For those of you who haven’t heard, this winter is one of the coldest in recent memory for all of Europe. People are dying from low -30s Celsius temperatures in the Ukraine and Romania, and here in Lezhe the bitter wind is out of control.
Unfortunately this kind of weather means that not a lot happens work-wise in Albania. The high school in Lezhe doesn’t have functional windows or heat of any kind so the students have been let out of school early every day for the past two weeks. I may live on the coast where there isn’t much snow, but when the wind blows even the slightest bit the power goes out with an infuriating regularity that is almost predictable, but not quite.
For example, I have had power about half the time over the last month….and I never know when it will be on or off. This is mostly not a problem for my daily existence, except when I hope to accomplish anything at the office. All of this means that lately I’ve been spending a lot of time planning to have meetings that never happen and instead going for coffees or coming home and sitting infront of the fire. Just this week we had to postpone an Outdoor Ambassadors film night fundraiser because the theater we were going to use does not have any heat and we thought that no one would attend.
Conveniently a few of my close friends here recently celebrated their birthdays – good excuses to get together and be cold with company. But, when we’re together and the power is out and we don’t want to go outside….what do PCVs like me do, you ask?
Well, we play lots of cards. Lots and lots of cards. Sometimes, like this past week, we make forts out of all the blankets and pillows in the room to make a warm space to huddle. But most of the time we sit around and converse.
I can’t remember any time in the US when I had this much time to really just TALK with my friends. In person. The time I’ve had recently with my American and Albanian friend is wonderful and rare and makes me not mind the down time at all. Just another way the Peace Corps is a social experiment….and a mirror that reflects our selves on a second life pattern – one far from the stresses of the US lifestyle.
As I’m swiftly reaching my three-months-left milestone I don’t know if I am ready for life to speed up again.