After lunch on the Sunday afternoon it was time to return to our hotel and a bedroom that is air conditioned-wonderful! A chance to cool down, have a shower and a brief rest before getting ready for the final event. The wedding parties started last Wednesday! We were collected and taken with Ida to the final wedding party with 300 people present. Food was already laid out on the table and the eating and drinking and dancing began. If you have ever been to a disco or similar then you will have experienced when the noise from the sound system vibrates your internal organs. Well it was like that when we walked in the door! There is a formality to the occasion with different family members being seated in the right place and the bride and groom are at a table overlooking the whole proceedings, but they stand up all the time, yes all the time, as a mark of respect to everyone present. The bride looks miserable, which she is supposed to do, as she is leaving her parents home. Part way through the evening her father came with about a dozen other family members. That are clapped as they come in, are seated and fed whole roast lamb, exchange pleasantries with the grooms family and them after a while leave, again to applause.
The women's dresses are a sight to behold. Only photos will do them justice. All the women on our table had 2 dresses for the wedding party that night and changed half way through the evening. Sofi, declared that she had bought 10 dresses with her for all the wedding events. As the women are all dark haired and darker skinned than Ann, they wore vibrant colours. Silver, gold, orange, crimson red, royal blue, purple and so on. I am told they are bought on line or in Albania or I know they are easily obtainable in Kosovo only a few miles away where dresses come from Iran and Turkey.
The dancing, similar to Greek style, is done holding hands in a circle always moving anti clockwise. You never dance on your toes, it is always with a flat foot to the ground. Different men and women lead the dancing, sometimes it is the fathers friends who dance, then the mothers friends and so on. Songs are sung to the music all the time. At specific times the groom and then the bride and groom dance in the middle of the room and they are showered with money, notes, no coins! Food keeps coming and drinks are replenished immediately. Eventually at 2.30 am the bride and groom leave and go to his parents house for the night. And this is where they live until they go to a house the groom will provide. If he had insufficient money, then they would live with his parents and the bride would be at the mother in laws beck and call. That is the custom in Albania and has been for centuries. This results in families building many storied houses, 4 stories is common, with parents living on one level and their sons with wives on other levels.
And so to bed! Hot and tired. But up in the morning and after breakfast, topped up my mobile phone (I have an Albanian SIM card), and then had coffee with Nadi, Sofi's husband who had kindly booked us a seat on the bus back to Tirana. Kukes and the mountains and the stifling heat were left behind with memories of a wonderful wedding and new people we had met.
PS the blog has been written from my iPad which is great in one way in that like now I am using a hotel wi-fi to send this and I don't have to hunt for an Internet cafe. The down side is that I haven't yet worked out how to add pictures to a blog when sending from the iPad. From a computer no problem, just down load photos from our camera and then up load them to the blog. So sorry no photos as yet as we have been on the move from event to event and meeting one person to the next,without getting to an Internet cafe. But photos will be added. Love to you all,
Ken and Ann
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