Cycling out of Prizren took a while, but I then decided to take a short cut through a couple of villages, which were in fact not such a short cut as the second village was ‘up’ in the steepest sense possible. However I met a large group of noisy children, keen to go through my bags and get an impromptu English lesson – ‘whassat?’, ‘whassat?’ and fall about laughing. I also met a lovely family – who fetched their 22yr old son who spoke English, so I could be interrogated again.
Of course, they wanted to know what I thought of Kosovo. How can one explain that the vast majority of people don’t think of much beyond their daily lives, unless it’s brought under their nose by a crisis like the Syrian refugees? Of course I had heard of Kosovo – through reports of the war in the early 90s and its birth in the not so distant past. I said I thought the people were really friendly, welcoming, generous and the scenery stunning (if one ignores the rubbish). Probably not what they wanted to hear. The son works hard in Prishtine - he tells me he gets criticized by his family for not wanting to see them enough, and accused of not caring. He says they don’t understand that he is working all the hours. He tells me this because I am transient and moving on and because he can. I got the sense (from non verbal cues, before the son arrived) that the Dad was actually incredibly proud of his English speaking and hard working son, but there you go.
I get lost trying to escape from the village, until I am directed down a dirt track by a different crowd of kids, one that leads me around a hair pin bend and back up the other side of the mountain to rejoin the main road I should have been on. Nature puts on an amazing lightening display above Prizren to entertain me as I push my bicycle up and up. (Little do I know that this same storm is wreaking havoc in Macedonia and at least 21 people will die in the resulting floods in and around Skopje and Tevoro). I accept a lift from Naser who takes me back to meet his family and stay the night in a small village called Blaq – back along a bit from where I was.
Naser is a headmaster – he shows me videos of the school band playing traditional music – they’re good! He lives with his 92 yr old recently widowed mother, his wife, several children (I didn’t see them all, and couldn’t keep track of all the people who came in and out of the house). Ariana, his oldest daughter lives there with her husband. They summon Danny to translate – Naser’s brother – who is home visiting his family from Manchester where he is a coach driver. Ariana is a midwifery student working in the local hospital – I established that there is no such thing as a home birth – but not much else, as Danny is a bit coy about such things. Danny translates for us all, though much of the conversation goes over my head. I get fed a meaty stew (and swallow the fatty bits quickly) and get to sleep in another comfortable bed! I guess I could have been kidnapped! Danny and Ariana both ‘friend’ me on Facebook.