Several months ago when I was looking at my last month and a half I envisioned myself traveling every weekend to enjoy the maximum amount of the country and go to parts I have never been to, but I find myself in my city, Tetovo, every weekend because there are so many things to fill my days. I find myself drawn to the amazing people I have lived and worked with for the past two years. This last weekend I went to another wedding. This wedding was of my best Albanian guy friend’s best friend. His family brought Bonnie (one of my sitemates) and I to the wedding. We had a blast and enjoyed all the glamor and dancing. The groom was smiling ear to ear the whole night. This made me smile from ear to ear as well. His happiness was contagious and there were moments I felt like was I back in America with that smile. The Kasami family was extremely inviting.
This was outside of the wedding before we went in. left to right: Shemsije, Bonnie, me, and Selma. These are both of Emir’s sisters (my best Albanian guy friend). They looked stunning; I know.
Here’s another photo outside of the wedding building. left to right: Emir, me, Shemsije, and Bonnie. They are soo good looking and I guess I clean up well.
This wedding was very similar to the last I went to, but I didn’t go to the three previous days. It was wonderful to see everyone dancing and happy about it. I also loved the American company and spending time with this amazing family.
Here is another photo inside the wedding with drinks and salad. left to right me, Bonnie, the GROOM, Emir’s father, and Emir.
My heart sings every time I am included in one of these amazing celebrations. They are such giving and open people with weddings and I get so see everyone at their celebration’s best. I will miss Albanian weddings and hopefully soon will attend friends’ weddings back home so I can compare American traditions with Albanian traditions. Thank you again Kasami family for bringing us to a beautiful celebration.
In addition to this wedding, this week I helped the Alili family (the one I went with to the four day wedding celebration) make ajvar which is the traditional pepper spread everyone makes here every fall.
Antigona’s mother and aunt were absolutely amazing as always. I came to the house at sharply 9am and helped for several hours before I needed to run to school.
So the process of making ajvar is a two day process. The first step is to roast the peppers over a fire or grill. These peppers below were roasted and now they are in plastic bags to cool down.
These are tomatoes that will be added to the spread. Other additions are eggplant, garlic, zucchini, and spicy peppers.
After the peppers are roasted and cooled-down the peppers are peeled of their skin so that the skin doesn’t get cooked (that tends to ruin the texture). Then the peppers go through a meat grinder, that’s right these peppers are treated as ground beef. Below is beautiful Bonnie using the meat grinder.
This is a lot of work to crank out the peppers but the texture and consistency is a lot better once they go through this meat grinder.
These are the peppers that have been peeled of their skin and ready to go through the meat grinder.
Here are two action shots of me thanks to the wonderful photographer Bonnie.
These peppers need to be pushed through the meat grinder, but be careful not to get your fingers stuck. We did about 30 kilos of peppers (when they were purchased and before roasted and peeled) through the meat grinder. We were apparently very efficient.
After we made this pepper spread dish, we were invited back to the Alili’s house that night to enjoy the fresh ajvar with bread, cheese, and olives. It was wonderful to enjoy this fresh pepper spread with these amazing women.
This week I also visited my first house family’s uncle’s house for dinner. I found myself laughing and content with where my language is at and just enjoying all their company. I will mess the time to have meals with other people on any given day.
My first host brother in Pallchisht just left for Vienna. Him and I went out dancing until 2:30am in the morning. We always have a blast together. He is studying to become an architect. I hope one day he will come with me and design a house for me.
Cheers to the end of my service and to many more amazing moments to come for my last 5 weeks in this country. This will forever be my second home!