Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Cold feet, warm greetings

Weather turned wintry again today. I suppose if I understood Albanian I could have watched the local news and seen the story about the un-seasonal icy rain and wind blowing into Pristina, but as it is, D and I were caught unawares. So much for the t-shirts and shorts we were sporting yesterday! Forget the ice creams we enjoyed on the rooftop patio! Today we're back in our fleeces.

We were kept warm by the friendly and down-to-earth people we met at our first Pristina playgroup today. They group is comprised of international families with children who have been here anywhere from a couple weeks to 6 years. They are very welcoming, used to new faces, and it was nice to watch D play with new friends -- she fit right in. I am also amazed at how child-bearing-and-rearing results in such common experiences. Luxembourg to Lithuania to Pristina to St. Pete, it's all the same. Kids! The biggest difference I could tell were that we're not being posted anywhere after this assignment. Many of the international workers here are part of a vast, nomadic employee population, working for NGOs, the EU, the UN and the many private relief agencies. They travel from place to place, for years and years, always with an eye to the future and where they might be placed next.

Today there have been many more people than usual visiting the war memorials in the field behind the house. We might be coming up on an anniversary of a battle. I'll have to ask our landlady.

Looks like plans are coming together for our first trip to Thessaloniki, Greece this weekend. It's a bit of a pain getting out of Kosovo. There are no regularly scheduled flights to anywhere but Vienna and the UK. There are no trains. Cars with Kosovo plates are (at this time) not allowed to cross the borders of many of the countries around here, and most Kosovars aren't allowed to leave Kosovo at all. So the best option is to take a country bus (unreliable and slow) or a taxi to the border of Macedonia, and the rental agencies from Skopje will come out to meet you there. Much different than just jumping in your car, gassing up and taking off. I'm learning how much I've taken for granted in my life.

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