Adem Jashari Memorial

Yesterday, I visited the Adem Jashari Memorial in Prekaz, Kosovo. I only have two weeks left in Kosovo and I felt I couldn’t leave without seeing it.

Adem Jashari was the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). (If you say in in Albanian, it is “Ushtria ç Kosovës” with the acronym UÇK.) The KLA was a separatist group of ethnic Albanians who wanted to secede from Yugoslavia. Adem Jashari has since become a symbol of Kosovo’s independence.

In March of 1998, Serbian forces attacked the Jashari family compound in Prekaz, Kosovo. Over a course of three days, 59* members of the Jashari family were killed, including children. (*I’ve read varying reports of the numbers, ranging from 55-59. But there are 59 family photos displayed at the museum, so I am sticking with that number.)

Disclaimer: This post contains photos of bombed-out buildings and may be disturbing to view.

The memorial site consists of a small museum, the family graveyard, a memorial park, and the Jashari family compound.

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Adem Jashari statue in the nearby village of Skenderaj.
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Photo in the center of Skenderaj
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On the walk to the museum
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First house that I saw. I tried googling the names of its occupants but I am unsure of who they were in relation to Adem Jashari.

The Adem Jashari Museum is free to visit. It is about a ten-minute walk from the Skenderaj bus station.

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The Adem Jashari Museum
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There wasn’t an English translation but I am fairly certain these are all of the people who died in the massacre, 59 in total.
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Adem Jashari’s gun. Almost every depiction I have seen of him shows him holding his gun.
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Adem Jashari’s motocycle
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Munitions used by Serbian forces during the attack on the Jashari family compound.
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The Jashari family tree

After stopping in the museum, I went across the street to the park. This is the cleanest and most well-kept space I have seen in Kosovo. There were two military guards standing watch.

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In the photo below, each marble slab bears the name and birth/death date of a member of the Jashari family.

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I don’t know the symbolism behind these red flowers. Red is a popular color in Kosovo because it is the color of the Albanian flag, and the majority of Kosovars are ethnic Albanians. However, the flowers made me think of a river of blood, personally.

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Jashari family cemetary, with the museum in the background

Here are photos of the family compound. Scaffolding has been built around the remains of the buildings so that visitors can walk around and look inside.

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I cannot imagine the force needed to blast through walls these thick.
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Without offering an opinion on Kosovar history or politics, I will say that visiting the memorial site was a somber experience. It is hard to imagine what it would be like to not only put your own life on the line for your beliefs, but also the lives of your family members. It was also sad to think of the children who died during the attack on the Jashari compound.

The Aran Islands

On Wednesday of our week in Ireland, Whitney and I woke to more rain. We trudged out to get donuts and pick up our handmade scarves because they had to be washed before we could wear them. Then we packed up at our hotel in Dublin, ate lunch, and jumped on a bus to Galway.

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The view from our Airbnb in Galway
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The Spanish Arch, Galway

We booked a tour of the Aran Islands/Cliffs of Moher for Thursday. It was through Wild Atlantic Way (highly recommend) and was an all-day event. We got on the tour bus at 9 a.m. and didn’t get back until 6 p.m.

The bus picked us up in Galway and drove us through the Burren (pronounced “burn”). According to Wikipedia, “The Burren is a region of County Clare in the southwest of Ireland. It’s a landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites.”

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A photo pitstop in the Burren

(Another fun pronunciation fact I learned in Ireland: I thought the word quays was pronounced “kways” but it is actually pronounced “keys.”)

The bus dropped us off at a ferry and the ferry took us out to one of the Aran Islands, where Gaelic is spoken as a first language.

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The Aran Islands
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Me with a sign in Gaelic
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The Aran Islands
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Ruins

It was freezing on the island. However, we saw palm trees! We learned an interesting fact on the tour bus: the rocks in this part of Ireland (don’t ask me which ones) are very good at conducting heat. Therefore, you see plant life that is only seen elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

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Tropical trees growing in very un-tropical weather

Whitney and I walked around a bit, visited a local shop, and then stopped at a pub for lunch. I had Irish stew. (The bartender told me, “That’ll keep you going for a while.”)

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Whitney
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So many rocks!
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Local shop

At the pub, we saw a notice that the local lottery jackpot was up to 4,100 Euro. 🙂

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Win big!
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My friend has a daughter named Saoirse so I took this photo for her. 🙂
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Goodbye, Aran Islands!

After lunch, we got back on the ferry and headed out to see the Cliffs of Moher. Stay tuned for Monday’s post to read more about that. 🙂 It’ll be my last post about Ireland! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the country through my experiences.

Friday Gratitude: Sweater Weather!

Now that September has come, the temperature in Kosovo has dropped and it feels like autumn. I am happy that my favorite two-month stretch of the year has begun. 🙂

For the start of the school year, I decided to deep clean my room and re-arrange the furniture. I spent a lot of time in my room this summer. I needed the space to feel different. Living in someone else’s house is hard, so being in control of my own space feels good psychologically.

I was a little nervous about moving stuff around for fear of scratching the floor, but I was careful and that didn’t happen. After years of living alone, I am a champion furniture mover. The only thing I didn’t move was my bed, which is way too heavy, and I don’t know where else I’d put it.

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Look! The rug I WILL NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT, because I love it so much.
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My little couch is perfect for reading and watching movies on my laptop. 🙂
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My bedside tables always break because they’re old/crappy. I fixed these drawers yet again, and used the top to display some of my crochet projects.
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The bottom drawer of my other beside table was beyond hope, so I removed it and use it as a place to store books and electrical chargers.
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I bought this cross for myself at the Serbian Monastery in Peja, Kosovo. It hangs on my bedside lamp.
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My desk. I bought the wood carving on my first trip to Tirana, Albania. I think of it as my “future island,” something that will one day hang in my home to remind me of my travels. 🙂

When we first moved to our permanent sites, Peace Corps gave us a “settling in allowance.” I wish we got another one our second year. I’ve bought several new things for my room this summer, including a fan, a better pillow, and an electric kettle.

Media Consumption …

  • My mom suggested that I read Dolores Claiborne, a timely choice of fiction about a woman who kills her husband during an eclipse. The narrative was strange, but I enjoyed the story.

Monday was our first day back to school. As I looked at the familiar faces of my students, I thought about how I won’t be here next year. It made me sadder than I imagined feeling.

I went to Skopje, Macedonia on Wednesday, and will be posting more pictures next week.

Today, I am going to Rahovec, a Kosovo city I haven’t yet visited. I’ll be attending their annual wine festival with some friends. 🙂

Happy weekend! Talk to you on Monday.

Friday Gratitude: Gearing Up

Last year, the K2 cohort took us newbies on a hike in Peja. This year, Rachel and I did the same thing for some of our new people.

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Since this has been my last week off school, I’ve spent some time crocheting. Remember my Betty Boop mermaid? I decided to give her some plastic surgery:

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Before
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After

Media Consumption … this is an accumulation of the past few weeks:

  • A friend told me his favorite book is Where the Red Fern Grows. I had never read it, so I downloaded it from the library. It was a good story, but as my friend said, very much geared toward boys. I later pointed out that none of the sisters in the book have names … they’re just referred to as “the younger one” and “the oldest one,” etc.
  • I found The Perks of Being a Wallflower on my Kindle (I have lots of mysterious books on there, thanks to other people). The story was well-written but again, as someone who did not have a typical high school experience, I have a hard time relating to teen stories. I mostly just read this because I didn’t have anything else to read at the time.
  • A blogger I follow gave a great review to We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. It is a collection of essays written by Samantha Irby, a Chicagoan. While I got a few laughs out of this book, I had a much stronger reaction to her descriptions of life in Chicago. (She used to live in my old neighborhood.) When she mentioned restaurants and streets and el stops, I could feel the knife twisting in my heart. Chicago was my home for 12.5 years, and there are times when I miss it terribly.
  • A friend recommended The Kill Artist, which was a fun read about international spies.
  • The Silver Linings Playbook was another mysterious Kindle find. I had seen and liked the movie. The book was good, too, though a bit different from the movie.
  • I finished my binge re-watch of Breaking Bad. I had different perceptions of it this time around.
  • I finished watching Game of Thrones! That zombie dragon, though!

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I am so thankful to have the time to write. I took a break while I was helping with the film festival the week before last, and when I got home, I just had words pouring out of me. I couldn’t sleep because I had so much on my mind, and so much I wanted to share.

I got a very sweet email recently, from someone who told me he was inspired to apply to Peace Corps Kosovo after reading my blog. That’s all I could ever really ask for from this blog — I try to provide information that is thoughtful, and useful, and hopefully inspiring to others.

Through this blog, I’ve also “met” several Peace Corps volunteers from other parts of the world. I recently got this postcard 🙂 :

Happy weekend! I am looking forward to getting back to school next week. I am someone who appreciates structure and a purpose for daily life. This summer has been feeling really long, and not in a good way …

Surprise Saturday Post

I don’t normally post on Saturdays, but I wanted to share a few photos and stories I’ve seen on the web recently and liked. Happy weekend!

These photos, a collaboration between Polish photographer Marcin Nagraba and costume designer Angieszka Osipa, are stunning.

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By Marcin Nagraba, Agnieszka Osipa

I have long been an admirer of Jim Carey and a blogger I follow posted this inspiring video. “I needed color.”

I don’t think I would be brave enough to decorate my home this way, but this place is one-of-a-kind.

And last, this made me smile. 🙂

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From the Game of Slavs FB page

Friday Gratitude: Madness

Here are some things that are making me happy this week:

  • I bought plane tickets this week. Buying plane tickets makes my bank account sad. But it makes me very happy!
  • I finally decided to stop being lazy and upload my crochet projects to ravelry. You can see them here (not sure if you need an account): http://www.ravelry.com/projects/hellofromkosovo
  • I am heading to a language training for Peace Corps early next week. Good things: I’ll get to be in a city I like with friends I like. Bad things: I’ll be evaluated on my Shqip progress. *gulp*
  • I had a lovely dinner with another volunteer. You will get to “meet” him next week, when he guest blogs for me.

Media consumption:

  • I re-watched the movie Notes on a Scandal. It is one of the only movies I think is better than the book upon which it is based (the other is Revolutionary Road). In it, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett play teachers at the same school. The movie is told from the perspective of Judi Dench’s character, as she learns of Cate Blanchett’s character’s affair with a 15-year-old student. Though CB is the one having the affair, JD plays such a creepy, evil character you end up hating her more.
  • I decided to treat myself to a movie and went to see Beauty and the Beast. It was the second time I’ve visited a movie theater since I’ve lived in Kosovo. I didn’t care for the movie much. But these days, I appreciate stimulation of any kind.

On a sad note … They say things happen in threes and I know three families in the U.S. who have lost loved ones within the last week. A lot of people are on my mind, and a lot of people are in my thoughts and prayers. I am sending love to you all.

Feeling the Loss of Autonomy

I try to find the balance between keeping it real on this blog, while not complaining too much. But I’ve been feeling the blues on and off for the last two months. Things will start to look up and then something will happen to bring them back down again.

Friends and family often ask me, “What do you miss most?” And I think they expect the answer to be something like a person, or my cat, or some type of food. But the thing I miss most is getting to feel like an adult.

I don’t control what I eat or when I eat. I don’t control the temperature in my bedroom (currently, there’s no heat). I can’t decorate my bedroom in any real way. My means of transportation is limited. My monthly budget is tiny. I live in someone else’s house, meaning I have to do things based on someone else’s preferences.

I’m running out of ideas for this blog. I’ve got several half-finished crochet projects lying around. I’m losing focus in some ways. My bedtime has been getting earlier and earlier because after I accomplish what I want to for the day, I don’t see the point in finding more to do.

My poor mom has had to bear the brunt of my complaining. My end of our telephone conversations sound like, “UUUUGGGHHH.” (Thanks, Mom.)

I had coffee with another volunteer friend the other week. We were talking about time, and whether it has been passing quickly or slowly while we’re here. We couldn’t figure it out. He said, “The days are misery but then a month goes by.” I agree with that statement.

I suspected my first winter in Kosovo would be one of the hardest stretches of my Peace Corps service. And so far, it has been. I am trying to remind myself of the positive things that are coming.

I am going on vacation for spring break in 32 days. (Don’t you just hate me? All this complaining, and then I tell you I’m going on vacation soon.) I’m hoping this is what I need to pull me through this slump, to officially put an end to this winter chapter of my service.