The first year I taught at Albanian College I had an assistant named Edlira. She was a wonderful translator and assistant in the classroom but also she quickly became a friend. She was helpful as I tried to sort out some of the culture and traditions of her country. Edlira, her husband (Aldo), Randy and I have shared many meals and outings together. For the first time this year Edlira has been promoted to being a full teacher with a class of her own. Since Albanian College is an English immersion school she teaches in English and has her own teaching assistant. Last year Edlira and Aldo welcomed a precious little boy into their family.
We were honored to be invited to Aled’s first birthday celebration in early October. As has become the tradition in America, first birthdays have become bigger and bigger celebrations. However, Aled’s birthday took the first birthday celebration to a whole new level. Edlira has three brothers who are all married with children and live in Florence, Italy. They all traveled to Albania to celebrate as did Edlira’s parents who also live in Florence. Aldo’s married sister and three teenage sons all traveled from Greece to be part of Aled’s first birthday. Aldo’s parents and other relatives traveled from different parts of Albania too. Aled is a well loved little boy!
We loved being part of Aled’s birthday party and meeting so many extended family members. It was an honor to be included!
The following weekend a group of teachers went to the Albanian Alps to a small village called Theth. If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that Theth is my favorite palace to visit in Albania. The mountains are stunning and breathing all the fresh, outdoor air is a wonderful change of pace.
The next day we hiked to Grunas Waterfall. We passed a small working farm with a stone house and barn. There was even a coffee shop halfway up the hill to the falls. Two friends are modeling traditional Albanian headwear.
The following week was our nine day October Break. Randy and I rented a car in Albania and headed to southern Italy.
One of the many parts of Italy that I love is all the small and large churches that we randomly come across as we visit various cities.
After getting off the ferry we drove three hours to Naples where we stayed for two nights. The only reason we stayed in Naples was because of its close proximity to Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. I have loved everywhere we have gone in Italy but Naples is the exception. Someone used the term “gritty” to describe Naples and I think that would be accurate. The city has not yet figured out how to deal with their trash. It was common to see overflowing trash cans, empty beer bottles and unkept streets. Naples is not a city that I would want to return to. That being said, there were aspects of the city we enjoyed.
In 79AD Mount Vesuvius erupted. The rocks and ash from the explosion rained down on Pompeii for almost a full day. Pompeii was a city of 20,000 people. Most people fled the city but there were 2,000 that stayed behind and perished. The 79AD explosion was the most severe. The volcano most recently erupted in 1944 and is expected to erupt again.
Our next stop was Pompeii which was fabulous! If you get the opportunity to visit then you need to go for it. I never realized how big Pompeii is. The city was buried until sometime in the 1700’s when a farmer was trying to dig a well and was unable to because he just kept coming across lots of ash instead of water. Since that time the location has been an active archeological site.
The beautiful city of Amalfi…
Visiting the Villa Cimbrone Gardens in Ravello was cathartic and breathtaking.
These are some pictures from our hotel including the deck off our room and the charming place where we ate breakfast each morning.
That is my update for now. Randy is currently back in the States enjoying some deer hunting. I am in the midst of writing extensive reports about each of my students since the end of term one is approaching. I am flying home on December 16th to celebrate the holidays with the whole family. I cannot wait!!! As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you skimmed through lots of it since it is soooooo long this time. Not sure if I will make another post before the holidays so I am wishing you all the best over the upcoming holiday season.