How I spend my evenings here at site with my host family.
I’m a sucker for a good evening routine. That being said, I’ve fallen in love with the one I mostly follow here at my site.
Most days, my mom will make dinner and my siblings will frantically knock on my door until I open it, greeted by them saying in staggered unison: A don hëngra bukë? (Do you want to eat dinner?) I’ll respond yes, they’ll say “hajde” (come on), and then I’ll follow them into the kitchen. We’ll all eat dinner, and then an extended family member will come by the house to take me on a walk. Sometimes there’s another family member with her, and sometimes my mom and/or oldest sister will come too.
So, we walk. A long ways. Our usual walk takes a little over an hour, and I tracked the distance one time to about 3 miles. The path we walk is absolutely gorgeous.
Sometimes I’ll participate in a little small talk (in Albanian) on the walks, but usually not. Usually, I just stare at the mountains.
Once we get back to the house, we’ll either eat dinner if we didn’t before and/or chug some cold water. Sometimes the extended family members will stay for a bit, but other times they go back home.
After dinner / walking is çai (tea) time. I’ll sit on the couch with my mom and some siblings (some nights either all or none of my siblings go to bed early, while other nights the 2 older sisters trade-off in getting the younger siblings to bed / who gets to stay up to drink), drink çai with lemon, and watch one of my family’s favorite Turkish serials (soap operas). They’re originally in Turkish, and the subtitles are in Albanian, so I think it’s fairly obvious that I completely understand what’s going on (is the sarcasm translating?). What I don’t need language to understand, however, is that all of the serials are ridiculously dramatic and very entertaining.
There have been a few times when all of my family is at home, sitting on the couch, and watching it together. It’s completely silent (remember… I have 7 siblings. Including two 5-year-olds and a 3-year-old), and they’ll gasp in unison at a particularly dramatic part. It’s almost cinematic.
Around 9 I’ll say that I’m going to bed, get goodnight kisses from my siblings, and retire to my room to lay on my phone for probably a bit too long before going to sleep. Sometimes I’ll have a stash of chips in my room that I’ll delve into while watching a show I downloaded on my Netflix app.
’Tis truly an exciting life I lead here (again… is the sarcasm translating?). Jokes aside, I’ve genuinely come to enjoy my evenings at site. It’s nice to have a routine, and the simplicity of my routine here reminds me that even though there are a few key differences in this routine as opposed to the evening routine I followed back in the states (i.e: communicating in a shared language), family and good company transcend any culture.