I realize now that it’s been far too long since I’ve posted something about my experience here in Albania. At first I felt a little guilty, but then it dawned on me that the reason I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been too busy having the time of my life. Honestly. I never in a million years thought my Peace Corps experience would turn out like this.
I thank my lucky stars every day to have been assigned the community of Shkoder because the people here have truly taken me under their wing. I can’t tell you how many coffees I’ve had and how many free meals I’ve been invited to in the last 2 months. People here will give you the world. It’s amazing really, because even though they are far less fortunate than I am, they still want to give me everything. If all they had left was one orange on their tree, they would give it to me and be happy just to see the smile on my face.
Just this afternoon I was invited for lunch at my counterpart’s house and I couldn’t refuse. (Not that I would ever dream of refusing a proper Albanian homecooked meal!) Her entire family was there including her parents, grandparents, husband, children, cousins…literally everyone. And all because they wanted me to try the traditional Shkodran food they had prepared and to see the look on my face when I first tasted it. I’ve never seen people so genuinely thankful and happy like that. It’s like I’m doing them a favor by eating their food. Such a strange concept, but one I could get used to!
And when I tried to leave to come home, they wouldn’t let me out the door without taking a million leftovers. Then just when I thought I was in the clear at the gate, her daughters ran up to me and gave me the biggest hugs and gave me fresh oranges they had picked from their trees. It’s days like this when I can’t wipe the silly smile off my face.
“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.”