Back in Elbasan we really do notice the difference in temperature. It is hot by 10 am and soon after we are seeking shade rather than walking in the sun. It reminds us of when we went on holidays to Greece years ago. In case you wonder what we eat then let us say salads form a great part of the diet here and are presented at every meal. We headed off to the market on Thursday morning to get salatte jeshile which is lettuce, domato obviously tomatoes, presh which are giant spring onions about 18 inches high, qepe onions, and kastravets cucumber. Our Albanian is sufficient to order what weight we want or how many we want. Salads come in a variety of forms either sallate miks, your normal lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and cucumber or sallate fshati village salad that will have whatever is to hand but usually contains all the above with olives and white cheese like Greek feta cheese. This is our favourite. There is sallate turshi which has pickled white cabbage and pickled gerkins in it, sallate rus, Russian salad with cold vegetables in mayonnaise and so on. Salad is put on the table at every meal time. You can even get it for breakfast. The fruit is also wonderful because apart from bananas everything is fresh and local or grown say within 60 miles. Yesterday we had the first of the cherries, and bought some kiwi fruit. I don't go much on kiwi fruit usually but these are something else. They are really big and juicy and delightful. Together with strawberries these are the main fresh fruit available at the moment. June sees peaches and apricots and early apples, July brings the first big figs and grapes which continue through the summer and then autumn brings apples from the cooler mountains, pomegranates and citrus fruit such as oranges, lemons and the wonderful blood oranges. We spend time then in the Internet cafe catching up on emails and sending some, and writing our blog. Whatever is happening in the UK could just as well be a million miles away! I phone my mother who tells me it is cold in the UK and she has had the heating on and it is pouring with rain. And we are doing our best to walk in the shade! Just before 5pm we walk to Ilir and Rudinas, me to go for a walk with Ilir and talk whilst Ann goes to a women's Bible study come homegroup in the house. We are spotted in the street by Vali and Elsa, our former landlady and one her daughters and they invite us for coffee and raki later in the evening. By 7.30pm the ladies have finished and Ilir and I have covered all manner of topics concerning church life, so we go withe the flow and we head off at 8pm to the home of Arti and Vali, and Era and Elsa the two daughters aged 16 and 18 who both speak English. They are delighted to see us again and we drink Turkish coffee in small cups with a small glass of raki, the liqueur that Albanians drink. Elsa, who has designs on being either a politician or an actress, I tell her they are much the same, shows us a video of some acting she has done in the local theatre just a few days previously with her school. The programme is pulled together with the guy here who is the main host of Te Vlen, the Albanian version of Who's got talent? Finally we leave at 9pm to go home and then Ann prepares our evening meal in our basic kitchen. Basic means we have two rings but only one works, there is no work top, just use the table! what is the problem?, no real utensils other than what we buy, and one saucepan and low electric power. Turn the kettle on and the lights dim! I am serious. But Ann is wonderful as ever and by 10.30pm we are sitting down to a lovely meal including yet another salad! End of another wonderful day.
Some of the varied Books I've read recently in no particular order....
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. Another one of those books I wish I could have read 20 years ago. Excellent about how to achieve organisational health.
The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware. very helpful in helping to understand Orthodox history and thinking. The Orthodox Church is the main church in Serbia and Macedonia.
Austria-Hungary and the orgins of the first world war. Helps with the historical background to the Balkans. The Powers at work then are still at work today, politically, economically. Samuel R Williamson Jr
Bradt Guide to Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia etc (excellent and sometimes the only guides avaiable for lesser known countries)
Jesus through Middle Eastern eyes. Opened my eyes to see the Gospels in a new way. Kenneth E Bailey