Friday, July 7, 2006

Six More Months and a Little Soapboxing :o)

Well, it looks like I will be spending at least another six months in Kosovo.  Yup, my contract has been extended...again *Woohoo!  Twirl my finger in excitement*  Actually, I'm not that disappointed to stay on until the end of the year.  Kosovo is considered to be the 5-star mission because of its location, better living conditions, and overall security.  I think that it may be time for me to consider moving on to another mission because there are times that I just can't stand being in Kosovo >:o)  So, pardon me while I get up on my little soap-box for this post...and please no's called sarcasm, get used to it or get a sense of humor :-P
I was on vacation for the past month, home in the US for a couple graduations and a reunion.  I was actually looking forward to coming back to Kosovo but quickly got over that on the way home from the airport.  I don't know what it is but the citizens of Kosovo are just annoying at times.

<soapbox...start your sense of humor or don't read any further!>The way they drive (careless, reckless, insane are a few adjectives that come to mind)...the concept of standing in line that seems to be beyond a level of comprehension...the simple act of bathing...there are many little things that seem normal that are lacking when one arrives in Kosovo.

I've mentioned driving a few times in my posts.  Boy, if you come to Kosovo are you in for a treat!  I don't know how many near-misses I've seen in my years here but it's quite scary.  You've got a mixture of people driving like they're on a Formula One track and others with a horse-drawn carts. Buffer zones don't exist here.  If you are leaving a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you...nope, it's room for one more car...especially the guy who decided to pass a long line of cars without checking to look if there was oncoming traffic and has to whip in front of you before getting in a head-on collision :o)  It makes driving back home in the US oh-so more relaxing!

There are no lines per-se in Kosovo.  It's survival of the fittest...whoever pushes the most gets there first...looking out for numero uno!  Single-file, just forget about it.  Lines here are a mass grouping of people pushing their way in from the sides, middle, and wherever else they can push from.  I have found that a rolling suitcase makes for a great deterrent at the airport and is very helpful in preventing people from cutting in line...especially when you roll it over people's feet >:o)  Of course, a result of the pushing and shoving that a lot of people fail to realize is that when you push to be the first on the plane, you sit there the longest.  Or when you push off the plane, you often sit on the bus the longest and are the last off the bus!

It's summertime and I'm going to touch on that last point about the simple act of bathing.  Maybe it's a Balkan thing but when one comes from somewhere where bathing is a daily ritual, well it's just plain weird to pass someone on the street and be overwhelmed with the stench of seriously strong B.O. (body odor!)  It's not like there isn't indoor plumbing or water is expensive (a whooping 8.60 Euros per month, flat rate) but it just doesn't seem to be a concern for many people in Kosovo (and that is not limited to just one group of people's Kosovo-wide!) I know it has been a constant source of surprise for Americans who come to Kosovo that people don't bathe regularly here...I don't think I mentioned it before...but as the hottest months of summer approach, you notice it a little bit more!</soapbox>