowly, please.) &nbspThe blackouts continue daily, but our generator works well. Cooper has calmed down considerably after five days, and he has responded well to some training….