Thursday, September 19, 2013

Things I Love About Albania

First of all, motivate meeeeeeeee. PEACE CORPS HAS SUCKED MY LIFE FORCE.*

I'm feeling peevish and petulant, so now, to force me into a better mood (because nothing says Peace Corps like totally uncalled-for grouchiness and inexplicable irascibility), here's a list of wonderful things I wish we had more of in the good ole' USofA.

1. Easy laughter

Albanians laugh so easily. Which is ironic, considering Eastern Europe's (well-deserved) reputation of stony faces and grumpy stares. Women have to walk down the street with their best bitch-face forward to ward off unwanted male attention; but get them in a group for coffee - a safe space - and the giggles and guffaws and grins commence in force. I don't even have to try and people will laugh at my stories. (Heaven forbid I forget that I'm actually a horrible storyteller...I can make Harry Potter sounds like Great Expectations. It's truly a gift of mediocrity.)

At first I thought there was some sort of miscommunication going on, but I gradually discovered that Albanians just love to laugh and will do so at the slightest provocation. It's refreshing, and fun, and joyful. And I love it.

photos by Joyce from the Gramsh Girls' Camp...which I have yet to blog about.

2. Repeated Greetings. Repeatedly. Repeatedly.

This is another thing that really weirded me out with its apparent in-necessity. When Albanians greet one another, it's often (in one breath), "How are you? How are things going? What are you up to? How have things been? Good? You're good?" It seems excessive...and it is. But it shows the hospitality inherent to Albanian culture.

It's also much more sincere than in the States. Another common phrase, used as a greeting or an awkward-silence-filler, is, "Je merzite?" or "Je lothur?" Which means, depending on the situation, "Are you bored/annoyed/bothered/tired/ok/well?" Now that I think of it, maybe it's so common to me because I walk around with a shqip-induced comatose look half the time...

Also, after having lived in Albania, I reserve the right to do the two-four kiss greeting when I see people without being pretentious. SCORE.

3. Coffees

Yes, I've talked about it ad nauseum. But, yes, it's not uncommon to go to three or four coffees a day. And you know what? We get more stuff done at coffees than we ever could in the dingy offices in which most of us work. Why not go for a change of scenery and a little pick-me-up? It seems the most normal thing in the world now...and it bothers me to think of returning to the run-till-you-die work ethic back home. Seriously. Life's so much nicer when you stop to smell the roses coffee.

coffee with Lena...always.

4. Lipstick

The brighter, the redder, the bolder, the better. It's fantastic.

modeling Jill's manic-pink lipstick with out language teacher, Besa, back in PST.

*LOLz when did I ever have any motivation.

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