Some experiences and observations:
- The other week, I was walking through one of Kosovo’s larger cities with some fellow Peace Corps trainees, all three of whom happen to be blonde and blue-eyed. I joked that I looked like a local, showing my American tourist friends around.
- The next day, during one of our training conferences, a Kosovar man I didn’t know sat across from me and said something low and rapid and in Albanian. I said, “What?” in English, and he looked surprised. He apologized and said he thought I was Albanian because I look Albanian (I took it was a compliment. ;))
- I went to the phone store to add minutes to my phone. The man behind the counter spoke English. At one point, he asked me a question. I replied, “Po” (yes). He jokingly asked, “Are we speaking English or Albanian here?”
- I’ve mentioned before that Albanians believe cross-breezes cause illness. (It’s called promaja in shqip.) I am beginning to understand more and more in shqip. At dinner the other night, my host brother said he had a headache, and my host father blamed it on promaja. I asked about promaja, and they were surprised I knew what they had been saying. (My host brother helped to translate the conversation that followed.) My host father said he knows a man whose “face was destroyed by promaja.” I laughed and said Americans don’t believe in promaja. My host father replied that it doesn’t matter if Americans believe or not, promaja is real.
- Another trainee and I were walking through a playground, and a group of boys who looked to be about twelve kept shouting, “I like your a**!” to us over and over.
- Being catcalled is creepy.
- Being catcalled by 12-year-olds is creepier.
- Being catcalled by 12-year-olds who sound like robots is the creepiest.