Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sorry about going all MIA

Since the key to blogging is consistency, suffice it to say that I have lost my key and haven't any idea where I may have left it. Sorry folks.

But I was out of town from Saturday morning through Tuesday evening for a volunteer visit and just couldn't be bothered to upload photos and edit things, etc. Selfish, I know. I also just ate 8 cookies. So I'm not with it.

Jill (from Pajove as well) and I went up north to Rreshen to visit a group 15 volunteer named April. We're group 16 - so that means April has been here a year and has a year to go. She is also a health volunteer, which is part of the whole reason for the trip: see what life is like for a real PCV out on their own in their own community.

Jill and I took a furgon to (we thought) Tirane, but ended up on a railroad bridge/open market/pothole family reunion. Thankfully, the dude who got on the furgon with us in Pajove turned out to be a friend of Jill's host brother who goes to school in Tirane and was helping us get there. (Did you catch all that?) He had us hop out of the van and run to catch a weird charter bus with curtains, which took us through Durres and then to Tirane. So our route (in green) actually looked like this:

Which isn't that bad, because the road between Elbasan and Tirane is HORRENDOUS AND WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.

When we got to Tirane, Friendly-Student got off before us....and then the bus stopped, the driver got out, yelled at random people, and then started smoking in the middle of a roundabout intersection. So I asked another passenger (in suuuuper bad shqip) if he thought we should all get off, but he was Italian and was no help. THANKS ITALIAN STRANGER. And the only other people on the bus were two older women who just wanted to talk to Jill and I about our blonde hair. Figures.

So, we got off the bus, called April (who was meeting us in Tirane), but we were still so far out of town that she didn't have any idea where we were. Thankfully, someone who spoke English overheard us and told us to hop on a city bus. Now, Madison buses are unpredictable enough - and Tirane is a thousand times bigger and did I mention in EASTERN EUROPE? This is what we looked like on the city bus:

Please don't ask me about my face. I don't want to talk about it.

And then some creepy dude was all, "I'm worried for you two beautiful tourist girls who don't know about traveling don't show your camera and your shqip is very good let's practice my English and I wear deodorant  because I've been to Italy."


Thankfully, we got off eventually at found April and some others. We had coffee with all the PCTs going up north for visits at the Taiwan Center, which is basically a little slice of America.

After that, we hopped on another furgon for a two hour trip through the mountains up to Rreshen. It was a beautiful drive, except for the part where vegetarian animal-lover Jill saw a dead cat being carried across the street on a shovel. But other than that, a beautiful drive.

The highlights of the trip included: April, who's awesome because she made us TACOS; tacos; conditioning and blow-drying our hair (vain, yes - deal with it); American movies; going to Lezhe to see a castle; hiking up a mountain by the city to see the big iron cross; and tacos.

The hospital in Rreshen

April and another volunteer, Alex, who is returning to the US soon.

Yay! I showered with conditioner and blow-dried my hair for the first time since leaving the US!


These last photos are from the nearby city of Lezhe on the Adriatic. The castle is Scanderbeu's, an Albanian hero from the middle ages.


When we had to leave (SAD FACE), we took the scary route home from Tirane. Somehow we lucked out and got all 12 PCTs in Tirane at the time into the same furgon for the trip, which made it endurable. I wish I had pictures of the mountains/trip - it's as beautiful as it is deadly. (NOT DEADLY MOM, JUST SLIGHTLY PULSE-RAISING). Buuuuuut my camera died. Sad day. Also, we were almost off the mountain when some moron in a Mercedes tried to pass us and hit us...but no biggie. It's not like I jumped a foot and swore or anything. Or like I was the only one on the furgon to do so. Nope.

But we're all back, safe and sound. And don't hate me for not using umlauts. Blogger only lets me copy and paste them, and let's be honest - I'm waaaaaaaaay too lazy for that.

Peace (corps) out, girl scouts.


  1. Your selfie!!! ....your'e beautiful. Gosh, I just love reading your stories, I feel like the might cry.

  2. Panoramics all over the place!! Love it, love you! (and that selfie too)

  3. Mary, all I can say is WOW. I'm glad your super creative, great spirit and fun reading adventures with the Peace Corp. help keep my pulse at a minimum. I love you and I am very proud of your strength and what you are doing a bazzillion miles from home. Keep up the blogs however short, unedited, un-cropped they may be. Back here in the US we are following you and love to get your smile however we can. Also, thank you cell phones and thank you Skype and keep enjoying. XO Mom

  4. Thanks for sharing I am injoying it although concerned as well. Ben

  5. I LOVE LOVE LOVE comments! It's nice to know that none of you get bored while reading the blog. :) And maybe next time I'll post a selfie of what I normally look like here in country...but you may not want to see it. Don't worry, I'll add a disclaimer.

    Love to all!