Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kosovo Celebrates

Yesterday, Kosovo Albanians celebrated the one year anniversary of the declaration of independence from Serbia.  Many people stretched the celebration out to start on the 16th by closing shops early with essentially everything closed on the 17th.  The street party was massive and Smokey was emotionally traumatized by the huge fireworks displays, automatic gunfire, and smaller private celebrations that lasted for hours.  The celebration this year seemed to top that of the actually party that was held as people were able to plan much more in advance unlike last year when the date for declaring independence was not well-known.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

KEK in the Butt

Ha, I couldn’t help it. There were power problems (fuse kept blowing out) last night in a restaurant we were visiting and a friend piped up with “Someone needs a KEK in the butt” :) Classic!!! Actually, the power hasn’t been this bad this winter (reportedly production is up 30% compared to other years) so there have not been long power outages in Pristina.  Some of the smaller villages have been worse off but the power situation does appear to be improving slowly.

Kosovo has some wonderful nature such as Rugova Valley and Brezovica.  I have been trekking up to Mount Sara (Brezovica is actually the name of the village, not the mountain) on the weekends and taking snowboarding lessons.  Compared to back home in the US, learning and renting equipment here is next to nothing.  A ski rental will cost you 10€ a day and lessons are somewhere in the range of 10-15€ per hour.  A day pass on the ski-lift (you do have to pay again if you switch lifts) is 10€ or a single trip is only 3€ which is nice if you just want to ride up to the top to take some pictures and come back down again.  There aren’t really beginner slopes at Brezovica, the main slope is actually a black run, but it’s all good.  During your breaks from skiing/snowboarding, I can recommend stopping at Cakson for some hot spiced wine or Pizzaria Tina which has fantastic pizzas albeit in an extremely smoky environment.

On the downside of Brezovica, it is just absolutely jam-packed on Sundays and there is little to no crowd control at the ski-lifts.  The line is basically a push-and-shove fest to see who can come in from the side or push their way to the front.  I actually got my arm stuck between two people trying to hold onto the jacket of my instructor as they pushed in from the side and trapped me.  Another time I saw an interesting argument between a Albanian youth and a Polish KFOR soldier.  The youth attempted to cut in line in front of everyone and the soldier told him to get to the back of the line.  The youth then proceeded to start threatening the soldier who was backed up by three other Polish soldiers (all in uniform).  The next thing you know everyone in line is yelling at the youth about cutting in line but he didn’t care and just kept pushing forward.

The last thing that I saw really made me wonder about people in Kosovo and what people can get away with…a black Jeep Grand Cherokee with tinted windows was trying to push its way through a crowd of people waiting for the ski-lift.  People were moving out of the way the best they could with skis strapped to their feet and its possible that one person accidentally or intentionally hit the back of the vehicle with his ski pole.  The next thing you know two guys got out of the Jeep and attacked the skier, throwing him to the ground punching and kicking him in front of all the people at the ski lift.  The worst thing about it was that people were just “Hey, Hey” and didn’t move to help the guy that was being beaten-up and then the two guys just got back into the vehicle and drove off.  Ummm, hello!!!

MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kosovo Serbs Protest KSF

Kosovo Serbs organized demonstrations today in the north of Kosovo, blocking roads and traffic. The Serbs participating say that the security force threatens their safety. They also demonstrated against EULEX customs which began registering goods coming into Kosovo last week.  The demonstrators don’t want EULEX to set-up the customs point until an agreement is reached with Belgrade.

On Wednesday, the president of Kosovo named the head of the Kosovo Intelligence Service as Bashkim Smakaj, a former KPS officer. While relatively young, 32, Smakaj served as a colonel in the Kosovo Police Service.

MTCowgirl’s Kosovo News