First it was school, then a kidnapping. On Thursday I was strongly urged to attend a 70th birthday party for the school where my host son, Faton teaches. Haxhbi was going and I could ride with him. We went out to Rasçhe and spent almost two hours sitting in the sun. The director of the school had a rather long welcome speech which he delivered in both Albanian and Macedonian. Then the dancing and recitations began. And while very entertaining, the sun was beginning to drain me. I felt I was on the verge of getting sick when a teacher from Faton’s school rescued me and Bukurie. They took us inside and pumped us full of water and then urged us to eat goodies which included baklava! Oh, oh! You’ve twisted my arm! Festivities are done. Now the kids are just dancing. Back we come–Haxhbi drops me off at the house and he continues on to school. I still was not feeling up to peak so I took a nap after having a coffee.
Friday morning found me sitting at my computer dealing with emails and updating my calendar. Nazifete came in and wanted to know why I wasn’t going to school. I don’t have class until 10.30. No, no. School will be over by then. Huh? Yes, today is patron’s day. The Kombie will be here in ten minutes. You must get ready. So 8 AM I’m off to school. Once I arrived, I had nothing to do. My counterpart wasn’t there and the other teachers were frantically trying to get all of their paperwork done for the inspectors who are coming next week. So why am I here? All the kids are outside. Suddenly they start setting up the benches in rows in front of the outdoor stage. And why do those little boys have on red bow ties. And the little girls are all dressed up in lace outfits. Ah, now it is clear. We are having a show of some kind. More dancing and recitations. Fortunately the sun was not as brutal yesterday. At 10:00 school was dismissed and I came home. I decided to make a quick run into Skopje and pick up some paper and Raid Plug-ins. Got home, re-wrote my assessment for a grant we are planning to submit to get a smart board and submitted it. Okay. Good productive day.
Ah, but it isn’t over. We went to mysafir with Nazifete’s brother and family who are in town from Switzerland. We had juice, coffee, tea, candy, cookies, nuts and fresh strawberries. That is pretty typical hospitality in this country when you come to visit. At one point my hand collapsed and I spilled my tea all over my leg. Fortunately it had a bit of a chance to cool before I pulled my Grace Kelly act. No blisters but it also wasn’t fun. But I left with a little gift, a bouquet of flowers and bone crushing hugs.
A cultural aspect that will never be adopted in the US is the concept of the Nuse. The nuse (noos-ee) is the bride of the eldest son who, following the wedding, has moved in to live in his home with his family. It is fairly rare in an Albanian family for the children to move into their own home when they marry. The bride is brought into the house and literally becomes the servant of the household. She makes the coffee and serves it, she makes the tea and serves it, she does the dishes, she cleans the house. Someday she will no longer be the nuse but rather the mistress of the house but that could be a long way off. I am rarely permitted to get my own tea or take my cup to the kitchen if she is around. She does it sweetly and graciously. I can’t help but think how my daughter and daughters – in – law would react to this kind of arrangement. Knowing them the way I do, they would be very unhappy not having charge of their own households.
Now for a lovely long three day weekend. Monday is Sveti Cyril & Sveti Metodi day. (the dudes who came up with an alphabet we call the Cyrillic alphabet) and so we finally match up a holiday to and American one. I have plenty to do but one day is going to be devoted to pursuits I enjoy–listening to music, sorting stamps and maybe watching a movie.