Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer is Almost Gone....

Ok so it's been awhile since I've posted on here but I've been busy! Where to start. I had a Warden's Conference in Tirana (boring), several meetings for a volunteerism project for youth in northern Albania, my mid service conference in Korca (half-way done!!), beer fest in Korca (at the same time as the mid service conference....coincidence, I think not!), a tubing experience in northeast Albania and to top it all off, house hounting. For more details, continue reading....

So the two Peace Corps events were the Warden training and the Mid Service Conference. The Warden training was to go over what we do in case of an emergency. I had to go to it last year so it was a bore for me to go again this year. There's only 12 of us lucky enough to get to participate in the warden training and let me tell you, we love it! Ok so on to the more exciting of the two, the Mid Service conference (MSC). The best part about this conference was that it marked the beginning of our last year here in Albania. We had sessions on some serious stuff (admin, health, safety etc...) but also on some more fun topics such as "why do we work here?", "photo shop", "working overseas after PC", "sector success stories" and "plans for the 2nd year". It was a great chance to catch up with everyone and see what they are all up to.

My favorite part of the MSC was that Beer Fest happened to be at the same time. Conference during the day, beer fest at night. It was perfect! For those of you who have not had Korca e zeze, you should try it! I was impressed by how large the beer fest was. There were tons of people, tons of beer boths and tons of qofte booths. Yum :) If it hadn't been for beer fest I don't think half of my group would have showed up.

On to the tubing experience. Becca and Dylan, the volunteers in Peshkopi, decided one day that it should be possible to tube from Peshkopi to Kukes. Looking at the map it looks very possible. I was convinced and decided to join them on the adventure. The first day was awesome. We floated down the river all day, stopping once for lunch, and once after our bag with stuff went under. It was peaceful, relaxing and a ton of fun! We pulled over to the side at about 7 and made camp for the night. We found out we had not made it nearly as far as we thought. We kept a positive attitude until it was time to sleep. None of us had a good night. We couldn't get comfortable or warm. We tried to keep the fire going all night but it didn't work so well. At one point we got up and found a big stack of hay, grabbed some and brought it over to the fire to try to make a "bed". That still didn't work too well. By the time the sun was up, we had been up for hours, were tired, cranky and hungry. After sitting there talking about it we decided to try to hitch hike the rest of the way to Kukes. We walked and walked and walked. We stopped several times at people's houses to fill our water bottles but had no luck finding food. We just ate the berries on the side of the road. Finally about 4:30 pm (after walking since 8:30) we saw a car. It picked us up and started driving us to Kukes. 10 minutes later they blew a tire, but they stopped, fixed it right away and we were back on the road. After finally arriving in Kukes we ended up eating 2 dinners, crashing at Jennifer and James' and then heading out early the next morning to get back to site. That was my tubing experience.

The last thing to mention is that after my months of house hunting, I have finally found a new apartment!! I know, I'm totally excited! It's in a brand new building and has lots of great new furniture in it. I'm moving on September 1st. The location is so much better, it's behind the high school and not on top of the hill. So excited to only have to walk up 3 flights of stairs instead of the 127 that I have now!

Well that's it for now. Should have more to post soon and with pictures! Keep your eyes open for new posts and until then, enjoy the last few days of summer!