I had a great afternoon yesterday… Robert went to a conference, the boys went to a birthday party~ all was quiet on the home front. We had no electricity so I took a nap! I have been staying up late and getting up early to work on laundry when the electricity is on! (READ about our Electricity Blues at journeytoalbania.com). When I woke up I was a little disoriented and thought it was 5:30… church starts at 5:00 and I was supposed to meet Robert and the boys there (it was really only 4:30)! I called our regular cab driver, Artur, to ask him to pick me up. Artur speaks a little bit of English and with our limited Albanian we are able to communicate with relative ease about where we would like to go. He also knows where our house is located which is very helpful. Most directions are given by “it’s near …. (fill in landmark of your choice)” rather than by street name or address. So with our limited vocabulary directions are a little complicated! Back to the story… Artur was not available! Agh… so I decided to walk fast (it takes about 20-25 minutes). When I got to the square, I saw the cabs lined up along the street and decided to try to communicate where I wanted to go with a new cab driver. MANY people speak English here (this continues to surprise me) so you never know. BUT… I was able to speak all in Shqip (Albanian) and tell the driver exactly where I wanted to go! Near the Radio- Television Station(Afer Radio-Televizor), straight (drejte), left (majtas), right (djathtas), and here (ketu)! I even was able to say I am slowly learning Albanian (Une po mesoj Shqip)! To which he responded “Albanian is difficult” and I understood!! VICTORY!
In the evening after church I had another funny experience with language. Robert was not feeling well after church ( a cold coming on) so I went to get pizza for dinner. On the way home I stopped in to the little shop near our house to pick up some Coke. The shopkeepers only speak Albanian. So I said good evening, how are you? They said well thank you and how are you? Then the woman was saying something about the boys and I thought she was asking how are they. I was trying to buy a 2 liter bottle of Coke but I wanted it cold so I was trying to ask for this. She repeated again something about the boys but I still did not understand. I thought she was trying to tell me that they did not have any 2 liters that were cold, but she repeated the word for “sons” again and put the Coke away. I was not understanding which I was able to tell her (Nuk kupotj- I don’t understand). Finally she said “okay” and put the coke in a bag for me and took my money. I said my new favorite sentence “Une po mesoj Shqip avash avash” (I am slowly learning Albanian). This one sentence make people very happy because it really shows our effort to learn their language. The man asked me something that I did not fully catch so I asked him to speak more slowly and repeat it. He smiled and did… he asked where do we work. (I really only understood one word- work- but that was enough). So I said my husband works at the Center for Christianity (what we call the AEP- Albanian Encouragement Project. This is where we pick up our get our mail). This is more well known than our church so it is a good place to start. And I still can not even say the name of our church. This made them happy (AND ME TOO) that I could say a complete sentence.
BEST PART: When I got home, I discovered that Robert had sent the boys to the store to pick up coke. Even they are learning enough words to communicate what we need. (And the store is less than 100 yards from our front door) So this is what she was trying to tell me! The boys had just been there and bought COKE! We all had a good laugh as I am sure the shopkeeper and his wife did too!