Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kish i Laç, Part Dos

Part 1 here.

So, it turns out the church is a very old, very important chapel on top of a mountain overlooking the Adriatic. I could be wrong, but I think what I understood was that it was the first landing point of missionaries in northern Albania when Christianity first came to the country over a millenium ago. Dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua (who always finds my lost stuff, thanks bro), many Orthodox Albanians travel to the church on June 13th (happy birthday, Mom!) to pay homage. There was a statue and people rubbed clothes and pictures on it for blessings. There was a cavern whose floor is completely covered with the wax of centuries of candles. There's a little crypt with a head-shaped hole in the ceiling that if you put your head in, it will impart wisdom to you.

Not to mention, the views were breathtaking. The land is pretty flat for miles inland and then rises sharply as the mountains begin (no foothills...just, suddenly, mountains); the church is situated right in the front of the parading peaks and so you can see practically to Italy. (Not really. But far. Very far.)

Rubbing, kissing, hugging, polishing, petting, and smashing children into St. Anthony.

I LOVE the northern traditional dress for the old ladies. They wear their hair in two long braids that they loop under their ears and crisscross over the top of their heads, under a bandana-like kerchief. It's adorable and they look like they hobbled out of a Grimm story.

Somehow we made it home. It took us over an hour to get down the mountain (we stopped at every stall on the way down. I wish I was joking.), and there were multiple times when I had to focus simply on the "serenity to accept the things I cannot change" part of the serenity prayer. But it was a beautiful day, in a beautiful place, with wonderful (albeit crazy) Albanians.

But I'm never getting into a car even slightly unclear on the details with Lena ever again.

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