For some reason all of my greatest stories seem to occur while running. That may have something to do with the fact that I spend most of my free time working out instead of drinking (if only I was a guy…). So today I was running through a small mountain village near Bishqem, alongside of blooming cherry tree farms and groves of orange trees (you can be jealous now). It was such an upgrade from staring at the same spot on the wall while jogging on a treadmill in the U.S., let me tell you. As I jogged by each house, it occured to me– these people have never had to work a 9-5 job in their lives. They have never had to spend 2 hours stuck in traffic commuting to a job they hate. They’ve never sat in a cubicle behind a computer screen working tirelessly for a boss they can’t stand. And what’s more, it’s never even crossed their minds as a possibility. There is no stress over paying bills or mortgagesl; no student loands to repay, and no fear of how y o ur children are going to make a living after you’re gone. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to wake up everyday and do exactly what you want, when you want to. In these small Albanian towns if you you want a day off, you take it. And if you want to sleep in, then the chickens will just have to wait for their breakfast.
Life here is just a little bit slower and lot less stressful. You work until there is enough food on the table, and then you call it a day– you go grab a bear or a shot of raki (Albania’s answer to Moonshine), site on the porch, and enjoy the company of your friends and family. Now that’s a life I could get used to. It’s amazing how much you don’t miss all of the “things” that come with an American-city lifestyle when you are surrounded by such sublime simplicity.
“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.” – Peace Corps Staff 2012 (probably said 10-20 times daily)