Friday, May 11, 2007

Taxi Drivers in Kosovo, A Rare Breed

Okay, so taxi drivers everywhere in the world are special but sometimes it's amusing just how special they really are.  Taking taxis in Kosovo can be relaxing and luxurious (where else in the world do they have Mercedes-Benz taxis?!) or a praying-to-God-for-safe-delivery experience.  One of my colleagues had the misfortune of the latter of the two the other day when he was unable to find one of his normal drivers by the Grand Hotel.  Climbing into one of the company-affiliated taxis, he gave his directions and they were off.  The driver pealed out of the parking spot nearly plowing over a couple pedestrians and continued to weave in and out of traffic lanes practically managing to pass every single vehicle within a five kilometer radius.  If a vehicle happened to be in the way or he saw a nice looking girl walking along the road, he used his horn to express his feelings of impatience or delight.  Luckily my friend and the taxi managed to arrive at the destination safely and as my friend scrambled out, he got a good look at the driver and committed his face to memory in an effort to never have that experience again :o)
Other fun experiences in Kosovo with taxis really depend on the driver and whether or not the taxi is with a company.  If you are seeking adventure, I recommend going with a taxi driver without a meter and not part of a company.  Sometimes you will be lucky but many times you will have a great travel experience to share with your grandchildren later on!  As part of your story, you can tell about how after you climbed in the taxi, you noticed that the driver could not start the vehicle due to a lack of a car key and was trying to spark the wires together (just like in the movies) to get the car started.  After failing to do so after a few minutes of trying, the driver finally gets his buddies at the taxi stand to give you a push-start and off you go, vowing never to take that taxi driver again even if he is parked outside your house!  My wicked sense of humor,'s true and one of those special "back when I was in Kosovo" stories!

In the news...beep, beep, da-ba, beep...MTCowgirl's Daily Kosovo Update (that's rather catchy and oh, yeah, I'm in a weather-is-great-and-it's-Friday mood!) :o) 
Okay, so coming back to the news...

Albin Kurti, leader of Vetevendosje (Self-Determination Group), has been released from prison but was immediately placed under house arrested by the request of the prosecutor.  Kurti has been in prison since 10 February when two Vetevendosje demonstrators were killed by rubber bullets fired by Romanian riot police.  Kurti faced charges for inciting violence and endangering lives.  His first sentence of 30-days was extended.  While Kutri was in prison, his deputy Glauk Konjufca has taken charge but failed to bring in the same numbers as the charismatic Kurti.  Other than his Self-Determination activities, Kurti is well-known as a student activist against Serbian policies in Kosovo and was imprisoned in Serbia for some time during the war.

A Kosovo-Albanian man who left Kosovo in 2004 after alleged chastisement and harassment for his refusal to fight in the 1999 war has been stranded in Canada for the past two years.  Ardian Koshi was refused refugee status in 2004 but was unable to return to Kosovo due to a lack of valid documents.  Since he has no UNMIK-issued travel documents and the documents can only be obtained in Kosovo, Koshi has been trying to get deported from Canada for almost a year but so far has failed to return to Kosovo where he left his wife and child.

And the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research featured an article that argues against Ahtisaari's plan.  The authors call the plan "un-fair, un-intellectual, and un-viable" and sort through problems with the international strategy and Kosovo's leadership.