Well it's that time of year again where everyone is scrambling around town to get wood for the winter. Last year I waited until November to get it which was way too late and I'm lucky I even got it when I did. This year I started asking about it earlier. I was walking home one day and saw my neighbor unloading his winter ration and just asked him where he bought it and if I could get only one meter from his supplier. He was happy to help but his trailer was broken so he told me he'd call me once he fixed it.
A week went by and although he wanted to have coffee everyday he wasn't ready to go get any wood. Sunday he called me at 8:00am wanting to have a coffee and when I told him I was still in the bed he told me I was lazy. I began to doubt that I would actually even get wood from him and began thinking about exploring other options. Finally, yesterday I saw him in town and he was ready to go! I showed up at the agreed time at his house and interrupted his nap which was great because I got to return the "you're lazy" joke to him which he thought was hilarious.
We take about a 45 minute drive out to a village. Along the way we stop to see where his dad lives. Once we're in the middle of nowhere the road ends up going three different directions, we take the unpaved road. About 20 minutes later the road ends and we're at the house where my wood is. The nicest family lives there, older woman, her son and his wife. Completely sustainable farm full of home grown vegetables, 4 cows for milk, one baby cow to be butchered, homemade cheese, yogurt, firewood (of course), grape juice, raki.. well you get the picture.
We hung out on the steps of their home for a few hours, drinking grape juice, eating fresh walnuts and making jokes. The grandmother tried to marry me off to her other boy of course but I just enjoyed the constant hugging and grabbing, politely saying "God willing!" We talked about how this life was better than America because everything in America is "shpjet shpjet" or "quickly" and how here the life style is "avash avash" or "slowly."
Once our visit was over and I left their home with a bag full of walnuts, hand knitted house shoes and a bag of fresh cheese we went and loaded the car with my wood. On the way home we stopped and had some "lemon juice" which was really lemon soda and my neighbor told me this, wise Albanian proverb: "Before a woman gets married she is fat with muscles. When she marries she is very elegant because her and her husband share the house work." Now in my experience this isn't really true in a lot of Albanian households but it's nice in theory. Once I returned home I started to have flashbacks of last year..carrying up my wood, three flights of stairs. 17 trips. This year it took me 9, Eric did three, so we cut down our work load by 5 trips this year! Must be getting stronger because we live alone and don't split the work.