e shtunë, shtator 27, 2008

Albania - The Foundling State of Europe#3

The women of the mountain tribes were sturdy and powerful and often beautiful as children, but the hard, rough, life they led destroyed all their good looks as soon as they arrived at womanhood. In Albania and Montenegro woman was the beast of burden of the poorer families; she did the household drudgery of the hut, and all but the very roughest work in the field while her husband or brother sat upon a stone with his rifle between his knees and a cigarette between his lips.when the fruits of the little farm were taken to the bazaar, the husband stalked ahead while the old horse limped along behind him with bursting saddle bags, urged on by the women of the family, whose backs bent double under a towering load of firewood.
Page 41,42

The blood-feuds which used to be so common in Scodra and the mountains were gradually dying out, for the authorities and the priests had set their faces against the practice for many years past. But the factors which had the greatest influence in putting down the practice were the poverty from which Albania had suffered for years and the enforcing of the edict against carrying arms in the city.
Page 49

Well, not entirely dying out.
Unfortunately there are many families still involved in blood feuds today, almost 100 years later!

To the casual observer the Albanians seemed to be always rebelling and fighting for no reason whatever. But it must not be forgotten that they were never really conquered by the Turks and that in the mountains they did very much as they liked.
But the Turk, the latest intruder in Albania has now gone from the land, and the city of Scodra will return to the position it occupied nearly three thousand years ago when it was chief town of the Illyrian tribes under their native kings. Many conquerors have passed over it, but the stubborn race which is now known as Albanian has survived them all. It now only remains for the people of Scodra to justify the trust which Europe has reposed in them as leaders of the new kingdom, and if the doggedness, independence and the vital force which can live through all vicissitudes of fortune, count for anything in modern Europe, they should not be found wanting.
Page 51

In the summer it was the custom of the European colony to postpone the afternoon walk until the late afternoon when the tall trees began to throw a pleasant shade, and a gentle breeze usually cooled the heated atmosphere. When the wide-eaved houses shadowed the width of the streets. Scodra gradually roused itself from its afternoon's doze. The day was almost unendurable indoors even with all the blinds drawn down on the sunny side of the house and with all the windows open, but at last the faint rustling of the leaves outside told that a little breeze had come to cool us, and that the hour for the evening promenade had arrived.
Pages 62,63

Not much has changed in the last 100 years then!

The book includes some strange stories of a dog recovering from a snake bite by applying a nearby plant on the wound and in its mouth.
A man that had a bath every day for 10 days then no more for a year !

Description of being served with coffee, cigarettes, a syrupy drink and sweetmeats which I take it were lakum. One man bit on one and got his teeth stuck and could not free them for a good 5 minutes.
Page 91

Yes, there is nothing worse than taking a piece of "lakum" during a visit and find that it is not fresh, and it is like someone has glued your teeth together.

We English are too given to thinking that all foreigners see us as we see ourselves; not merely as the inhabitants of two little islands...
Page 133

Hmmm...English are inhabitants of 2 islands. My geography was never any good, but I was sure that little island to the left of GREAT BRITAIN(on a map) was actually called Ireland, and was full of Irish people. I also thought that England was not an island as they border on 2 other countries, Wales and Scotland!

Blood feuds
Went to Shkrel and there spoke with a man who was in a blood feud having killed his brother-in-law from Hoti for sending his wife(this man's sister) away.
"and your sister? She in the city? Has she married again?"
"married? Oh no! She begs; she has her child---------- then seeing my look of astonishment he added; "what is she to do ? We cannot support her; she does not belong to us now; and the Hoti will not keep her.But I have avenged the insult ; I have shot her husband"
Page 136

"It is an extraordinarily difficult language for a foreigner to speak, and the Shkypetars claim that none but the native born can pronounce their queer consonantal sounds correctly. The difficulty of learning the language is increased by the want of a suitable alphabet. The Jesuits and Franciscans of Scodra use the Latin alphabet; in the South the Orthodox priests use Greek letters. But neither system is satisfactory, and consequently some grammarians have introduced diacritical marks or have mixed up the two sets of characters but probably with even less success, and it is a proof of the marvelous vitality of the language that it has survived through the ages without a literature, untaught and unwritten in the schools."
Page 199

"Extraordinarily difficult language" - got to agree on that one!
But then is there an easy language to learn?
Albanians do seem VERY gifted in foreign language, and I have met some Albanians that speak English perfectly with no hint of a foreign accent!
They put us "English" speakers to shame!
The Albanian alphabet - yes, a post in itself. It is remarkable how the language survived, even during the times of Turkish rule and the language forbidden to be taught in schools and no(or very little) reading material in Shqip! Full credit to those that worked to get the Albanian language recognised, in written form, and agreed by, for the whole country! (I'm glad they didn't choose the Greek or Arabic letters for the alphabet!)

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