Saturday, December 09, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Last week we had the luxury of a five-day weekend so we headed to Istanbul with some families and staff from the school. We filled up on amazing Turkish street food and fresh squeezed juices, shopped until we dropped, and visited a few important cultural relics. Here's Amy being drowned out by the Blue Mosque. Luckily we made it out of town a day ahead of the Pope's controversial visit.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
We did the unthinkable: we rescued two puppies. On our way home last Sunday, we found them in an embankment. They had made a nest for themselves in the grass. We had no idea what to do, but having heard that people often find strays and take them in, that's what we decided to do. We kept stopping on the way home and saying, 'should we just take them back and leave them?' 'what can we do with these things?' 'will anybody take them?' Anyway, we ended up taking them home. Travis prepared a box and Amy made some phone calls about what to do. In the end, we decided it was a bad idea for us to keep them. On Monday night, a vet came to our house to give them worm shots, flea medicine and check them over. The next day we put signs up at school, asking for someone to give them a good home. Wednesday, a highschool kid adopted both puppies. We miss them.
Friday, November 17, 2006
This is Kruja (pronounced Krooya), a little town in the mountains about 45 minutes from Tirana. It's known for its shopping, attracting anyone in the market for authentic Albanian carpets and tablecloths, traditional dress, or any other national keepsake. There are also antiques galore. The main shopping street is less than 1/2 a mile long, but you could spend all day weaving in and out of the shops, searching through all the dusty treasures.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
After visiting Vlore we caught a bus to Berat, a 2,000-plus year old city about 2-3 hours outside of Tirana. It's been called "the city of a thousand windows", and it was absolutely stunning. Cobblestone streets, quaint little cafes, lots of history...it was hard to leave. We stayed in a nice hotel for about $7.00 per person. If you come to visit us, this is where we're taking you.
This is one of 8 out of 42 surviving churches in Berat, dating back to the 3rd century. It's inside the castle of Berat. There are still people living within the walls of the castle. It's incredible to see their daily urban lives set against this ancient backdrop. While we were inside the castle walls, we saw a boy returning home carrying a rented playstation game, passing by crumbling walls that are probably a good 1500 years old.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
In September we took a trip to the northern city of Shkodra, about 2 hours by bus from Tirana. We hear that Shkodra is much more conservative than the modern Tirana. There are a couple of interesting articles about Shkodra: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4273020.stm and http://www.unicef.org/albania/reallives_765.html
We visited Rozafa Castle, which is about 2,400 years old. This was Amy's first castle ever. Rozafa has kind of a cool legend, you can check it out here: http://www.geocities.com/spiritofalbania/legendofrozafa
Monday, October 23, 2006
This is the Kolonat, otherwise known as "the broken arches", however the word Kolonat means "towers". It even has McDonald's style rolling highchairs and their own version of a happy meal called "happy kids". I haven't seen Ronald yet. In any case, all the kids love it. They have more ice-cream flavors than I thought possible. In case you're wondering why it looks like its housed in a tent, one look inside at the strong resemblance will confirm why it's probably not so smart to invest in a long-term permanent structure.
Another view from another balcony...when we go downtown we have to cross these soccer practice fields of the University. We pretty much live on the University campus. Grazing alongside these soccer players are cattle watched over by their weathered caretakers. Sometimes there's even a horse or two. It truly is a multi-purpose field. Travis likes to eat dinner on this balcony and watch the scrimmages. When Amy goes to the gym, she likes to say hello to the old women who are knitting and tending the cattle. The other day, two men with drums tied around their necks were walking along making music and young boys were catching bees in bottles.