Operation Kosovo
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Daily Trip Report - July 18, 2003

Jill Wechsler -

Today I arrived in Pristina at 1:10 or so. Arben and Nicole picked me up, and we drove right out to the home of Arben's family in a village outside Ferizaj.

I'm actually fairly impressed with the condition of many of the roads we traveled on. Though I'm told that there is only one small stretch of road in Kosovo that is 4 lanes, the major 2 lane roads seem to be paved reasonably well. There are a LOT of partially completed buildings, all made out of large red bricks. Some of the buildings look like they will eventually be large homes in modern styles. We also a cute fake McDonalds in Ferizaj, golden arches and all. To reach Arben's village, we did have to travel on a gravel road up into the mountains - he says that this road is a major reason that people choose to live in the city because they could not use this road to get to work in the winter.

When we reached Arben's village, we were greeted with great hospitality. There was lots of food, from salad with home-made cheese to peppers stuffed with meat. We were also served a traditional Albanian food similar to a very large layered pancake, with honey straight from the bee hives in the yard. Look forward to the pictures from that! After the food, Arben's family (immediate family and uncles, cousins, etc.) took us for a walk into the hills. We split into several groups, and I walked with two college-aged young women and several smaller children. Merita, the older of the two sisters, speaks very good English. She told me about when the family walked the very same way to escape to Macedonia when they were driven out of their home. When they returned, the home was burned... Now they have rebuilt it, but they don't really live there any more. Now they live in the city and visit the village occasionally. It seems that this generation of the family is the bridge between traditional village life and modern city life. Merita talked a lot about growing up in the village, but she now works in the city for emergency services and does not plan to live in the village again.

When we returned to Pristina, I got settled in at Valza's house and went to bed early (jet lag!)

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