Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Korca part 1

The reason you have heard nothing from us in the last few days is because we have been so busy. Last Friday we travelled to Korca by minibus about 2 and a half hours. It was marred by me having my shoulder bag stolen. Sadly this is a constant hazard in Albania. We were siting at the front of the minibus with my bag at my feet and 2 women behind me must have put their hand under the seat and took the bag which contained my camera and my ordinary glasses. I was wearing my sun glasses at the time and so at least I have them. I feel annoyed with myself for being so foolish when I know that travelling or even moving about here is a hazard with people pestering mainly children for money and pickpockets about the place. We physically stand out, not because we wish to but we do, me being taller than most and having a paler skin.
Anyway we met Edi and Artina who were delighted to see us. They took us straight to their youth meeting. They have an excellent rented building with space for young people to play table tennis as well as space for about 100 people. We spent a time in worship with these 20 or so young folks.
Saturday saw us travelling to Voskopoja, a village in the mountains which 300 years ago was the largest city in the Balkans with 35,000 people but now has just a handful. It is noted for a church with icon like paintings on the outside of the building as well as inside. The church was locked, and Edi fetched the priest to get the key. Then we had coffee at a hotel in the mountains. We were surrounded by stunning scenery. Mountains surround you wherever you go and the tops are still snow covered. Then we went to Arta's favourite restaurant beside a stream in the village of Boboshtica for a wonderful meal of roast lamb and offal with salad and chips.
Then to the Police Station in Korca to report my stolen bag. This is not as straight forward as you might think. There is hand shaking all round, this is at the gate to the Police Station, an explanation of what has happened to all and sundry, the Police Officers of various ranks and bystanders who are just curious. There is a lot of head shaking and talking and discussion and commiserations and more hand shaking but they are not willing to do anything but rather suggest that I report this to the Police in Elbasan where we came from. So reluctantly we call it a day.
There had been a family bereavement in the church so this meant Edi needed to go and see the family for an hour or two, then go later again that evening with Artina for a further 2 hours and then again the following day. Staying overnight with the family would not have been out of the question just to express support.
As we have not written for a while let me post this and write more later today about our time in Korca.
We are definitely in a different culture but the wonderful thing is God is everywhere!
Ken and Ann

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