Fall is by far my favorite season. In America it represents all of my favorite things. Beautiful weather, leaves changing, the best time of year to run outside, pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters. In Albania, the weather has finally succumbed to a happy medium balance. It is enjoyable to be outside. It has cooled down enough to cook in my apartment. With the help of care packages, I have even been able to make some comfort food from home. A happy stomach makes for a happy Amber.
Permet has held a few festivals throughout the summer and fall. Some are more successful than others. This past month they held a music festival that brought people in from Greece and the Gjirokaster region. There was traditional dress, singing and of course; circle dancing.
The lack of insulation and cement buildings make for some chilly nights. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT complaining…yet. So far, I am content throwing on a few more layers at night. However, it has seemed to attract more and more spiders into my apartment. Creepy crawly things generally don’t bother me BUT I don’t enjoy living with them. I have to go around every few days and kill the spiders lurking in literally every corner of my apartment. They’re harmless and small for the most part. Except for the little scorpion I found hanging from a spider web in my kitchen corner. Spider: 1, Scorpion: 0. Or this big, long-legged, gross spider close to my bedroom door. NOT okay!
There have been a few hurdles to jump that have to do with my apartment. Mostly this has to do with things breaking and me trying to communicate that with my landlord. Much easier said than done. There are people that I have a much easier time understanding in shqip than others. My coworkers are the people who I understand the best because I spend the most time with them. My landlord and her son fall at the opposite end of that list. For some reason, there is mass confusion whenever I go to her cafe. Another person that is extremely difficult for me to understand is the lady working at the water bill office. She talks way too fast about things that I don’t really understand in the first place. Paying bills here is, in short, way different from the US. When we moved in we each received a booklet for our different utilities that we would be in charge of.
The bills for my water, electricity and internet are slipped under my door each month. After I get the bill then I go to the respective offices to pay. They stamp the booklet and keep the receipt that I paid. Not the most effective system but easy enough.
The lady at the water bill office came across a few unpaid bills for my apartment this month. By a few, I mean over a years worth of bills that had never been paid by my landlord. I tried to tell her that I did not live here before June, much less all of last year. She responded by telling me that she could make a payment plan for me so I could pay it off slowly. Thanks but no thanks, I can’t afford to pay someone else’s bills when I am living on a volunteer budget. After a few unsuccessful attempts at explaining this to her I went to my site-mate for help. She knew an Albanian that was fluent in shqip and english that we explained my dilemma to. She came to the office with me and was able to get a bill written out for my landlord. Obstacle one taken care of. Now to take the bill to my landlord and explain why I am not paying it. I handled this on my own, and it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. It was a roundabout conversation in which they basically told me to ignore the water company and just pay my last bill. They will forget about it, the bills are old. Who pays old bills?! Only silly Americans. We finally came to an “agreement” that i would pay less rent this month and take care of the bill. If you hadn’t guessed, bills tend to go unpaid a lot here. I returned to the water office, paid the bill, and walked away feeling extremely grateful that was over. What did I do today? I paid my water bill and it felt awesome. Now you can see why, it was quite the accomplishment.
As the weather cools down I am spending more time in my apartment. This has given me time to decorate and make my place feel a little more like home.
Fall brings many things that I usually look forward to. This year a few of them are the same; great weather, beautiful scenery, sweaters and pumpkins. There are a few things that have changed. I have found a new favorite fruit called persimmons. If you haven’t tried them, you should. They’re delicious. Great finds at the gabby have started to give an “ugly sweater party” a whole new meaning. Furgon rides are starting to smell a lot better because it’s not roasting outside. I am looking forward to the end of my water schedule. Water 24/7 for all of winter, exciting! Albania or America; Fall continues to be my favorite season!