There are a number of artisans in Kosovo who are known for making silver filigree jewelry. After seeing several members of my cohort sporting beautiful, handcrafted rings, I decided it was time to buy one for myself.
My ring comes from Peja, though if you are interested in learning about how the history of this type of jewelry in Kosovo, Balkan Insight recently wrote an article about artisans in Prizren.
I hope I make a habit of wearing this … I am not usually a ring-wearer. However, this was so pretty I had to get it!
During my first visit to Pristina, my language training group got to go to the top of Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa to enjoy a great view of the city. The cathedral was under construction at the time. Now, it is finished. I visited again with some friends to see the new interior.
According to the CIA World Factbook, 2.2% of Kosovars are Roman Catholic. The country is primarily Islamic (95.6%).
I live in a Catholic village. You can see photos I took of my local church here.
Before moving to Kosovo, I had never heard of the following type of dog (it has many names): Sarplaninac, Shar Mountain Dog, Illyrian Sheepdog, Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog. All of those names describe one basic breed of dog, which is common in Kosovo and looks like this:
Photo taken from Wikipedia
Photo taken from About Dogs EU website
Clearly, this is a dog that displays maximum fluffitude, but do not be fooled — they are bred to protect sheep from wolves.
Though I have never seen an actual working dog (as in, up in the mountains, herding sheep), many of the street dogs in Kosovo look like they’re part Illyrian Sheepdog (my preferred name for them). Here is a picture of a stray dog I took in Peja (he was just sleeping, not dead):
I don’t know why there are so many names for this breed. They are beautiful animals, though. I am not the first Peace Corps volunteer to become fascinated by them (and we all know I’m a cat person). I may have to find a puppy and bring it home to my dad once I am done with my service. 🙂 (Dad, you have been warned … )
If you would like to learn more about Illyrian Sheepdogs, you can click this link.
August 14-20 was the best week I’ve had in Kosovo. HANDS DOWN! I volunteered at the Anibar Animation Festival in Peja, Kosovo.
The Anibar Animation Festival began eight years ago. It was founded by my friend’s counterpart, when he was only 17. (What was I doing at age 17? Certainly not founding international film festivals.)
My friend had asked me if I would be the festival’s Jury Coordinator. I told him I would think about it. The next thing I knew, I was having a meeting with his counterpart, where we discussed my role as the Jury Coordinator. I walked out of the meeting thinking, “Wait! Did I ever … agree … to be the Jury Coordinator?”
I’m not going to lie, I was dreading the whole thing. I pictured a bunch of high-powered Hollywood types who would call me in the middle of the night to make strange demands. Turns out, I was wrong to be so worried.
The jury was comprised of five lovely people who came from Spain, Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, and the United States.
I met many new people from all over the world. At one point, I was at lunch, and all four of us spoke different native languages (French, Chinese, English, and Albanian). I love that my native language is the one used to facilitate communication between people who speak other languages.
I also saw many films. The festival had two theaters, plus two screens they set up in a local park.
I loved some films, and hated others. Below are two of my favorite films shorts that were shown at the festival. (Warning: Don’t watch these if your boss or your kids are in the room!)
Volunteering at the Anibar Animation Festival also meant I got to spend time in Peja, which is my favorite city in Kosovo. I mean, would you look at this view?
Even the weather cooperated, by backing away from the 100-degree mark.
I miss the little routine I developed every morning, where I bought iced coffee (!!!) and went to the Anibar theater to hang out with my friends (and the newly rescued theater kitten) before the start of the festival’s daily activities.
It was a week full of friends, film screenings, workshops, talks, a gallery opening, and free food and drinks.
The pouring rain on the night of the closing ceremony forced people to abandon the after-party at the park and stay at the theater. Group karaoke broke out across the theater’s stage and balcony. The night ended with a group of people dancing in the flooded streets of Peja.
Hi Hello from Kosovo, my name is Charlie Lowe, long time reader, first time poster. I was invited by April to write about a secondary project that I’ve been working on for some time with some friends of mine called Faces of Kosovo.
This group of awesome Kosovars and Americans have been working together to try and share true and interesting stories of members of our communities to show our friends and family what life in Kosovo is REALLY like.
I truly struggled for a long time trying to find a genuine way to tell the stories of people here without sounding like a “white savior” coming to a different country and bragging about the people I’ve met (while at the same time patting myself on the back for being a good person). So I decided to flip-the-script and with the help of some great volunteers, both American and Kosovar, we started our Facebook page.
It wasn’t easy, and it took hours of planning, discussions, review, and debate, but ultimately I’m very proud of what we put together. This page seeks to connect people both here in Kosovo and back home in America with impactful and meaningful life stories of people living in this place. Their stories are told in their words (and translated closely into English, Albanian, or Serbian depending on the interview) so to be as truthful as possible. And yes, I know, Faces of Kosovo does sound a lot like Humans of New York. It’s not an original idea, but in this place at this time, it is a new and important one.
Kosovo is a place that is facing very real and very serious existential questions about its identity as a state. Will Kosovo be a Western state or are they Eastern? Will it be religious or secular? Will it be a state where diversity is accepted, imposed, or rejected? What does it mean to be a partially recognized state? The answers to these questions often may be contrasting and complex, so to flush out people’s real stories and experiences, as well as their hopes and dreams for their futures, Kosovars and Americans may better understand the peoples’ will for the future of their country.
All in all, building this page has taught me a lot about the importance of stories and of the personal growth and self-reflection that they demonstrate. Come check out the stories we’ve shared so far and stay tuned, as we have many more to come.
Living in Kosovo is the first time I have ever been landlocked. The town where I grew up shares a border river with Canada. When I lived in Boston for two years, I would sometimes spend my lunch break at the harbor. And my last apartment in Chicago (which I rented for 4.5 years) had a view of Lake Michigan from every window.
When I was home last month, my family and I went to a local arts and crafts fair along the water. As we watched a giant freighter float down the river, my Dad asked, “Are there boats like that in Kosovo?” And I said, “We don’t have water in Kosovo. It’s all mountains.”
Well, that’s not entirely true. Kosovo is mountainous and shares land borders with four other countries (Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro). However, it does have a few lakes. On Friday, my friend Chester and I visited Batlava Lake, a man-made lake.
When we arrived, we walked halfway around the lake, and decided to rent a paddleboat. (Cost: 5 Euro for one hour.)
When we were done paddling, we walked halfway back around the lake and had lunch at a restaurant on the water.
Batlava Lake was clean and quiet. I was surprised more people weren’t there. It was a nice little summer day trip. 🙂
If you plan to visit Batlava Lake, here is something to note: You don’t catch the bus at the main bus station in Pristina. Instead, you catch the bus at a stop near here:
The cost is 1.70 Euro each way (it is about a 45-minute trip from Pristina to the lake).