Saturday, August 21, 2004


Saw something interesting this past week that I almost forgot to share!  While sitting at lunch outside on the patio of a restaurant with some friends from work, I actually saw someone toss a bathtub from the second story of a building to the ground.  Yes, I did say bathtub.  It made quick a ruckus and we really could not believe our eyes!  But hey, I guess when you are remodeling, if the tub has to go, it has to go!!!

I had a Mexican fiesta this evening with friends.  I had brought back a bottle of Margarita mix in my hand-luggage so they could get a taste of real margaritas with Jose Cuervo (which by the way, you cannot purchase in the region unless you go to Greece.)  If I mentioned the Mexican restaurant before, I take back anything I said about it being great.  The last time we went, the food was not so good and when the power went out, the restaurant did not have a generator, which made us wonder how they were keeping the food fresh.  Anyways, while I was gone, Didem went there and ended up sick...soooo, I'm thinking that the only fajitas I'll be eating are the homemade ones from now on.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Container for the Joy

 I'm having difficulty containing the joy I feel in being back in Kosovo.  I missed having dribble showers in the mornings and playing the power-schedule guess games!  It is wonderful to be back in the uncivilized world!  Most of the time the power is off or goes off when I get home and dinner is usually served around 9-10pm when and if the power comes on.  The water pressure suddenly dropped two days ago after I was thinking the problems were over...and I got a trickle shower this morning :) 
I need to bring a plumber over to the flat sometime next week to fix the kitchen sink and bathroom toilet.  Both are flowing a bit too freely for my taste.  It is virtually impossible to completely turn off the cold water in the kitchen so I finally stuck a post-it note says "Do Not Use Cold Water" after ripping the knob off and using pliers to turn the tap off.  Sometime the boiler above the sink creates a waterfall down from the cabinet where it is hidden into the sink area which is annoying when you happen to be standing there when the water starts flowing!  I imagine that the kitchen faucet and boiler will need to be replaced.  Then the toilet is missing a large chunk of the porcelain from inside.  I normally have a decorated towel covering the ugly tank with a heavy candleholder sitting on top of it to make the bathroom a little nicer looking.  Smokey wanted to see what it was and ended up knocking the very heavy candleholder into the toilet and breaking the piece off from the inside.  Plus the toilet is frightfully ugly and the water-pipe from the reservoir to the toilet leaks...while it is clean water, it still kind of grosses me out.

You know what I miss about being home?  The ability to identify food!  Yesterday, Didem asked me about a special type of flour that she needed to make a Turkish cake.  While I knew what she needed, neither of us knew how to correctly identify it at the supermarket because basically everything is in a Balkan language (Serbian, Albanian, Slovenian).  I also have trouble finding good cheese (man do I miss cheddar!)  They don't call Swiss cheese Swiss cheese here...and trying to identify the different types with how they taste...well, I'm a lost cause.  Mozzarella comes in a package with water and is not dry as it is in the US.  The cheddar I find here is from England and tastes very different than our Wisconsin cheddar.  And the only shredded cheese you'll find is if you want cheese for your gotta do it yourself.

I think I may have a new neighbor as I saw a vehicle with Oklahoma license plates this morning.  That was kind of weird!  Kosovo is about the last place I would expect to find license plates for a Native American Indian tribe!  There isn't a checkpoint per se anymore except the occasional one set-up by the inept KPS who stare at you like you have sprouted three heads as you drive by.  They sometimes take a break from gossiping to check the documents of passing vehicles but mostly it seems to be a coffee break minus the coffee.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Back in Kosovo

I'm back and boy, it sure didn't take long for me to remember where I was!!!  It's my second day of work and I'm ready to go back on vacation!  In fact, I'm already planning a two week break at the beginning of September :-D

The story of my adventure back to Kosovo start with the flight leaving Zurich which was delayed about an hour which seems to be a normal occurrence with Macedonian Airlines (every time I've flown, it has been an hour off schedule) so we sat on the plane for an hour at the gate.  Then while we were waiting, a lady a couple seats in front of me decided to get comfortable so she took off her shoes and planted her bare feet up at the top of the window where she was sitting.  The flight then took off and there isn't much to discuss except the plethora of crying babies that seem to be a given on any flight to the Balkans.  Upon landing, people were in a rush so immediately when the wheels touched the ground they were opening the bins for the carry-on luggage and getting ready to de-plane...all as we are taxing to the terminal.  Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you that they applauded after Capt.. Kangaroo landed the plane.  Finally, as I was waiting in line (or at least what is considered a line in the Balkans) some dude (I refuse to call him a gentleman or man) came along the side of me, cut in front of me and then proceeded to do the same to the man who was in line before me!  Man I love traveling in the Balkans!

Then it was 1 1/2 hour joy-ride around semi-trucks, tractors, and horse-drawn carts back to Kosovo!  Finally, I arrived home and surprisingly enough, the power went out!!!  Reportedly, the power was off for four hours and on for two over the weekend.  Because I don't have any idea about the power schedule (UNMIK hasn't updated us since April) it is a blind guess of whether or not I'll be able to eat when I get home or if I'll have to wait two hours for the power to come on.