Sunday, December 14, 2008


I’d like to start this blog entry with a quick disclaimer. As previously noted, this blog is written by me and is in no way connected to the American government or the Peace Corps. All the opinions within are mine and not representative of any government, or whatever. I tend to forget that I’m posting my ideas and experiences to the whole world. As, well, that’s how the internet works. This blog is meant to be a way for my friends and family to easily read about my experiences in Albania and wherever else I may be. By putting it up on the internet, I of course, open up my ideas and experiences to a wider audience. I really have no idea why anyone who doesn’t know me would be interested in my reasonably mundane musings on life abroad. (Lets be frank, I don’t think even most of the people who know me would be particularly interested, as my life isn’t particularly interesting and my writing isn’t particularly thoughtful or worthwhile.) But, it has become apparent that the people who this is meant for aren’t the only ones reading.

So, quick note to those not familiar with me or the Peace Corps…politics on the local, national and international level are not something I care to discuss or am really even at liberty to discuss, especially on this forum. Let’s leave it at that…and without further ado:

In my continuing effort to keep this blog up-to-date, here’s well, an update. I’m finally back home in Ksamil. Its really nice to finally be back home. Its rainy here. And by rainy, I mean its monsooning. On Tuesdays, I go to school late, which is usually really nice. Since it was raining…raining hard outside and the power was out, I decided to sleep in. Of course my landlord happened to be in town and dropped by to give me a heater. He always tends to drop by when I’m trying to sleep in…so, again, I answered the door in my pajamas. I think he’s beginning to think all I do is sleep. This, I promise, isn’t all I do.

When I finally did decide to get up and face the rain, I navigated a veritable rushing river on my way to school. I got caught on a mid-road island of rock and needed to be rescued by a gjysha (the Albanian equivalent to grandmother…or just general old lady) herding cows. I wish I wasn’t late for school and could have taken some pictures. The water was intense. This was a very Peace Corps moment. Most of the time, I tend to forget that I’m making any sacrifices. In comparison to Georgia, Albania is pretty ‘posh.’ I have my own apartment, a real flush toilet, electricity most of the time, I shower inside and I can cook my own food. This morning, when I was stuck in my road/river, fresh from no shower because the power was out, I remembered…I am indeed in the Peace Corps and Albania does, indeed, have its challenges…as mundane as they may be in comparison.

There was so much rain that school was cancelled mid-day. I, being from Seattle, kind of find the cancelling of school for rain to be odd…but I can’t say I wasn’t relieved. Since school was cancelled early, I had time to go into Saranda to drop by the bank (yay, I finally have an ATM card!!) and the post office. Despite the bad weather, nothing was going to keep me away from the packages I knew I had waiting at the post office. Seriously, packages are worth their weight in gold. Let me repeat. PACKAGES ARE THE BEST THINGS EVER INVENTED AND I LOVE THEM AND THEIR SENDERS WITH ALL MY HEART. Chris sent me like 5 pairs of shoes from my storage unit in Chicago and some spice packets. Presents like these, by the way, if I haven’t made this clear, are always welcome. I also received a card from Alyssa, filled with the traditional and much appreciated newspaper clippings.

So good news, my address does work.
Its simply:
Meghan Dean
Ksamil, Sarande, Albania

I don’t think you need the Sarande part, so that’s up to your discretion, but it can’t hurt. I think you could probably just put “American, Ksamil” on the package and it would get to me. I’m meeting with one of the program directors this week to perhaps do a little bit of site development in Saranda. I’m praying for an almost-site-mate there. It would make my life so much easier. They haven’t put a TEFL volunteer in Saranda since 1997, when the Volunteer there had to escape via Ferry to Corfu when the country erupted into civil war. His escape is profiled in the History Channel series “Getting out Alive.” If you have a chance to see it, its pretty scary. Well, not for you, warm in your first world home, but for me, after the whole Georgia incident and the such. I watched about a week after I arrived down here, alone in my apartment and I kind of freaked out for a little bit. No, but seriously, Albania is stable and I’m totally safe.

In any event, I would be a lot happier if there were a volunteer in Saranda. Since I have to go to Saranda to get anywhere (its where all the busses are) or do anything (Ksamil is super small, I’m the only Volunteer in Albania without even a bank in my town) it would just make things easier and would mean that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting back to Saranda by 4:30 to catch the last bus to Ksamil. So, go ahead and cross your fingers for me.

I guess that’s it for now. I’m off again next week for Group 11 In Service Training. It’s a little bit silly, since I’ve only been “in service” for like two months, but the Georgians are now part of the Albanian Group 11 and they’ve been here since March. As excited as I always am to see everybody and be around English speakers, I kind of have a lot of work to do here and I think my kids miss me when I’m gone, oh, and 8 hours on a bus isn’t fun. My counterpart is getting more and more pregnant by the day, too, and I like to take as much of the teaching load off her as I can. But, alas, staying in a nice hotel with friends shouldn’t be something I’ve come to dread…oh, wait…there was that month in Armenia…
Oh, and here are a few pictures:

Here is Ksamil from a hill to the south

On the coast facing north, towards Saranda