Interrail day eighteen – Lushnjë again

15 May

Another day in a small, quiet town. I hope this isn’t too boring for you. After the excitement of the UK almost winning Eurovision, maybe we need something a little quiet!

I took far too long getting ready, trying the various outfits and shoes available to me here after the limitations of my backpack, then I headed out to my old church. More strange looks, but it is definitely too warm for jeans, whatever everyone here thinks. I had to contend with the traffic near the house, because Sunday seems to be market day and some of the roads were closed. Although here, as in Greece, zebra crossings are just suggestions, at least the cars go much, much slower within city limits, so there’s not much danger.

I saw this statue in the town centre, which is new since I was last here. She is Vaçe Zela, a singer from Lushnjë who was big in communist times.

There weren’t many people at church, but there were still people who knew me. It’s a little bit discombobulating that I have been coming to this church for twenty years now. There was a grown man there today (Reuben) with two small children of his own, and I remember him as a blonde-haired child at the church’s ten-year anniversary, visiting from Germany with his father, Jurgen, who had helped to found the church. My name is still up on the wall; we each wrote our name on a brick, with the year we started coming, to symbolise being living stones that make up the church.

The antibiotics have been working their magic and I didn’t cough all through the sermon – hooray! I went out for coffee after the service with Andi, who used to be the pastor before he moved, and a couple of other guys from church, as all the women were in a women’s meeting. We went to the Metropol, which is the newish shopping centre, so modern and trendy that they don’t bring you water with your coffee, you have to buy it 🤨 But then, they do have technology that we haven’t achieved in the west yet…

All we can manage is a puny 3D.

For some reason the same presenter was on TV all afternoon and evening today – Ardit Gjebreja. I hoped he was getting overtime, but I’m told that he is the second highest paid presenter in Albania, so he’s probably doing OK.

We went out for a wee visit to Dafina’s tenants downstairs (Ardit was still on the TV in their flat), and there was all the formal toasting that I find awkward because I don’t know what to say. I just smile and pretend I’m the quiet type. Then we went out to the park where Dafina always spends the evenings with her friend Donika and the other ladies from the neighbourhood. It’s not much of a park but it has a few benches, one of which is in a decent state, and that, with each other’s company, its all they need to pass the time.

Dafina and Donika

Everyone is congratulating Dafina on having her daughter-in-law to visit, which is bittersweet for her as I’m leaving tomorrow. She has concocted some sort of story about my being part of an organised excursion and meeting up again with the rest of the group tomorrow, so presumably solo backpacking is not an acceptable activity for a daughter-in-law 😂 But I know she appreciated my visit, however unorthodox.

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