Monday, December 22, 2014

Mudslide...road closed

A small town near Tirana, Ibe, that I travel through to visit one of the orphanages in Elbasan has suffered a serious mudslide. Actually, there is new road construction in the area and either the entire road collapsed, or the mountain was not shored up. Either way the road is closed.  I forgot to mention, this is our "torrential rain season in Albania"..for December the rainfall average is ~6".

The interesting part about all of this are the options that are in place to travel to Elbasan.

  • The first option is to drive to the coast, and enter Elbasan through old, narrow highways from the east. It is 120km vs 45 maps says 1 hour 40 minutes...add several hours to that figure.
  • The second option is to take a small commuter van up to one side of the mudslide/debris...walk for about 5 minutes through the path that has been made, and get on another commuter van and continue to your destination.  I have a friend that was told..."this detour trip increased my prayer life."
  • The third not travel to Elbasan until the road is open...maybe sometime in January.  (the year was not specified).
Always an adventure....!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Miracle in Tirana....!

While I was in the US, I ordered some new long sleeve t-shirts to replace the 6 year old shirts I was using.  One color, a forrest/teal green, I splashed with grease...two huge spots right on the front.  I tried everything I could think get the stains out.  This shirt had become a favorite...and now I had ruined it even before getting back home to Tirana.  I decided to take the shirt with me...I could still wear it under a sweater or if I had a really messy job to was already stained. 

A friend from Portugal once told me that Fairy liquid dish soap gets every stain out.  Even if it left a white spot on my shirt...I had to try.

The stains are gone...completely. After 4-5 washings in the US with all the "best products"...the everyday dish soap, Fairy Liquid, did the job.

Now...I have my favorite shirt to wear again...!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

IKEA..."meatballs' in Greece

Many times since I have moved to the mission field, I have heard about the shopping adventure at IKEA.  I have owned some furniture from IKEA...that comes apart and goes back together easily for moving...which is the nature of life on the mission field.  The only problem was...the stores were not located in Kosova or Albania. Recently, I was driving back to Tirana, and stopped at a new IKEA store in Ioannina, Greece.

Wow, it is a huge collection of "everything" you could ever imagine, and have never thought of before for your home. (and a lot of things you really can live without!) There are arrows to direct you through the you have to experience and see every department...even if you are only looking for a few specific items.  I got lost a few times...the signs were in Greek, of course, but never felt like I would still be in the store come closing time.  IKEA workers were everywhere and very helpful.

Of course, before I went there, 2 different people on 2 different continents asked me about the IKEA meatballs.  I was looking for a down comforter and floor lamp...what are you talking about "meatballs?"  Some friends who frequent IKEA told me that the meatballs were in fact really sure to get the sauce and the jam with them.  WHAT....?

So...after I finished shopping, put my purchases in my car...I went back in the store to experience the "meatballs"...complete with sauce and jam.  They were really good, sorry no photos of me enjoying the food.  I did however purchase 2 bags of frozen meatballs, some packages of sauce and a jar of jam to have when I returned home in Tirana.  I plan to invite a friend who had never been to IKEA, and thought the "meatballs" were only an urban legend...over for dinner.

Now I can mark this off of my "bucket list"....who would have thought that really yummy meatballs were in the same store with really cool home furnishings...?!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Automobile visa required in Greece...???

I was traveling to Corfu, Greece today, when I was met with a new and interesting requirement for international travel.  There was not a "visa stamp in my passport for my car".  Being an American citizen I did not require a "visa" stamp for myself, just a stamp for my car from when I visited Greece back in October 2013.  I had the international car registration papers, international insurance papers with me...but did not have a stamp in my passport for my "car" from my previous visit.  I was able to prove that I entered and exited Greece in 2013, but did not have any documents for my car.  I had never heard of this before. 
After 45 minutes of discussion and trying to understand the situation, I provided my Albanian residency documents and my business card from ABC Health Center, and the border police finally allowed me to enter Greece.  
Yes, I now have a document for my car, and I will make certain that I obtain the correct stamp when I return to Albania in 8 days.  
Each time I cross an international border, I am not sure what to is always an adventure!
One more thing:  my car was thoroughly searched again today as I was leaving Albania...everything taken out, all panels inspected, all compartments, every nook and cranny...but the guard never opened my suitcase. I so can't figure this out...why I am pulled aside to have my car searched...and the BMW and Mercedes go right on through...???  Am I being "profiled...?"