Thursday, January 13, 2011

Settling In

I'm still working on the Christmas in Italy, Part 2 blog.  It will appear sometime soon but I thought you might be interested in just a few day to day things going on here.  Once I perfect getting photos onto the blog, I will do a little photo tour of Pristina so you can see what the city is like.

We live in the heart of downtown Pristina only three blocks from the Supreme Court where Charlie works (photo to follow sometime).  We live in a seven story building with no elevator so I am happy to say we live on the first floor. There is one apartment per floor. Our landlord, Fadil, lives next door in his own home with his family. Over here it is usual for extended families to live together in the same house with each family having one floor. That's what Fadil and his family are doing. I see all ages of people coming and going from every door!

The local school is right across the street. There are so many children here that they have to go to school in shifts. There is the morning crowd and the afternoon crowd so there's lots of traffic and lots of noise around here which I don't mind but which really bothers Sadie. (She is having a bit of difficulty adjusting to all the new sights, smells and sounds here. I know she misses the Frisk family, especially the dogs.)

Just a block away there is a nice grocery store. A couple of days ago I went in and just spent time strolling up and down the aisles seeing what they stock. Grocery shopping has been a real challenge living over here so this gave me a chance to become familiar with Kosovar products. Never underestimate the difficulty of not speaking or reading the local language! I discovered that they actually do have almost everything I would need I just had to look a bit. I felt pretty confident after awhile and brought home ingredients for braised beef short ribs which I prepared for dinner. (They came out great.) Charlie can shop at the US Army base about an hour from here. He stocks up on Oreos, real US bread, Old El Paso Mexican food, Campbell soup, etc there. I can't go onto the base. EULEX also has what is referred to as the "Blue PX" (don't ask me why) in town and they stock hard to find items, mostly Western European. I can't go into the Blue PX either. So Charlie does all the "special" shopping!

Things got much better for us yesterday when EULEX finally gave Charlie got a brand new car for his personal use. It's a Nissan Pathfinder - you have to have a 4-wheel drive here - roads are terrible. I'm not allowed to drive it nor can we take it out of the country but it is our car and will make life much easier. We can't park it at the apartment because EULEX requires a secure parking lot. That means a 24 hour guard and/or a locked gate neither of which we have here. So we will have to find a lot. There is one about 3 blocks away which will hopefully have space for us. We are looking to buy a car but haven't found the right deal yet. Then I would be able to drive and we could travel around in it.

Last weekend we went to Lake Ohrid, Macedonia (story and photos to follow) so this weekend we are going to stick around here. There is a beautiful park on the outskirts of the city - up in the mountains where the air is clean - where we will take Sadie for some exercise. She stays in a boarding kennel when we are gone and I know she misses us. She did have an infected foot last week and we found a really nice vet here. He took great care of her and her foot is healed.

So I am beginning to settle in here. We have what we need: a roof over our heads (no earthquake yet), electricity (that goes out only occasionally), water (that is shut off from midnight to six in the morning), food (I have mastered the Kosovo market!),  a car (I can't drive), and each other (me, Charlie and Sadie).  Now if I can only get the Christmas, Part 2 and the Lake Ohrid posts done...

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