You know spring has finally arrived when you wake up to birds singing, the sun rising over the mountaintops, and the sweet smell of flowers in the air. That’s what Shkoder has been like for the last week. No complaints here, that’s for sure!
On every street corner in Shkoder there are people selling these flowers. They are called “mimozas” in Albania and they are the national symbol of Teacher’s Day (March 7) and Women’s Day (March 8). It may seem gimicky, but I think I’ve fallen for it. Every day this week I’ve seen students stop and buy mimozas on their way to school. My American self thought that maybe they were gifts from secret boyfriends or that, you know, maybe they would be giving them to their favorite American volunteer English teacher. But alas, no. People here honestly just remember to stop and smell the roses…or rather the mimozas.
It’s a reminder to me to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. In the U.S. I feel like I was constantly sprinting from one metro station to the next, headphones in, texting someone on my cellphone, and turns pages on the kindle in my other hand. Americans are so plugged into technology that we forget to pay attention to the beautiful little things that make life worth living. But not in Albania. Here, all the women (and even some of the men) are carrying around these bouquets of mimozas every where they go, lifting them to their face to smell them every now and then…almost as a reflex. It’s a subconscious, unqualified and undebated aspect of spring. When they sell the mimozas on the street, you should buy them and appreciate the fact that spring is here. Maybe this comes from the fact that winter here is so damn difficult? Who knows.
In Albania life is just a little bit slower. But in a good way. Strangely enough I think I’ve grown to like that part of my life here. I know, crazy right? Me, the type-A, perfectionist, control-freak with a 50 year plan. But it’s true. And now I plan on returning to America with a little more appreciation for the people and the nature around me. And hopefully I’ll remember to stop and smell the mimozas.
“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.”