Springtime Produce in Kosovo

Now that spring is here, the local produce truck has come back to my village.

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This is exciting, because it means the return ofย fresh, juicy strawberries. A carton is 1.50 Euro. When I used to shop at Mariano’s in Chicago, I think a carton was around $4.25. And the strawberries were not asย plump as these. (Below is half a carton’s worth of strawberries. I ate the other half.)

fresh strawberries kosovo

All winter long, I’ve been eating peppers, pickles, and cabbage. And that’s about it in the fruits/veggie department. Stores still carry some fruits, like bananas and oranges, which are (obviously) shipped in from someplace else.

It is common for families in Kosovo, especially the ones living in smaller villages, to have their own gardens and farm animals. Remember when I wrote this post back in the fall, about the process of canning peppers?

IMG_1494

I think I have single-handedly consumed the amount of peppers in the above-photo. Speca! Speca! Speca! (That means peppers in Shqip [Albanian].) I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say I eat speca every day.

A Person can only eat so many pickled vegetables before A Person wants to weep. I am excited by increasing food prospects now that winter is over. ๐Ÿ™‚

An American in Kosovo, Part 5

Remember when you were a kid, and it was sooo annoying when an adult would guess your age or grade, and low ball you? And you were like, “Ugh, I’m TEN! How can they think I’m nine?”

Well, a while back, I was at a neighbor’s house and they mentioned their daughter’s birthday was coming up. I looked at her and asked, “How old are you going to be? Twelve?” And she said, “Sixteen.”

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There is a teacher at my school who greets me by saying, “Miredita, Amerikan.” (Good day, American.)

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This is an old story, but I haven’t shared it yet.

I attended my host brother’s wedding last July. I had only lived in Kosovo for six weeks then, and was still feeling conspicuous and awkward. The female guestsย were beautifully dressed, and they would change their outfits throughout the reception. (Imagine being at a wedding where Cher is also in attendance. Now multiple that by 100.)

Everyone began circle dancing. I was trying to work up the nerve to join in. Seated at my long, nearly empty table was a woman I came to call (in my mind) The Beautiful Blonde Mermaid. Excuse the title, but I never caught her name. She was 1) beautiful 2) blonde and 3) had wavy, cascading hair, like a mermaid. I got the sense that she, like me, is a bit reserved, and not sure if she wanted to dance. But then she rose from the table, took me by the hand, and led me out to the dance floor. It was like, “I don’t want to do this, and you don’t want to do this, so let’s do it together.” It was an act of kindness I will remember.

Other funny stories:

A Quick and Belated Post About Easter

I’ve mentioned before that I live in a minority, Catholic community in Kosovo (the majority of Kosovars are Muslim). I was interested to learn two things regarding Easter in Kosovo:

  1. They dye eggs here. (I was gifted pretty eggs by students and teachers alike.)
  2. They do not have the Easter Bunny. Most of my students had never heard of him (her?). When they asked me if he is real, I said he is as real as Santa Claus. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Another fun fact: Dyed eggs may or may not be hard boiled. I found this out the hard way as I was hiding eggs for my 3rd graders. I dropped one and it splattered on the floor. Oops.

Clothes Shopping in Kosovo

Recently, I bought a new shirt and a new dress while shopping in Pristina. This decision was fueled by several factors:

  1. I haven’t bought new clothes in a while.
  2. Shopping, as we all know, is a good cure for a funk.
  3. My counterpart had told me about this store in Pristina where everything is less than 5 Euro.
  4. I am going on vacation soon and wanted some new clothes.

I didn’t move to Kosovo with a lot of stuff. Here is a picture of my wardrobe. I have two shelves of clothing, plus my coats. That’s it.

wardrobe

I’ve been getting by just fine with what I packed. But by the time I leave Kosovo, I bet most of my clothes will be ready for the donation pile (or, maybe the garbage). Several of us have talked about stocking up on clothes before we leave Kosovo permanently, because clothes here are cute and cheap.

It is tempting to shop more, but being in the Peace Corps means I have to live within a small (tiny) budget. Since I’ve moved to Kosovo, I estimate I’ve spent less than 200 Euro on new clothes, and that’s including my new winter coat.

I keep a pretty close eye on my budget, though, so I can spring for new things every once in a while. I found the “less than 5 Euro” store my counterpart told me about, and indeed, everything is less than 5 Euro. I bought this new spring dress.

spring dress 1

spring dress 2

Most of the clothes I brought to Kosovo are neutral colored and without patterns. Part of the reason is that I wanted to look as conservative as possible here. I figured I would get enough attention as a foreigner. Also, I had been going through a “neutral” wardrobe phase in the months before I moved, anyway.

But, I am getting a little tired of dressing so plainly. This colorful, patterned shirt jumped out at me. It is really comfortable, and I like the hippy vibe.

hippy shirt

hippie shirt

Obituaries in Kosovo

Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky,
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die.
When I die and they lay me to rest,
Gonna go to the place that’s the best. — Norman Greenbaum, Spirit in the Sky

I don’t consider myself a morbid person, but I do think it is fascinating to learn how different cultures attend to their dead. On this blog, I’ve already posted about visiting the Catacombs in Paris, and posted about graves in Kosovo here and here. I was also interested to learn men in Kosovo used to wear burial shrouds as part of their everyday attire. (Also, for the record, one of my favorite things I did in New Orleans was take a walking tour of their cemeteries, which I’ve done twice.)

In Kosovo, it is common to see obituaries posted publicly, such as taped up on electrical posts. I asked my counterpart about it. He said when someone dies, a family member will go to a print shop and give them the deceased’s relevant information (name, birth and death dates, and a photo, as well as information on when/where services will be held). The print shop prints the obituaries, and then family members post them around the village. (The word “Njotim” means “notice.”)

Obituaries Kosovo

I also learned that the different border colors tell you which religion the deceased person was. Green means the person was Muslim, while black means he/she was Catholic.

I recently attended a language training, and we got a new workbook to help us practice our language skills. One of the lessons focuses on obituaries!

Obituaryshqip lesson

I think the cartoon man looks like the guy from the movie Up. ๐Ÿ™‚