This morning a few of our group members Joey, Mike, Nikki, Doug and our Peace Core volunteer Danielle went on an early morning run through the city center. This was a different experience because in Albania people don’t exercise in public spaces. The only difference between running here and in America is that you are dodging cars running through the streets.
After everyone got showered and cleaned up we all enjoyed the complementary breakfast the hotel offered which included eggs,cheese, bread, and jam. Once Danielle and Brandi came back we were off to the Venice Art.
Venice Art is a mask and costume factory that makes hand make masks for Carnival. These masks are hand crafted and sent to Italy for the world known carnival. All of the masks are colorful and had a wide range of different designs, some were made to wear others to hang on display at home as trinkets. Everyone was wanting to buy a mask but some thought that they were to expensive and delicate to fly home without damage.
After the mask factory we headed to the town of Vau des. This is a small village town outside the city. Here the way of life is very different it quiet and no hustle and bustle. We parked the van and took about a fifteen minute walk up the mountain to a small coffee shop. On the way up we saw our first trash pig. He was wondering around and headed towards our group but Jewel and Zeff sent the pig away but it was still such a funny experience to see a pig running down the street. After we got up the hill we saw the Hydroelectric plant/dam that the Chinese built for Albania. Finally, after reaching the coffee shop we sat down and got warm. Danielle told her table about the shop owners story.
The shop owner’s story is one that apparently most have in Albania. The older gentleman was imprisoned during the communist regime Albania experienced. He was in jail because he was against the government at the time and he was deemed an “enemy of the people.” While we were there we met his young son Since most of his young life he wasn’t able to marry or have children. In this country it is your goal to have a family.
After coffee we walked down to the van it was now time for another traditional meal. This restaurant was called MRIZI ZANAVE which was located in the town of Fishta. The town where its located is named after a political hero and writer. At this restaurant everything that they use to cook with comes from within the town. This includes all the produce, meat and even the grapes for the wine. Here they let you know before hand that you are suppose to enjoy this meal slowly. The first thing that you are given is a pomegranate juice, then they offer you wine. One thing that you are surprised by or what we were all surprised by is the salad, it was topped with baby goat brain. After that they food kept coming, and coming. Once everyone was stuffed we all piled back into the van and headed back to the hotel.
Once everyone rested for a bit we all decided to spilt up to do a guys and girls night. They boys headed to a sports bar also known as “LLoto Sport” and watched an exhibition soccer match and had some dinner. The girls headed to the restaurant “San Fransico” who Danielle and Brandi knew very well. The store owner lived in San Fransico for awhile and wanted to blend them together. He welcomed all of us to Albania and wanted to make sure everything came out well. He took a picture with all of us and wanted us to find his restaurant on Facebook and help us promote it. What we all enjoyed was that this is one of the only places in Albania that was smoke free. We all sat and talked about school and Albania. We really compared the norms of the U.S. and Albania.
The girls were very sad to see Brandi and Danielle leave us at the end of the night they had become very close with us over the two days we had in Shkoder. We really did appreciate what they did for us and what they do in the Peace Core.
It was an early night because we had an early time the next morning to head back to the capital city.