February 21, 2016
Mountain Pilgrims

Last weekend we were in the mountains of Kosovo with a group of other Lezha Academic Center teachers and staff and supportive parents enjoying a touch of snow. Here are some photos commemorating our weekend together. 

some snow-covered Albanian Alps

On the Way Noticing Some Snow-covered Albanian Alps (12-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

inside the tunnel through an Albanian mountain

In the 5.6-km Tunnel  on the Rrëshen-Kalimash Highway (12-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

We arrived at the Arxhena Hotel, Brod, Dragash, Kosovo, after 6 p.m. with supper at 8 p.m., so we spent some time resting or talking with other trip members.

Elsie is learning a new way to knit

Elsie Listens and Practices a New Knitting Technique Shown Her by Morela (12-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

sitting ready for supper

Katrina, Morela, and Elsie Share Conversation (12-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

after dinner was Albanian dancing

Usual After-dinner Albanian Dancing (12-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

The next morning was cold and rainy with some snow on the mountain tops--a good morning to take a few shots outside and then stay indoors in relaxed conversation.

a snow landscape outside

A Landscape that Appealed to My Fancy (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dini Shahini and friends talking inside

Dini (R) and Friends Talking (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

two mothers sharing a moment with a cell phone

Two Mothers Check a Cell Pone Photo? (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

more of the group in conversaiton

The Men Gathered on One Half of the Circle to Talk (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Endi is involved, too

Endi Is Also Checking Her Cell Phone (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Arnoldo gives a smile

Arnaldo with a Ready Smile Reminds Me of His Older Brother (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dimitri checks me out

Dimitri's Shy Smile Also Show Readily (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

In the afternoon many of the adults gathered in the dining room around a table. Below is the result of my "hand-stitching" of two photos of the group.

a merged photo of a group around a table

Mostly Parents around a Table for Conversation (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

After dinner that evening, the dancers from our group were joined by other visitors including a very young girl who knew the steps and the fact that as the last female in the line she needed to keep her hand behind her back. As older adults we could  not help but call her "cute." 

even the youngest ones get involved with the dancing

Klaudja, Endi and the Young Girl Dance (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Next morning was a new day with sunshine and no rain. It needed to start with a good breakfast.

the breakfast buffet

The Breakfast Buffet at Arxhena Hotel (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Before heading back to Lezhë, some of  our group wanted to try the chair lift and some skiing. The lift was operating, but the ski rental would not open until later, so they cam down the mountain on the lift or walking.

Sunday a.m. the chair lift was in operation

The Chair Lift Going up the Mountain (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

two riders on the chair liift

Who Is It on the Lift? Anyone I Should Know? (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dini and "Skander" come off of the mountain

Dini and Fellow Climber Have Fun Trudging Down the Mountain (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

On the way home, there were a number of sights worth seeing  in the daytime as compared to the dark and rain we had when we arrived. 

many villages sit on the mountain sides in Kosovo

Many Small Villages Clung to the Mountainside (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

 As we passed from Kosovo into Albania we soon past part of the Fierza Reservoir. In bright daylight I noticed a distinctively blue-green color that reminded me of copper sulfate. Dini confirmed that there were abandoned copper mines in the area. The Royal Society of Chemistry has published an easily readable post regarding copper mines and chemistry. The Lake on the Albanian side is in the Kukës District where where are many ores. 

My research for this post led me to learn about the forced labor camp at Spaç about 30 km (20 mi) closer to Lezhë. During communism times the prisoners in this camp worked the copper mines nearby. It was only in 1990 that this camp was closed not long before Albanians gained their independence from the communist leaders. Former Fulbright Scholar, Nancy Neill, describes her visit there in a blog post in 2015.

 the greenish blue of a copper compound has tinted the lake

Copper Sulfate in the Water of Fierza Reservoir (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

In time for a late lunch break, we stopped at a Boçi Oil gas station with a cafeteria. Inside they showed their family tree and outside there two nice New Holland excavators were parked possibly waiting for a sale.

Boci Oil gas station

A Modern Boçi Oil Gas Station and Restaurant (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

inside the station is a family tree of the owners

Needlepoint of the Boçi Family Tree (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Iout front were two excavators on tracks, for sale?

One of Two New Holland Excavators on Display (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

We all were a bit or more on the tired side as we travelled home.

we were all tired coming back home

Klaudja and Elsie Each Took a Nap as Dini Drove Us Home (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

On a different note, from some friendly competition among us sibliings on the Bowman family email group, I shared what I am using as a desk. So now all of you who read this get to see the inside of our apartment again, too. I do not always have my papers spread on the large coffee table, and we do not always have clothes drying in our kitchen.  But sometimes both of these happen, even at the same time!

my "desk" and the table hold my papers for grading

My "Desks" Inside Our Apartment (11-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

We continue to find meaning, significance and enjoyment as we live and learn more about the culture and geography around us here in Albania. And as God gives us the strength and fortitude, we want to work at learning to speak more of the language. Mirupafshim! 

February 15, 2016
From Spelling Bee Spectator to Mountain Observer

In just one week we went from the thrill of watching students excel in a regional spelling bee to watching the mountains of Kosovo.

On Friday after my Bible class, a number of interested parents, some teachers and a few staff from Lezha Academic Center travelled to a small village and a larger hotel just north of Prizren, Kosovo--Brod, Dragash--to have some fun in the snow. But the snow turned out to be rather sparse and soft. Fellowship was good as was the food we all brought to share for lunch or the dinner provided by the hotel.

One of the peaks near the hotel

One of the Peaks Visible from the Hotel (13-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

some of the fellowship inside the hotel

Elsie, Rafael, Morela and I Share Conversation and Coffee (14-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

I'll share more photos from our trip in a later post.

A week a go on Saturday was the regional spelling bee put on by the Peace Corps volunteers, and LAC again participated. This time our students made it to the last rounds but not to the final three.

Fatlum gets ready to spell his words

LAC Students Sara and Fatlum Get Ready to Spell (6-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Sare gets ready to spell her words

Sara Is Ready for Her Words (6-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dea spells a word

Dea Spells Her Word (6-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

the audience waits as Fatlum speels a word

It Was a Good Crowd Listening to the Students Compete Together (6-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

 The next day after the spelling bee, some of us met as usual for coffee and conversation before church. The worship service was at the Brethren church as the four evangelical churches met together.

Dini makes a conversational point

Dini Shahini Makes a Point during Conversaiton (7-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Klaudja listens in

Klaudja, Eighth-Grade LAC Students, Listens to the Conversation (7-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dimitri also listens

Dimitri, another Eighth-Grade LAC Student, Listens to the Conversation (7-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

volunteers from England share a song

Short-term Volunteers from England Share Testimonies (7-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

Evianda and her neice listen during the worship service

Evianda and Her Niece Listen to the Service (7-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

There are three more photos from just a bit longer ago which I want to share from our life in Lezhë. The first one is a visit by Katrina (a teacher from Ohio/Montana) and Emily Cook (Robert Cook's four-year-old daughter). We enjoy such visits a lot, and they remind us of our grandchildren. 

Katrina brought Emily Cook for a visit

Katrina and Emily Stopped by Our Apartment for a Saturday Morning Visit (30-Jan-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

 As a contribution from a friend of LAC, there is now a sign outside of the football stadium advertising both LAC and the Lincoln Center English language program (located at the school)

putting up a sigh for LAC and the Lincoln Centerr

The Sign for LAC and the Lincoln Center Program Goes Up (1-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)

For the residents living along Rruga Johan Straus, the completion of the water main project and the installation of sidewalks and repaving the street seemed a long time in coming. But now it is finished.

repaving Rruga Johan Straus

Repaving of Rruga Johan Straus (2-Feb-16; © Richard L. Bowman)


We enjoy the ordinary here in Lezhë and the extraordinary, as well. And we thank God for both.

--©2014-16, Richard L. Bowman

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