Italy 2012

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I’ve been back from Italy for over a month.  I finally posted pictures on Facebook, so I should probably post some on here.  It is a good way to distract myself from a paper I have to write 🙂

I had an absolutely amazing time in Italy.  I flew to Rome, spent about 4 days there and then headed down to Naples for a few days.  From Naples I took a day trip to Pompei.  I had been to Rome once before, but only saw the Colosseum from the outside.  During that trip I spent most of my time in UN buildings in meetings and walking around the city lost.  This trip was much more relaxing, and since I was by myself I got to do whatever I wanted to do!  Now I walk a lot in Albania, but I walked a TON in Rome.  I walked all over that city and enjoyed every second of it!  If you haven’t been to Rome I highly recommend going and letting yourself get lost in little back alleyways.

Naples was nice.  I have a friend who lives there, so he showed me around, told me stories about Naples, and took me to a great pizza place (Naples is the birthplace of pizza).

Pompei was a little underwhelming for me.  I was sooo excited about seeing the casts of the bodies that were found during excavation.  For those of you that don’t know about Pompei, or these body casts, I’ll fill you in.  When they were excavating Pompei they found these air bubbles in the volcanic deposits.  They discovered that if they filled these spaces with plaster that it created molds of the people who died from the volcanic eruption.  I am extremely fascinated with death and the idea that you can see the positions these people died in.  To my dismay, there were only 2 molds of people on display at Pompei.  Had I went to the archeological museum in town I probably would have seen more of these casts, but I didn’t.

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In case there is an explosion…

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Wow, you guys are so lucky today…2 posts in one day!

Thought I’d share with you the conversation that occurred in my office today (I translated it for your understanding):

Me (in response to the yelling outside the office, while trying to record translations): Can we shut the door?

Nurse 1: No.  We need to leave it open in case the heater explodes again…so we can run out quickly.  We need to be prepared.

Nurse 2: In case it catches on fire again.

Brrrrr

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Brrrr…a massive cold front is in Eastern Europe (now headed West).  Fortunately, Gjirokaster isn’t getting the worst of it…Bosnia has declared an emergency situation, people are skiing in the streets in Bosnia, and Ukraine has measured in at -33 F.  Gjirokaster did, however, receive about a foot of snow (which is a TON for here!…last winter there were two dustings of snow that seemed to shut down everything).  Luckily the snow hasn’t lasted long, only two days, because since then we have had heavy rain storms.  This city definitely was not built for snow…cobblestone roads are just not winter friendly.  It makes driving, and being a pedestrian, in this country that much scarier!

The lot next to my house.

Qafa e Gjirokaster (the main intersection in the old town)

Outside my apartment I found the CUTEST snowman ever. It has olives for eyes, a carrot nose, and real buttons down the front!

 

2011

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It has been so long since I blogged that I don’t even remember when I wrote my last blog, or what it was about.  So, expect a few blogs this week, covering: Christmas, New Years, and my recent trip to Italy.

WordPress did a little 2011 year in review of my blogging, so I thought I’d write out a year in review of what I accomplished and saw in 2011.  2011 was my first (and last) ENTIRE year in Peace Corps Albania.  It was definitely a year of ups and downs.  Here are some highlights of my year:

  • Survived living through political strife in Albania, which luckily didn’t last long, but had me worried
  • Also survived my first Albanian winter (with lots of wool socks and long underwear)
  • Moved into my 3rd (and what seems to be my final) house in Gjirokaster
  • Traveled to Athens many times during the summer (I think I was there 4 times during the summer)
  • Filled up all my passport pages! 🙂
  • Had my bff from grad school visit me!
  • Went on a small eurotrip with my brother (he also spent time in Albania visiting me)…visited Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece.
  • Attended a study session on Peace and Volunteering in Budapest, Hungary.
  • Went beach hopping during the summer…visit beaches from Southern Albania up to the central.
  • Took a ferry over to Italy to spruce up my wardrobe up a little at H&M with my bff from Peace Corps Kristen.
  • Dated an Albanian…interesting experience that taught me a lot about the culture.
  • Did many lessons in the schools of Gjirokaster and surrounding villages on H1N1 flu, oral hygiene, contraceptives, STIs, cervical cancer, drugs, alcohol, smoking, anti-trafficking, breast cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
  • Started working on my practicum (putting together a prenatal course)…the nurses and I translated and dubbed over more than a dozen videos about pregnancy.
  • Washed all my clothes by hand for an entire year…only a few more months left of it!

It has been a busy year; one that has taught me a lot about life and myself.  I hope this coming year is as exciting as last!

Drought

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Remember when this happened last year?

Flooding on December 6, 2010

And I spent my nights surrounded by candles because the power would be out for days?

The dinner I made over a small bunsen burner last December.

And then remember this from this summer?

The fire my bus drove through in August.

We went from flooding last year to a huge drought this summer….and this winter.  I read on the Albanian news website that 2011 is the year with one of the biggest droughts in the past 50 years.  It is kinda a big deal because most power produced in Albania is hydro.  Hope that doesn’t mean more power outages!  You can find the article here: http://www.top-channel.tv/english/artikull.php?id=3868