I've read about the differences in culture between the countries but never experienced it before. While I love my newly met Albanian family, I would never change lifestyles. The woman really is seen differently, some would say less than equal but I don't believe this. The woman seems to understand what is expected of them but accept it as all they know. The men seem to treat them with respect and love. It's just that I want to be able to make decisions for myself. Maybe they do...
Relis and his cousins
I found that enjoying the company of people you want so to communicate with extremely taxing. We were, however, blessed that our son-in-law speaks fluent Albanian and English. He wasn't always available to translate.
His cousins both spoke fluent social English. It was fun to talk with them and learn about their dreams and aspirations. The youngest is about twelve years old. He even went to English lessons on Saturday morning. He is so eager to learn about everything, especially America. We talked about the development of the European culture and the American. He loves history and he told me all about Christopher Columbus and Magellan. As a retired teacher this eagerness to learn was inspiring to me. I'd become rather jaded. Even the best students I saw did not have this enthusiasm when it came to learning.
Grandma and Grandpa with Relis and Jenee
The older nephew, probably about sixteen, seemed more interested in the photographs I'd taken and seeing the world. He spoke of professional photography. I wasn't sure if that was what he wanted to do or if some of the photos I showed him he thought were professional.
Relis' sister is going to school to become a nurse and spoke some English. She is starting her masters program in Tirana and one of the requirements is English. They speak of English as the International Language and is a must to learn.
I also had a chance to speak with Relis' uncle's wife. We had a brief conversation about the roles of women and equality. She was very curious about everything American.
I was so impressed with my extended family.
This is everyone but the youngest cousin who must have taken this picture
The role of the guest: Be waited on and expected to do nothing, especially in front of the men. When I was just in the presence of the women, and with the youngest nephew as an interpreter, I cut an apple and shared. At first they were a bit alarmed but after a few minutes and my explaining that I wanted to do this, they accepted. I'm sure this would not have been allowed if any man was present.
Just before we left for the airport the grandfather's sister came to visit. She had walked quite a ways to see us. I think she might have been a bit sad that she'd missed our daughter who'd had to leave earlier that morning. But she was a feisty woman, with opinions she shared. She gave me a great big sweaty hug and cheek kisses when she arrived and when we left for the airport. I loved her the minute I saw her.
Grandpa and his sister
What an experience and perhaps some day we will return.
I was given several recipes but I will have to figure out amount of ingredients. They cook by memory. The family is fairly self-sufficient. They grow black grapes and white grapes which they eat, make jam from as well as raki (our equivalent is 'moonshine'). They drink it whenever they please. They also grow tomatoes, cucumbers, white (pinto) beans, green beans, figs (made fig jam), olive trees, oranges, tangerines, apples, lettuce, and persimmons. There was probably more...