Saturday, July 02, 2005

For the birds

Summer here is crazy. Really hot. Really dusty. Huge bugs and birds everywhere. And just when you're getting used to it, suddenly the temperature drops 15 degrees in three hours and it feels like Fall. Go figure.

Hitchcock must have visited Pristina at some point. Every summer, parts of the city, luckily not ours, are invaded by HUGE flocks of gigantic black birds. They are about the size of crows, but up close look like black-and-gray pigeons. At night they swarm the treetops looking for roosting places. You can also catch them in silhouette, sitting on the roofs like poorly designed weathervanes. The Bird Problem is especially terrible in the neighborhood known as Dragodan Hill were they say the bird droppings can pile so high it will completely cover a car. Just another special little something to look out for if you ever decide to vacation here. There was a flock of them in the field behind our house yesterday and the noise was terrible.

The food situation has improved for us. Not only have I managed to create several edible meals right here in my own kitchen, but we've found a handful of restaurants where the meat is reliable, the veggies fresh and the waiters speak enough English to communicate that D's pasta must be plain - no sauce, butter, cheese or the dreaded "spices." Last Thursday we had dinner at Rio 2. M had the "Germia flower" - beefsteak filet stuffed with tomatoes and "djath" - the local soft cheese. I had grilled chicken medallions with djath. D had fried trapist cheese and some of my chicken. Rio is a great restaurant with a super outside terrace. It's on the way to Germia, which is a large park with hiking trails, cafes, soccer fields and even a pool.

It's nice to eat outside since it has been so hot lately and nothing is air-conditioned. Being inside a shop or restaurant in this heat can be an unbearably hot, smelly, stuffy experience. In general, no windows are opened because the Albanians don't like drafts. Someone told me this story how a local told her that a draft could "make your uterus fall out." Uh...whatever. But even in this heat you see little kids walking around in long sleeved shirts, heavy jumpers and tights. It must be horrible for them. But relief is on the way. This morning (Saturday) it is in the 60s again and I saw an Internet weather report that the high on Sunday is only 59. (I'll believe it when I feel it.) I guess that's the deal for this area of the world -- the weather is as unpredictable as anything else.

D's tummy is still off-kilter, but she's happy and active anyway. And back to napping every day. I don't feel as guilty blogging, surfing, e-mailing, etc. if she's not awake and asking me to play or watch a video.

Friday was M's official last day of work here. We're off on holiday tomorrow and I'm looking forward to some Hungarian delicacies -- and a real shower. We'll be home in ten days. Woo-hah! Life is grand.

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