Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reflections and Photos from Anne Olson

On first impression, many things have changed in Kosovo since 2005. Independence from Serbia was declared in February of this year. People are dressed more fashionably. Many youth have cell phones and email. European automobiles are seen more often now, and car washes are available. Not everyone has access, though, and many horse-drawn carts and other motor conveyances are still used. Farmers still walk their milk cows to the pasture and home again daily - tramping down the street or on sidewalks. Few war-damaged homes remain; much building is taking place. Many new restaurants and shops are open. While driving in the country, I notice irrigation rigs in use, something not seen 3 years ago.

Second impressions show that many things have not changed. The governing bodies are not strong at this time. Infrastructure of the country is weak...for instance; there still is no mail service. Obituaries are still fastened to telephone poles, leading me to believe that newspapers either are not available or regular. Garbage is still burned and the streets are filled with trash. The home I lived in 3 years ago was on a stretch of street heavily damaged during the war. It still shows no signs of repair; heavily potholed and with no sewer grates or street lights, making for treacherous foot travel at night. Also, vehicles driving down this street must weave back and forth around the bumps and potholes.

The most noticeable difference this trip is that the unbearable heat of 2005 is now cooler temperatures and rainy weather much of the time. Many of us are unprepared for long pants and long-sleeved shirts. We actually crave a blanket at night!