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.