I'm settled with my family in an Albanian community call Cherkeze, or Cherke in Albanian. I moved in with them on my birthday, and that night they surprised me with a birthday party. They brought cake, presents and even a bottle of champagne. In Cherkeze, everyone visits everyone all the time, so several relatives of Enver's. my 'Dad', came over to celebrate with me. It's challenging - right now I know almost no Albanian and they know no English. We managed to communicate a little through French and sign language, and occasionally some Albanian. Oh, I should have taken that second semester of French during the summer! Many of the men over 40 speak a European language because they worked somewhere in Europe while this was part of Yugoslavia and they could travel freely throughout Europe and work. When Yugoslavia broke apart and they became Macedonia, that ability was lost, so the younger generations haven't had that opportunity because it's challenging to get a visa. But next year that changes.
Anyway, my family consists of Enver, the Bapi, Sahadet, the Mami, 4 daughters, Vanessa, Hadigja, Helelinda, Suala, and 1 son, Isa. (My spellings are probably not correct - I need to find out how to do it correctly.) Enver and Sahadet have given up their room for me, so I am quite comfortable. Everyone here is very friendly - we greet with miredita and kisses on the right cheek, left, and right again. They are working hard to teach me Albanian, but most of it goes in one ear for now and out the other. Tomorrow we start our formal training - 20 hours of language lessons a week, 8 of Macedonian and 12 of Albanian. Our training lasts until Thanksgiving, when all the PC volunteers gather in Skopje for Thanksgiving dinner and our swearing in. The next day we move to our own apartments where we'll live for the next 24 months.
I also moved in during Ramadan, and today is Bajram, celebrating the end of Ramadan and fasting. When my family fasted, they would eat at 3:30 in the morning and then again at sunset. Sahadet would prepare the meal and put it on the table, and we'd wait until the prayer call signalling sunset, and everyone would dig in! Bajram is a joyful feast - we spent the morning going around to all the relatives houses and eating and drinking sok (soda) and turkish coffee and eating. The children wander around town collecting candy much like Halloween. Several of Enver and Sahadet's family are still out of Macedonia, but everyone calls each other to talk and say something that sounds like Exhosht Bajram. There are 6 of us in Cherkeze. Everyone else is in Tefl (Teaching English as a foreign language), and I'm the only one in community development.
When I move into my own place I won't need to use an internet cafe, and will be able to send you pictures. All the houses are surrounded by walls and gates, so when you go through the village you might feel closed out, but the villagers all know each other and homes are open. I'm well, learning a lot, and am well taken care of. The food is fabulous, and I always have to say Yam i gnite - I am full. Miss everyone, but it is such an adventure. Wish you all could be here with me!