Posts Tagged ‘Albanians’

Spoilt for Choice


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

A friend commented the other day on the number of male admirers I was attracting in the village. And do you know what? She has a point.

It therefore begs the question; why oh why am I still single?

So let us for a moment consider all my options, and then perhaps you can help me choose between them.

Admirer A gives me flowers from his garden and declares that I am the air that he breathes and his ‘fiore di Primavera’. He enjoys walks with his dog, digging for potatoes, and chain-smoking. Admirer A is married and very much the wrong side of sixty.

Admirer B is tall and rather handsome. Apparently he likes me very very very much, or so he tells me every time we meet on the street; in broken Italian, because Admirer B…

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The Property Poltroon Plods On…


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Apparently I am being very cruel, mysterious and teasy to those who read my Status Viatoris blog Facebook page (goodness what a mouthful). So as promised, smidgen by smidgen, I will reveal some of the happenings behind my recent enigmatic comments…

Firstly let me tell you that I am trying to write this post in an apartment building whose very foundations are being shaken by all the hammering and drilling that is presently going on upstairs.

Yes, the builders are in, and yes, they are hard at work IN MY NEW HOUSE!

It has taken since October, but finally, at the end of March, my offer was accepted and I was able to sign for the upstairs apartment. The whole process has been so long and frustratingly tedious, that I have not yet celebrated in any significant way. I’ll probably save that until I am safely ensconced, at which point I’ll throw a ginormous party then retire to bed for about a month.

Let the chaos begin…

I chose an Albanian builder for the task of putting the property to rights, and to my delight, he and his gang started work almost immediately.

Then, having lulled me into a state of dreamy optimism and cosy security, they all pissed off for ten days – apparently one of the first lessons taught at tradesman school: “The Impromptu Skeddadle”. My friends and neighbours, having snorted in a most unkind way at my naivety when I informed them I expected to be in by the end of May, thought it all most amusing.

I, on the other hand, just wearily tugged out handfuls of hair not yet recovered from French Renovation Soul Destruction Inc. and wailed “Why, why, why, why me?” a lot.

Progress, of a sort…

But they are now back, and beavering away; the boss repeatedly assuring me that there is not actually a huge amount to do, and therefore still likely that I will be able to greet my 34th year from the comfort of my new home.

In the meantime, my Latin American dance lessons will just have to continue in the cramped intimacy of my current abode. But that, dear reader, is a story for another time… 😉

This is Status Viatoris, hoping the builders are as good at building things as they appear to be at knocking things down, in Italy.

Cultural Curiosity


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

My last sort-of-but-not-really boyfriend, an ethnic Hungarian from Transylvania,  left his mark on my life in three very distinct ways. Firstly by putting me off relationships, possibly for all eternity. Secondly by introducing me to two women who are shaping-up to be lifelong friends. And thirdly, by stoking the flames of a previously dormant interest in Eastern Europe.

During my travels, I have always been more fascinated by the lives of displaced economic migrants than by the humdrum activities of affluent westerners seeking a more laid-back life in the sun.

When in Spain, a large proportion of my friends were from Latin America. Now it is the local Albanian community that has captured my interest.

Albania is a tiddler of a country, bordered by Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Greece and the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. With today only just over 3 million inhabitants, its rich history and culture are coloured by the many invasions the country has experienced in the last two thousand years.

Although a combination of historical secularism, the monarchy and a long spell of communism ensured that the people do not have a particularly strong religious identity or belief, Albania is predominantly divided into Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic faiths (with the ever delightful LDS and JWs making inroads like opportunistic vampires at a sweet sixteen party).

It is a country with a linguistic influence that reaches far beyond its shores; with the language being spoken in Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Greece, Italy and Sicily. All of whom have historically important Albanian communities.

A very recent example of which has established itself in the heart of my very own little Italian village.

The original arrivals were a group of brothers and first cousins who settled in the area about fifteen years ago. Since then a veritable plethora of cousins, sisters, wives and nephews have appeared, and children been born, all of which has swelled this extended family to between forty and fifty people.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, their spoken Italian is exemplary. Like most economic migrants or those from linguistically obscure countries, necessity forces a language learning ability that does not come as naturally to people lucky enough to have been born into the main language groups.

They are also reputed to be hard workers; most of the men working in building, and although it is considerably harder for their wives to find employment, there are those who have found casual work cleaning, helping with olive harvests and similar.

They don’t tend to spend much money in the local drinking holes, expect on coffee or the occasional beer.

All in all, they live a fairly basic, modest existence. Working hard to send money back to their extended families, and to establish their own here in Italy.

Often their marriages are, after a fashion, arranged: when one of the young Albanians here reaches his mid to late twenties, he nips back home and choses from a selection of suitable matches. In cases like this, he will almost certainly have sown his wild oats, she will very likely still be a virgin. The engagement will continue over the phone for a while, and then he will pop back a summers or two later for a very showy wedding.

The happy couple then come back to Italy. He returns to work, and she gets on with her new job of cooking for him, cleaning his house, washing his clothes, and bearing him a couple of children.

There is without doubt a side to that which sets my quasi-feminist teeth a-grinding. But then I stop and think:

How comforting must it be to still have such clearly defined rules and roles? The men provide for their families. The women nurture their families. One role no more demeaning that the other.

The endless choices, the constant need to prove oneself, and the multitude of potential pitfalls that accompany total emancipation, do not trouble them. They just carry out their respective tasks, before coming together at the end of the day to enjoy the fruits of that labour.

A simple, and almost certainly much shorter, route to contentment than that which people from more ‘sophisticated’ cultural backgrounds chose to tread.

This is Status Viatoris, for whom sadly it is too late to return her emancipation to the supplier and reclaim her virginity (and besides, her cleaning is at best sporadic and her cooking is quite frankly crap), bursting blood vessels in an effort to prove herself, in Italy.

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