This will be the last post on Two Vagabonds in Albania, a thoroughly enjoyable book and great insight into life in Albania almost 100 years ago.
“Banishment to Gjinokaster ( Gjirokaster) is as awful a punishment for a northerner as banishment to Kruja in the north is a fate dreaded by the southerner. The average traveller returns charmed by the readiness of Albanian hospitality to foreigners, but one must not overlook the fact that Albanians themselves who will travel cheerfully to America, dislike intensely being transferred to other parts of their own land.”
“I do not think that there can be any other town in the world quite like Gjinokastra ( Gjirokaster). It has parts of the element of a fairyland…
Gjirokaster is the birth place of Enver Hoxha. I have never visited it, but I am told it is a beautiful town.
Page 60 –
“ From creepies and crawlies and lang-leggity basties(beasties) and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us,” says the old Scotch ( Surely Scots or Scottish please!!! – Scotch is a drink!)petition.
Well don’t sleep at Kjuks (Kukes), because there He won’t – not from any of ‘em!”
Malesia e Madhe
The conversation turned to family affairs and our host with a laugh pointed to the first lad.
“Manners are degenerating,” he said. “See, there is my son. He is seventeen, his wife is seventeen also, and, will you believe me, he doesn’t beat her? He’s getting soft. Aha! The good old times are going.”
The other lad had a stool near the fire and at once fell into conversation with the women. This surprised us, for hitherto in Albania we had seen no man who considered it worth his while to exchange any unnecessary words with the womenfolk. However, looking closer, we began to doubt the sex of this person, and the hairdresser confirmed our suspicion.
“That girl,” he said, “has vowed never to marry, so she dresses like a man, and does man’s work.”
“But if she breaks her vow,” we said” does her family pursue her and kill her?”
“She doesn’t ever break her vow,” said the hairdresser; “she would be too ashamed to.”
My wife had a relation, cousin of an aunt or something like that, who was the 7th daughter in a family. (if I remember correctly) there were no sons, and she dressed like a man. She attended (uninvited) our wedding and ended up drinking everyone under the table and dancing on the tables. She drank and smoked as much as anyone I have ever known, and was far more of a man than some men I know!
However, she was not a sworn virgin - she apparantely just liked dressing that way! 8-|
“cigarette papers and salt are the two things most lacking in these regions. On their ride the English police officers had encountered a woman who was making a two and a half day’s journey down to Scutari (Shkoder) solely in order to sell a dozen eggs with which to purchase sixpennyworth of salt.”
and finally....a comment on religion...
“Religions in Albania can be fundamentally political rather than spiritual; the pushing commercial Christian detests the dominance of the more valiant though more conservative Moslem. Indeed, the Albanian might be held up as an example to the world of religious tolerance were it not so largely the result of religious indifference. Undoubtedly, the Albanian Christian owes what fervour he has as much to a spirit of opposition against the Moslem as to any real devotional impulse.”
Hmmm...let me see...I don't quite understand the reasoning here.
The Albanian Christian is indifferent or fervent? Surely he cannot be both. He seems to "detest" or have a "hatred" of muslim people rather than a "hatred" of their belief(Islam)! Yet this is the only reference in over 300 pages to this "problem" and is not backed up with any example or further information!
Maybe they were going to write about it in another book that was never published!!
Please see here for more information on Jan and Cora Gordon.