December 03, 2006

Prishtina, Kosova

“lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the one who leads forth their host by number, he calls them all by name, because of the greatness of his might and the strength of his power not one of them is missing.” Isaiah 40:26

High on the Macedonian mountains, in the black of night, while everyone on the bus was sleeping I saw stars. I had never seen them as beautiful before. It was so dark, with the hint of deep blue that comes to the night skies, and the stars were clear and bright, but most spectacular where the number of them. The stars filled the whole sphere dome of the sky. From the horizon and the silhouetted mountains there was no empty space – all was filled were multitudes of stars. I couldn't take it in – I was wide awake, full of anticipation to see them all – but with the radius of my vision I could only see a small part of the sky! When the bus winded down the mountains I could lean so still and comfortable and peaceful by the window – looking up seeing a twirling, clear and bright in the dark night, panorama of the starry hosts! This was the beginning of the two day trip to Kosova.

Every border crossing on both sides (Albania, Macedonia and Kosova) all passports were checked, and Louise and I being the only foreigners we would get out into the cold to explain who we were and show our permits. We drove through the night from 6pm onwards, on a bus full of students going home for the holiday of independence in 1912. Everyone was excited and talking. We made two stops to roadside cafés. In the small hours everyone was asleep. About 5.30am we arrived in misty, cold Prishtina, bargained with a taxi driver to take us to where we were staying for 4 Euro, and went up another hill to our friends home. It's a lovely big home with heating on the floors and lots of English food – like muffins and homemade blackberry jam. I felt right at home! I really enjoyed staying at Justine's house, and hearing some of her life there. After a nap we were recommended to go to the Phoenix for a good English breakfast – its the pub where all the foreigners go – and there are a good number of foreigners in Prishtina because of the peace keeping troops and diplomats etc. Of course my mind thought of the war that Kosovars and Serbians endured just 7 years earlier. There are big UN buildings and still a military presence in Prishtina. I couldn't begin to write about that – cause I don't know enough about it.

We set off, the modern urban architecture was bizarre! It was cool to see it. Only managed to get a couple photos of buildings, it was really misty and cold. There was definitely a lifelessness and residue of the awful things of the past there in the city – and I wont even attempt to comment on that. Found some graffiti, bought a book from the book seller on the street and finally we found the Phoenix, a simple but lively pub. Everyone knows each other, a mixture of foreigners that drink beer. The football and rugby were on, I had a gorgeous steak and onion sandwich and local beer and Lou and I shared our life stories of knowing Jesus with each other which was cool. We wondered back up the misty hill in the dark of the evening having seen all we could see! And finished the day with spaghetti and a film.

After church the next morning Justine took Louise and I and a British couple staying with Justine to the Serbian quarters of Prishtina. There is an area that is Serbian and back roads to travel to that area. The language spoken is different and the houses too. It was interesting. We went to a local restaurant and had pork – which is taboo in the Albanian part of Prishtina. Really tasty meal. Then visited a 15th century Orthodox monastery. I loved seeing the city and land from the landrover and hearing about Kosova. Home for coffee then back to the bus and the 10 hours to Tirana. Again I saw the same stars on the way back, again it lifted my spirit. At about 2am we were all taken off the bus for the second search at the border – all bags taken off, some opened, but nothing found whatever was being looked for... Made friends with a little girl who made up a bed in the seat in front of me. Got back to Tirana at 3.30am ready for sleep. Nice to wonder home to Louise's house in the quiet city that normally is noisy and bustling.

The photos will tell this story better! See 'beths photos' for more.
It was a cool trip.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Beautiful. I could read and reread this blog a thousand times. I love how much description is in it and how it seems that God has clothed you in His comfort with silly things like a steak and onion sandwich. A 15th century Orthodox monastery??? I could die happy just seeing it.

Much love from snowy Chicago.