Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I was able to find a frozen turkey in one of the local supermarkets but I won't have the chance to cook it for a couple of weeks.  Maybe I'll try to do a traditional holiday dinner with my friends before traveling home for Christmas.  For me, Thanksgiving was always a time to spend with friends and I'm feeling a little down today to be so far away from the comforts of home.  But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful to have the opportunity to come to Kosovo and to have met the wonderful people here...all the people.

I had lunch with two of my girlfriends today.  The restaurant was full but I was able to grab the last table upstairs.  A few minutes after sitting down, I got a message that my friends were sitting downstairs in the restaurant.  I told them that I was upstairs and they came up, not very happy with the situation and I understand why.  They arrived a couple minutes before I did and when they asked for the table for three, they were directed downstairs even though the table was free in the corner where I was seated.  They were told the table was reserved.  When I arrived, I was shown to the table by the waiters immediately...and I had not reserved the table.  Why did I get the table and they were banished to the basement? 

Well, my girlfriends are from Kosovo, the label "local" or "national" is applied to them, and I am an international.  I have more money and blah, blah, blah with all the stereotypes of why the internationals are somehow better than people from Kosovo.  All I have to say is "what a crock of bull$hit."  I don't understand how a person can classify themselves as superior to another person based on the fact that they are from another country.  I often have asked myself how a person from a war-ravaged African country can think they are better than a Kosovar because there is a UN-mission here when there is also a UN-mission in their country.  How does a passport make you superior?  In the end, it is just a bunch of pieces of paper bound together by glue.  The true spirit and essence of the nature of the person lies within their heart, not their nationality.  The worth of a person is not based on where they are from but their actions and behavior to their fellow man...the contents of their soul. 

I often find myself annoyed at the behavior of expatriates in Kosovo towards the Kosovars.  I especially annoys me when I hear people talking about how they don't care about the problems and are only here for the money.  If they took a moment to look at the situation...looked into the eyes of the children begging for money on the streets...maybe they would start caring.  But too often, people miss the details of their surroundings.  Kosovo and her people are beautiful and special.  I'm glad that I am here.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Popsicle Toes

Brrrr!!! It is hella cold outside!!!  Actually, it's not that cold but it is around freezing.  It's pretty cold inside the flat as well since the heaters were off in the house for a week while we were in Brussels. Emin, the landlord's son, built two fires to heat up the house but failed to turn on any of our electric heaters *hehe*  So, when I got home, I built fires again and turned on all available heaters...but then the power went out around 3am and was scheduled to stay off until 12pm.  I guess the power plant crapped out and they were doing emergency imports of power only for the hospitals and like facilities. 

So, I am back to the morning ritual of waking up, taking Smokey outside, and spending 20 minutes hauling firewood and building fires :)  I do love the winter though...sometimes I wish I could just sit in front of the fire and not go anywhere!  Smokey was lucky to get a little sympathy from Emin while we are gone and spent some time in the house unsupervised.  Tonight when I go home, providing there is power, I will look to see if and where he peed in the house :-P

The flight back to Pristina was the late Austrian flight that arrives at 9:45pm.  Flying over Kosovo at night was a rare treat that I had not yet experienced.  You know when you fly to cities in the US, you can see defined streets, organized neighborhoods, neat and concise city planning?  Well, flying over Kosovo more looks like someone took a couple strings of Christmas lights, tangled them up into knots and threw them into a box *chuckle* 

I almost forgot to share...I bought a freshwater lobster for my fish tank right before I left for Brussels.  He seems to be doing well with the other fish although they did eat nine neon tetras overnight!  He also killed one of the other smaller fish in the aquarium...but I have to say that fish didn't do much except hang out near the maybe he deserved it *hehe*  Survival of the fittest!!!  Anyways, I now have two cleaner fish (one big nasty looking slug one that has yet to be identified), one large black fish with an orange tail, one large blue fish that hides in the castle all day, two zebra fish, one Beta fighting fish, one striped fish with a hard-spike on his back (poked a hole in the bag when I bought him and was stuck in the bag!), and finally, Larry the Lobster :)

Monday, November 8, 2004

Old Man Winter

It seems that Old Man Winter has come to Kosovo.  The temperature dropped last Thursday evening and by Saturday night, it was raining.  Yesterday, there were big flakes of snow mixed in with the rain and the temperature was only 45ºF.  I was freezing in the morning when I woke up and dragged out all my heaters.  Unfortunately, Smokey had peed on a couple of the heaters so one is now outside on the patio for him...I can't seem to get rid of the nasty smell it gives off.  And last night, I started my first wood fire of the season...ah, I was reminded of how nice a wood-fire is and how lovely it sounds :)

The power has started going off regularly again.  It looks like for now the schedule with be four on, two off until it gets really cold.  Then who knows what will happen!  Last night I had one of those exasperating Kosovo moments.  The power went out so I went outside to start the generator.  Sometimes when it has been run for a couple days, it can be stubborn and difficult to start.  So I was pulling, pulling, and pulling (starts like a lawnmower) but it wouldn't start.  So, I went inside for a second to cool down...kicking the generator usually only hurts my foot :)  Then I went outside and pulled, nothing, pulled, nothing, pulled...chug, chug, chug.  YES!  Got it started.  Suddenly it was really bright inside.  I thought for myself, wow, the generator is working really well.  Then I realized, the power was back on *hehe*  So, I turned off the generator and turned the tv back on.  Ten minutes later, the power went off again.  Grrrrr, I said to myself, I will wait five minutes to see if the power came back on.  But it didn't so I turned on the generator for the next two hours.

I scored a hat-trick last night.  Caught and killed three mice in the hallway with my old-fashioned, break-the-neck, nasty mouse traps.  I'm sure there are more lurking in the hallway so I will reset them tonight and see what else I catch.  The house I live in is 20 years old so in the winter, field mice can be a problem.  We've had the darnedest time trying to find mouse-traps.  The local markets don't seem to sell anything but luckily, I guess they have problems at Bondsteel (US base in Kosovo) because I found traps there :)  So, with a little cheese and the properly placed trap I'm a deadly weapon against intruding mice *hehe*