Category Archives: Permet

The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 3, The Blue Eye and Gjirokaster

In Part 3 of our trip, we traveled from Saranda to Permet, stopping by the beautiful Blue Eye, charming Gjirokaster, and the Gryke of Kelcyre along the way!

Monday, July 30, 2018, 9:43pm

Morning at the Blue Eye

Our day began promptly at 8:00am with morning check out at the AirBnb. Finally on the road out of Saranda, I let out a sigh of relief knowing that we wouldn’t have to navigate the narrow city streets or deal with the crazy traffic any longer. 

The road to the Blue Eye was surrounded on all sides by towering trees with vines hanging from their branches.

Rather than head straight to Gjirokaster, we stopped at the Blue Eye on the way. The route to the water itself was along a dirt path, and I cringed as I once again took Mom off-roading. But the road was long enough to justify the extra time in the car, and we all hopped out of our Mercedes happy that we’d driven in closer to the main attraction.

We followed a well-trodden path from the parking lot through what felt like a tropical rainforest to the blue eye. The dirt road was surrounded on all sides by towering trees with vines hanging from their branches. There was also thick undergrowth and lush bushes adding to the jungle atmosphere. Continue reading The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 3, The Blue Eye and Gjirokaster


Outdoor Explorers 2018: Leuse

In the spirit of last year’s Outdoor Excursion series, I organized five trips for Summer 2018! Students had the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of their community, learn new skills, and have fun with their friends! First up: Leuse!

Ah, summer. I love the sunshine, long days at beach (or hot springs, in my case), and evening xhiros. The season also means that students are out of school and looking for activities to keep them busy.

This year, I decided to continue Barbara’s successful Outdoor Excursion series – with a slight twist. Last summer, Barb organized three trips around Permet and engaged students in activities like marshmallow roasting, volleyball, hiking, and swimming.

I decided to continue Barbara’s successful Outdoor Excursion series – with a slight twist.

As I was thinking about the organization of this year’s outdoor trips, I knew that I couldn’t do it alone. So I worked with a counterpart at Bashkia Permet, who truly took the idea and ran with it! She not only fully supported the excursions, but she also found funding for vans and food, which meant that we could take the students to locations that were farther away!

But before leaving the Permet city limits, I tested the waters with an introductory hiking trip in the mountains around the village of Leuse. Koli, my good friend and hiking guide, volunteered to serve as the leader of the excursion, and along the way, he taught the students valuable lessons about the outdoors and navigation in nature.

So without further ado, here’s a quick snapshot of our fun morning in the mountains! Continue reading Outdoor Explorers 2018: Leuse

Hiking Nemercka

Another weekend, another hike! Nemercka was one of the most difficult treks yet. My shoes were completely destroyed, but the views made everything worth it!

Saturday, July 7, 2018, 9:49pm

What a long, exhausting adventure the past day has been! 

My friend Koli invited Brianne and me on yet another hike into the mountains this weekend, and this time we set out at the crack of dawn. Somehow at 3:30am in the morning, I had no trouble jumping out of bed, eating quickly, and then getting dressed. The sky was still pitch black with bright pinpricks of starlight as we laced up our shoes and went out the door.

We set out at the crack of dawn.

Koli was waiting for us at exactly 4:00am on the dot, and we were quickly whisked out of Permet to the village of Dracove, where we began our hike into the Nemërçka mountains. Compared to Nemërçka, Koli’s father explained, Dhëmbel and Trebeshina are hills.

“Nemërçka is the true mountain,” he said as we began our long trek into the steep and rocky terrain.

Nemercka 1
Sunrise in the mountains

I’d climbed a little bit of Nemërçka once before with Barbara, Koli, and Koli’s father. But at that time, we’d only ventured a little beyond the waterfall, which was an easy five-hour hike. Today, we were in it for the long haul, and Koli told us to expect at least ten hours of hard climbing in the mountains. Continue reading Hiking Nemercka

Summer GLOW Camp

Immediately after coming back from my vacation, I helped three students plan and organize a 3-day GLOW Camp! The students wrote their own lessons and led games, and it was so rewarding to see their leadership in action!

My last summer in Permet is off to a rollicking start!

When I was originally looking at this month’s calendar, I had nothing special planned for the 4th of July. I was still settling back into a routine after my trips to Tirana and Italy, and I wanted to take things slow.

When I suggested a GLOW Camp as a possible summer activity, they lit up with excitement.

On Monday, July 2nd, I had my first English Club meeting with some of my most motivated students, and when I suggested a GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camp as a possible activity, they lit up with excitement.

The previous volunteer in my site, Barbara, had led an amazing GLOW Club throughout her two years of service, and my English Club girls were some of her star students. Rather than leading a camp myself, I challenged the girls to come up with the lessons, activities, and crafts themselves, and they spent the rest of the afternoon planning out the organization and logistics of each day!

Arts and crafts on the first day of GLOW Camp

The girls were determined to begin the camp on the 4th of July, and with only two days to prepare, we jumped into planning. Like I’ve said before, things in Albania that are planned at the last minute work out just as well as the things I’ve planned weeks in advance, so I thought, “May as well take advantage of every last minute opportunity to do something meaningful.”  Continue reading Summer GLOW Camp

A Day in the Life

What does a normal day in the life of a Peace Corps volunteer look like? From work to coffees, afternoon tutoring, and evening xhiros, I find ways to keep active and busy!

8:00am: Arrive for Work

One of the things that I love most about the Peace Corps is that I can never predict how my day will play out no matter what plans I make or appointments I schedule. Every morning, I go into work at the bashkia (municipality) where I have a desk and a computer in the Urbanistika (urban planning) office.

As I climb up the four flights of stairs and pass half a dozen other offices, I greet everyone with a warm, “Miremengjesi!” (“Good morning!”). My office is a large, sunny space filled with maps of the city and binders full of paperwork. My counterpart sits at a desk opposite my own, and we have two other friendly officemates who work in engineering and IT. Continue reading A Day in the Life