that's our james

Disclaimer: This is my blog. No one else's. This is what I think about stuff. If others think the same thing, it's up to them to express it. The sole purpose of my writings is to keep my friends and family informed. My opinions are just that, opinions so don't get to worked up if something offends you. Thanks.

17 March 2008

Running as fast as we can...

The Start Line

The first hopefully annual Kucove Race happened this past Saturday. Juliet, the Volunteer who works in Kucove (which is a medium sized city close to Berat), organized a 2 kilometer race. Of course Juliet didn't do it all by herself, though I am 100% she could have. She's an amazing worker. I swear she does the work of at least 5 of us. The event was sponsored by a local bank. Getting local sponsorship is a major success in and of itself . Juliet's Girls Leadership group was the main group of organizers. She got the local municipality involved and the Youth Center, funded by Save The Children, and of course other Peace Corps Volunteers.
The race was a success. Over 200 people participated, including about 20 Volunteers, some traveling 7 hours to participate in the event. Kinda makes my 40 minute bus ride not very impressive. There were some problems too, like about half of the boys in the under 14 group cheating by cutting through a park. They weren't very smart about it. The hill in the park was steeper than the road course.
Several Volunteers ran in the race for fun. We weren't allowed to win any of the prizes, though some of us did manage to score a free t-shirt. We did our part by running at a good pace and NOT cheating. At one point I stopped to grab a kid I saw emerging from the park. I told him "No" and physically turned him around and pointed to the bottom of the road.
The race even with its problems was a great event. Physical exercise is not common in Albania. This was just the beginning. Now the foundation has been laid for future events. Baby steps, that's what we're all about.

A slightly sweaty James rehydrating while speaking to Volunteer extraordinaire Juliet

12 March 2008

Please excuse James today...

Perhaps you've noticed I've been a little lax in my blog postings. I do apologize. I have no particular reason for this. I've been busy but not busier than usual. I've been not interested in Internet but that too is common. I've had power 24/7 so I don't have that problem. Not sure really what my deal has been.

As usual, I will not try to cover everything that has happened in the past 40 plus days. I will start with the most recent.

Last week I was in Greece. I met my friend Jessica in Athens on Sunday 02 March and we hopped on a small cruise ship to embark upon our journey of the Greek islands to see the ancient sites.
After the cruise, Jessica came back to Albania to experience Berat. She was only here for three days, including our recovery day from the overnight bus from Athens. I will tell you about that another time. The short version? The bus ride SUCKED!
Due to Swiss Air being punks, Jess had to shorten her trip in Berat. We did the castle in record time and opted for a taxi ride up there. The time constraints and the crappy weather led us to the taxi. It worked out well. The taxi driver liked us and told the guard not to charge us the entrance fee. We then went to the museum to see the icons and frescoes. The tour guide was away but no problem. I know the stuff. I've been through the church a few times. When the attendant did arrive, since the people know me, we didn't have to pay. Nice.
We then headed to my tutor's house for a short visit. My tutor and her family are great people. She was a wonderful hostess and Jessica got to experience Albanian hospitality. Needing some grub, we headed to my favorite pizza place. The sisters who own the place are really sweet. I always say hi to them and they enjoy our little conversations. In addition to the best calzones in Albania, they always give me a little treat for free. This time it was ice cream with a lion and peacock for decorations.
Jess and I then returned to my house to prepare for her 4am bus departure. We packed her bags and the extra one filled with some of my stuff and some stuff from Katie. Right now Jess should be finding her way to the Athens airport. I hope she makes it.

Rruge te mbare (Have a good trip) Jess!
For today, that's all I got. Dinner is almost ready. We're having kulac pizza a Katie creation.