Monday, June 11, 2012

Mountain City

::Kat (6/10)

As usual, we were greeted by Sanije and Visar's smiling faces this morning, as well as our new friend Fikret, the assistant basketball coach of Pristina. We embarked on our journey to Peja, where Rina and Ezana live. To say that the drive there was beautiful is an understatement. Tall, scenic, snow-capped mountains became visible in the distance, and as we drove we got closer and closer, until we were surrounded. I could not take my eyes off them! As we got closer to the city, it seemed as if we were going to drive right through them. And we almost did; the city of Peja is located in the middle of these gorgeous, looming mountains. Everyone looked with awe and wonder. When we arrived, we were greeted by Rina and Ezana. We went inside the building and met Mr. Valdet Shoshi and other municipality officials. After introductions and a little bit about the history of the club in Peja, we were invited to have coffee. But on our way out we strayed into an art exhibit, where a kindly elderly man showed us his gorgeous paintings. They consisted of some history of the country, and some history of Albanians. We went around the whole room and Rina translated for us as he told the story behind every painting. Among them included a woman warrior, the iconic Mother Teresa, and a former president of Kosovo. After our coffee break (at a restaurant ironically named Restaurant California), we had lunch at another beautiful restaurant with a great view of the mountains. During lunch, the director of Youth and Sport kindly joined us.

After lunch we headed to the stadium for the clinic. We were very impressed to see around 80 girls come out to play! All were energetic and enthusiastic about soccer. The clinic was divided up into different stations, and we all split up to help. Tori and I were given the job to come up with some drills for the girls, so we did a mix of dribbling races, a small scrimmage, and passing drills. All the girls were eager to learn, and it was a blast watching them play! We left tired but happy. After the clinic, we went to visit another site where girls were happily practicing, and were excited to meet us. Then we went for another coffee at a beautiful restaurant that specialized in fish. There was water everywhere, with hundreds of cool-looking yellow and black fish swimming. Of course, the scenic mountains loomed around us. When we had finished our coffee and water, we all piled into the cars, and were led to Fikret's family home. We were greeted with warm smiles and delicious pie. We all dug in, and relaxed in the peaceful backyard, entertained by Fikret's adorable nephews playing soccer. Then we departed with many thanks back to Pristina. The drive back was beautiful as well. When we got back, we all watched Spain and Italy in the European cup games. Then we went to dinner on the eighth floor of our hotel, complete with a beautiful view and the Ireland versus Croatia game. Much to my disappointment, (but exactly what I expected) Croatia beat Ireland 3-1. Sanije and Lumi joined us, and we got to know each other better than ever before with a game of 20 questions, ending a great day with perfect people.

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