July 26, 2006

Firefly Week

We had a great adventure...
(as soon as I can work out how to put photos on - I will)

After arriving into Tirana we were picked up by Margaret Reid, the long term WEC missionary here and bought into the centre where Margaret had some people to meet. We were sent out for our first Tirana experience when Margaret asked us to go to do the shopping in the market - melons, olives, bread, local cheese, onions, tomatoes and the like were all on the list - and the market was alive with sights, sounds and smells and friendly vendors interested in foreigners. It was hot outside and bustling. Anna and Catherine loved it and we made our way round getting lots of good and tastey natual foods. From the start Anna and Catherine opened their hearts to Albania - natural travellers indeed!

By the time we got to Margerets house - tired and hot and dusty but content and excited and happy, we arranged where we would sleep and dropped off to the the sounds of Albania's night - this night it was drums beating for a wedding, dogs barking at each other and hundreds of crickets singing their song while a muslim dirge occasionally rang out. It was as though we were lying in a bed in Africa - the heat and the mosquitos to add to the effect! Was a good introduction to a foreign land.

The next morning a bit bedraggled we set of bright and early and got on a fugon to Korce. We flew round the high mountains in a spacious minibus - two young lads travelling back and forth from Italy kept us entertained along with the speed along driver who stopped at a cafe for a soup and coffee break. It was lovely - there was a soft flowing river, a gentle breeze in the warm air and a nice cappacino with cream on top to enjoy. We stopped again at a natural spring and filled up our water bottles with the most refreshing water to be found. The driver took us to the very doorstep of where we needed to go.

We arrived a Dorcus International, a Dutch Christian humanitarian project that so kindly offered us accomodation - but meanwhile it had to be cleaned out as it was a shed like place that had just been flooded! After a coffee we ended up helping out the lady cleaning and began to form a nice friendship with her - Lirika. Catherine had a picture for her - of God wanting to pour out his love upon her as gold, knowing that she had lost a lot in her past. The next morning while talking with her again it turned out to be so true - she had lost her husband many years ago - leaving her to struggle through life in many ways. (Here's a picture of the sitting room area of our sweet shed - very makeshift but became affectionalty familiar in the short space of time we were there - the good company made it home!)

That afternoon and night we wandered around Korce - cafes, finding postcards, visiting the big othodox church. A couple of old men showed us around the grand building with many icons of saints and apostles and with joyful blessings upon us wished us farewell as we left - one reaching out finally to Catherine pouring out upon her the blessing of finding a beautiful and good husband - Catherine making fine efforts at her language understanding in returned blessed him back by saying "and to you too"! One of the best things of that day was finding a wonderful sweet shop with cakes and baklava like we had never seen before - we took our time picking out cakes before finding a park where people all milled around, the old men playing backgammon, cards and dominoes and others sitting around catching up on the days gossip. In the heat we talked and prayed for Albania. Tierd out we found a restraunt called The Danub, though it was empty it looked very posh and we dined with the best of steaks and finest fruity Albania Merlot wine and a delightful young waiter who seemed trainned to serve royalty! And all of this to the background of 1980's love songs!

The best of all the marvels of that day was walking home late at night down the large dusty road, past great concrete arches that we could not work out what they were there for, and looking out upon the dimly lit bushes and trees that ran on the sides of the road Catherine exclaimed - "look!" and for the first time atleast for Anna and I we saw the buzzing light of a firefly. It was like a fairly from a storybook, then there were two - we were transfixed! It was so much fun. We stayed on the look out all the way home seeing new ones occasionally aswell as searching out the milkyway and bright stars spread out accross the Albanian night sky.

There is much more to write about - the trip to the village Sheqeras - our drivers to the rescue that drove us along the road that would have taken us from morning to night otherwise, meeting Dite a lovely Albanian older lady who treated us like daughters in her simple home, finding a church called Church of the Hebrew Carpenter - a small fellowship of christian opera singers who sing hymns at the top of their voices and then ate ice cream and fruit with us entertaining us with conversation and song! Also the night time ritual of the whole of the town gathering to walk up and down the roads of the town or city - talking and laughing, catching up. Kids in the park with their families till all hours at night and the finding of a wonderful lit up and musical fountain surrounded by a cafe that sells divine hot chocolate. Travelling up north and welcomed into a christian lady's home to be fed great food and sweet coffee and the three of us laughing uncontrollably because of the heat and all the funny things of the week - and there were many. Thankfully she had three daughter all the same age as us and she loved us for it! There is much to tell. Albania offered us the best of itself and Anna and Catherine saw it in the best of lights with open hearts and tender souls. I miss them lots. They entertained me no end!

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