Many days pass by without anything significant occurring. After almost two years in my site, I can honestly say I have acquired a normal routine. Even the strange “Only in Albania” moments no longer phase me. Now I know when the town crazy starts to yell AMERICA at me, I should just ignore him and he will eventually walk away. Or when my favorite veggie man hounds me as to why I haven’t been around in three days. It’s not creepy, he is genuinely interested in why he hasn’t seen me. Or when there is a knock at my door and a shy boy sweetly asks for help with his English homework. Or when six neighborhood girls show up, grins spilled across their faces and “AMBER” spewing from their lips. Followed by me taking pictures with each individual and promising to post them on Facebook. Obviously. Because it’s just another day in the life of an American living in Albania.
Permet is burrowed between two mountain ranges. The mountain tops are covered with snow from November to April. Beautiful to look at, but rarely does it get cold enough to actually blanket the city. The other week we had an exciting turn of events. There was SNOW in my city! As I walked outside, residents of my neighborhood seemed a bit confused about how to handle the strange weather. Umbrellas were brought out for those brave enough to walk around. Others just stood under awnings and gossiped. I strode through the city center, grinning and feeling right at home. Later on, I bundled up and set out for my daily run. Not five minutes out the door, I was ambushed by a group of little boys, their arms loaded with snowballs. Now that is one way to add excitement and speed to my workout!
When I was younger, I used to spend hours at the library. I would scour through the stacks and stacks of books, continually finding new favorites. Eventually walking home with my arms loaded with that weeks chosen items. I had never thought about that as luxury, not available to everyone. Until I came to Albania. There is a library in my city but it is hardly ever open. On top of that, the books are so old and lackluster that it would take an avid reader next to no time to get through them. When a young girl in my Youth Council mentioned how much she loves to read, it struck a chord with me. I quickly arranged with a neighboring volunteer to borrow books from their library each month. When I told the girl at our next meeting, she was visibly touched. As she thanked me I could see tears in her eyes. All because of a few books. Something I completely took for granted growing up.
The past few weeks have been filled with seemingly insignificant events. However, those little moments hold more importance than I originally thought. I am realizing, those little things are actually the big things. And they form the memories I will look back on and remember with the most fondness.