Tuesday, July 27, 2004

What's Up Wit' Dat?

Whoa X 100%!!!  I spent around 15 hours without power yesterday.  It was probably due to the huge thunderstorm that descended on Kosovo like a rabid, starving pack of dogs would on a discarded steak.  I very sarcastically offer my opinion that maybe the power plant was struck by lightening and blew up AGAIN (happened in the summer of 2002 where the lightening insulators had a shelf-life of 25 years but in the power plant, they were over 40 years old.  Lightening struck during a storm and the station was pretty much destroyed).  Today the power situation appears to be stabilizing to four hours on and two hours off.  But I have to admit that last night tested my resolve (why oh why am I here?) while I sat in the semi-dark of my house listening to the hum of the neighborhood generators. 

On the waterfront, it has been raining non-stop since yesterday night so there isn't a lack of water in our flat now.  I had a nice shower this morning before running out of hot water because there wasn't electricity to run the boiler...yeah, yeah...can't have my cake and eat it too, right?  Anyways, I'm looking forward to coming home to the States for two weeks to take long hot showers, eat Taco Bell Seven-Layer Burritos, shop in the Galleria Sunset Mall, and see some of my friends from the university...ah, the life!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Sittin' in the Dark

Whoa!  What's up with the power???  All of a sudden, we are having severe power problems.  Severe means that we are going with two hours of power and then four/five hours without power.  It for a lack of better description...really sucks!  I'm afraid that I will end up tossing all my food out of the freezer and fridge unless the situation improves in the next couple of days.  Luckily I still have the trusty Honda generator on the porch so it is running now so I can update you :) 

It's almost ten o'clock at night and I just had my shower.  The water was off last night and this morning. 
Actually, this morning really wasn't a good one for me (other than being sick) I had just finished lathering my shampoo when the water went out.  I had to rinse the soap out with a tiniest trickle of water while hanging my head upside-down because the trickle was ice cold and I wasn't about to let it run down my back!!!

The wild dogs in Gracanica are running around in a pack now.  They seem to like coming in our yard around one o'clock in the morning and picking fights.  Smokey is kept in his kennel for his safety so that he doesn't get his butt kicked again...and isn't mistakenly shot by KFOR when and if they decide to clean up the streets.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Where'd the Time Go?

Wow! Has it really been two weeks? I've been working like crazy and I really lost track of the time! I've hardly been online from home lately to chat with those of you who are online in the mornings in the US...you know, those of you who are getting ready to have lunch and I say "Well, off to bed!"  My project is getting ready for deployment and that's why I've been offline and spending so much time in my office. 
I do have to share with you though that I believe I had my first case of food poisoning (or at least bad food) in three years last week.  I woke up in the middle of the night last Tuesday with a stomach ache and things progressed from bad to worse on Wednesday.  I ended up going home in the afternoon so I could be close to the bathroom...so I spent the rest of the day running from the bed to bathroom.  I won't share all the gross details with you but let me just say that I've never been so miserable in my life.  Now, it may have not been bad food to blame...because of the water shortages and rationing of late, it is possible that the water that was used to wash vegetables or the dishes was contaminated.

The temperature took a dive last week into the 60's and it rained for a couple of days.  The summer has been rather interesting this year...so mild that I fear we will have a harsh winter.  Luckily I still have quite a bit of firewood left over from last year and it will be nice and dry!!!  But the weather got a bit nicer over the weekend so maybe summer isn't quite over yet :)  Our water problems seem to have been solved by the rain last week as we've had an abundance of water up until this morning.  This morning I had a regular shower but without a lot of pressure...but I won't complain too much as long as there is warm water coming out the showerhead!  I just hope that the water isn't connected to the rain but rather the work they've been doing along the road in the next village.

KFOR can't seem to make up their minds whether or not they want the checkpoint to be manned.  As of late, the American KFOR soldiers are coming after dark and setting up a checkpoint.  They gave us a bit of a scare one night because it was pitch black as the power was off, no moon, and no one was wearing reflective gear and the only lights they had were the little green chemical glow-sticks.  A stroke of genius on their part...and luck on ours that we didn't hit anyone!!!

Monday, July 5, 2004

Happy 4th of July!

The 4th of July passed with little notice for me this year.  There were no parades, no fireworks...only a small gathering at Didem's flat just for fun (not to celebrate American Independence.)  An interesting thing is that many Albanians celebrate the 4th of July simply because they credit the US with ending the war.  I believe it is on the 2nd of July that Kosovo received its autonomy in the 1980's from Serbia and last year, the celebrations were deferred to coincide with the 4th of July.

I went down to Prizren on the weekend.  It is about a one and half hour drive from Pristina through the mountains to Prizren.  I was surprised to see four marked mine fields right on the side of the road and then discover later that the mine fields were just found last week!  Three years ago when I went through my UNMIK orientation, we were informed that Kosovo was 99% clear of mines...but really, I wonder how accurate that statistic is if they find four new mine fields after three years and the fields exist right along the highway?!?!

I am becoming the queen of the bucket shower...okay, it's not really a bucket but a really big mixing bowl :)  The water pressure is so poor in my flat that I haven't had a really good shower in over a week!  Yeah, I know what you are thinking and the answer is yes, I have been bathing :-P  But how I would love to stand under a strong warm spray of water for five minutes!  And if I get home after 10pm, there isn't even a gram of water to wash your face, hands...unless your bathroom looks like mine with 15 refilled water bottles sitting on the floor *chuckle*

The checkpoint is completely unmanned now except for Saturday night.  The soldiers were doing thorough checks of the vehicles entering and it took us about 20 minutes to go the distance of six houses!  The concrete blocks, barbed wire, and metal barriers are still there so the soldiers can setup the checkpoint on the fly if they want to.  I imagine that they probably will be around during the weekends.