I Went To Prizren Again

As lucky as I am for living in a bigger city in Kosovo, I really don’t like to spend my weekends here. I could never be what PCVs call a “site rat;” someone who never leaves their site.

Typically I like to meet up in Prishtina with my friends because there are a lot of good restaurants, cafes, and people there! But this past weekend we figured we’d try something new and head to Prizren!

If you’ve been here before, you know the last time I went to Prizren I got stranded there… but not this time, friends!

My best friend Christina wanted to get there early so I needed to catch the 8:00 bus. My issue? I didn’t even get out of bed until 7:40. I am… in the nicest way to myself… incredibly lazy and a procrastinator! I didn’t even have time to pack my bag so I shoved whatever I thought I needed for the night in my backpack and set off to the bus stop. And by set off I mean I half ran half power walked.

However! I did make it on time! Although it was probably less of a “on time” and more of a “the bus was late” kind of situation. Either way, I made it and off we went to pick up my best friend and then to Prizren!

When we arrived, we both immediately ran into the “Rita Ora Pizzeria” and started dying laughing. Rita Ora nor her family own this restaurant. She doesn’t endorse it. Nor do I believe she’s ever been there. But it was so funny to see so we of course took pictures.

Then we went to the bank because as PCVs we do not make much money so when we get paid it’s like Christmas every month (and I literally only had enough cash to take the bus into Prizren). There, we ran into three other PCVs who were in Prizren for the day and we accidentally became triplets!

Me, Christina, and Joan!

Apparently many other PCVs had the same idea as us because we ran into even more friends at a cafe!

My beautiful friends Va and Christina

It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t go to KFC for lunch (also a major driving force in the decision to visit Prizren). I’ve said it so many times before and I’ll continue to say it. KFC Kosova is delicious and a beautiful reminder of home! And it’s also a nice change from eating bread all day every day.

I am Colonel Sanders now

After lunch, we went to another cafe because that’s what you do in Kosovo. And I hung out with my very favorite PCV and gnome, Radar!

So, there’s a fountain in the middle of Prizren that holds some magical powers. They say if you drink from it, you will be married within six months. I drank from it back during PST when I visited Prizren for a minority community visit—eager to get married to a beautiful Albanian. What I didn’t think about though was that I had also done another ritual that promises a marriage at Novo Brdo! Which, to me, means they cancelled each other out! I can’t take any risks so, being the romantic I am, I took another drink from the fountain to cancel out the original cancelation!

I won’t give the boring details of our dinner plans, but I will tell you about how my good friend Matt and I were poisoned at a restaurant!!! Okay okay that’s a bit dramatic. We were; however, served habanero paste in large quantities and nearly had our faces melted off! Matt and I immediately went down to the bathroom and started rinsing our mouths and nasal passages out with the tap water. I remember being so confident when the chili was served to me. Even going so far as to say “I’m Mexican. I can handle it!” Boy, was I wrong wrong wrong!

We survived! And we eventually made it back to our Airbnb for the night. Faces in tact and good times still to be had.

I always have such a great time when I’m with my beautiful friends! They make Prizren just a little more beautiful, don’t they?

Tractor Rides and Mountain Top Picnics

Sundays are my only days off here while in training, so I told myself I’d sleep in—and I’m so glad that my body naturally woke me up early or I would have missed a great adventure involving tractors, abandoned homes, beautiful views of Kosovo, and some delicious flija.

I woke up on Sunday just in time for breakfast and while we were eating I kept hearing talk of a “piknik” and my cousin/fellow trainee’s name. After eating, everyone changed and was getting ready to go but I was still so confused. I had no idea whether a picnic here meant something entirely different than a picnic back home (Spoiler Alert: it both is and isn’t)! So I changed my clothes and headed down the road to my host uncle’s house, where we were greeted with a tractor and trailer in the front yard. My immediate thought was ‘heck yeah!’ and I hopped into the back of the trailer with the kids.

A little while later, the rest of the family joined us and off we went on a very bumpy ride. The views along the way were so breathtaking. When I just go to and from class everyday, it becomes harder to recognize just how beautiful this place actually is. So it’s good to be reminded by the air breezing through my hair every now and again.

At some point, we drove off the main road and onto corroded old dirt roads. I’ve experienced some in Mexico, but these were so bumpy and the inclines were so steep that I was definitely feeling a little scared on the hour drive up the mountain. We eventually reached the top, and that’s when I found out it was the old home and property of my host gjyshja (shqip for grandmother)! The houses were nearly reduced to stones and tiles—I couldn’t help but wonder how it made her feel to see her home like this.

But even if it was abandoned, there was something so captivating about it.

One thing I love so far about the summer is how many fresh fruits and vegetables I get to eat here–and cherries definitely seem to be the most common (and tasty)! After filling my belly with what seemed like hundreds of cherries from the property and watching the boys play football (I refuse to call it soccer now), I went back up the hill to join my host mom and aunt who were preparing a fire to cook flija.

I won’t go into detail about what flija is or how to make it, but it is very time consuming. Each layer is cooked in about five to ten minute intervals until the pan is completely full. I asked my host mom if I could try and, to my surprise, she let me! I went slice by slice pouring the mixture into the pan and honestly I felt so proud of myself. After I was done, my host mom told me it was very good for my first time. And when we gathered in the grass to eat it later that afternoon, I felt so much pride in the traditional Albanian dish I took part in making.