Breasts, travels and reunions

Yesterday was the international day for mammography. Here in Lezhë, my sitemate Jen organized a breast cancer awareness walk and seminar. The planning and organizing phase was a frustrating time, and in true Albanian fashion the event didn’t really come together until the very last minute. But it was a huge success and there were about 60 women and teenagers at the event – and the talk was complete with a fake breast that they all could touch to practice doing self exams.


In talking with Jen last night about how it all went, I decided that my favorite part of the whole thing was how much it showed how known we are and how much we have come to know our community. People we know were waving to us on the street as we walked past, and after the walk Jen got a hug from a shopkeeper (where we are regulars) who finally realized that we work here and aren’t just visiting. The support from Albanian friends was overwhelming (though we might not have felt it at the beginning of the planning process).

Tomorrow I leave for a few days in Macedonia for vacation. It will be my first real trip out of Albania in 7 months….except for a meeting in Ulqinj in Montenegro last week. After crossing the border into Montenegro it’s like the trash and the naked rebar disappear….so I am curious to see how yet another Balkan neighbor (and a PC country at that) gets along. Plus it should be fun to let loose a bit and be truly anonymous for the first time in a while.

I’ll then be in Elbasan for our language refresher conference. It will be the first time all 50 (well, now we are 48) of us group 13ers have been together since training.


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