We made our way over to Dashimir’s house for breakfast. It was a nice little place, an apartment block. I had noticed with Albanian houses that on the outside, they looked as though they were crumbling, but they were very well kept on the inside. People really cared about their homes, just a shame their councils didn’t give the buildings a lick of paint every so often. It had been an intense few days and I was a bit tired, so when Dashimir cracked open a beer for me at 10.30 in the morning I wasn’t so keen.
And then guess who walked in…
There she was, the girl I’d been having beef with all this time. It wasn’t long before everyone felt the tension in the room. Her eyes basically said to me, ‘what the fuck are you doing in my house?’ I’d made Ednora aware of my issues with the young lady, and now it had come to loggerheads. She explained to Dashimir the situation as we stared each other out. Was she xenophobic, a man hater, did she not like tall people because she was so damn short? Either way, Dashimir tried his best to bring us together. Rebecca, her name apparently, was asked to come and sit on my lap. I thought I’d be open-minded and accept this gesture for family peace. She eventually caved and we smiled at each other through gritted teeth. We were friends, for family’s sake. She jumped off my lap and went off to do her own thing, mainly putting things in her mouth and wandering around touching things she shouldn’t.
Next up for us was to head to Val’s (the groom) wedding. That’s correct, two weddings in Albania, one for the bride, and one for the groom. We were to head to Kukes, a north-western town near the Kosovo border, with Erjol, Esterina’s brother, and his girlfriend, Sophie, a compatriot.
We pulled up in Kukes, a lovely quaint town under the gaze of a huge mountain, and headed to the bar where Val’s brother was. He was in a sports bar with a few other blokes working on last minute frantic preparations. Ednora gave a helping hand in writing up the names for the table plan. I would have offered my services had it not been for the fact that my handwriting is worse than that of a two year old.
We checked into our hotel and Erjol’s room was next to ours. I opened our curtain and there were a pack of huskies on our roof right next to our window, not something you see every day! One of them was an albino too. Its white hair and light blue eyes looked incredible. So many times I’ve woken up in London only to find a pack of huskies…
We had to get ready in record time for the wedding, which Ednora did very impressively. In fact, it’s the fastest I’ve ever seen her get ready. This has been logged in preparation for the next time she’s faffing about. I’ll say, ‘you remember that time in Kukes when you got ready well fast?’ In theory it’ll work, but in reality she’ll probably just tell me to piss off.
Upon arrival at the venue, everyone was hanging around outside for the champagne reception. There was a large constituency of English people at this wedding, so far more of an even split. Val and his family did extremely well to blend both cultures together at the event. Some English things we witnessed was a best man’s speech, a groom’s speech (where traditionally the Groom is not allowed to open his mouth), and at the end of the night the English hit the dance floor to an intense 15 minute western music dancing sesh.
The layout was much like Esterina’s wedding. We were on a table with four Albanians, two English, and two Malaysians. Typically, our English friend at our table, George, was completely hammered. I was wondering the night before what would have happened to someone if they drank a bottle and a half of Raki. Well now I know. Their face turns beetroot red, their eyes glaze over, they slump in their chair, and stare into the abyss with a half-smile frozen to their face. Oh, and they take up smoking. I’ve never seen a girlfriend roll her eyes so much in the space of six hours.
Food was aplenty. Five courses of meat, salad and then a dessert. The food was similar to the previous night, but the most interesting dish was the lamb and potatoes served in a big shared tray. The head was in there, tongue and eyes included. George dumped it on our Malaysian friend’s plate. Our Albanian friends explained that it was an act of honour to offer the head to someone else. Again, another Albanian tradition decorated in respect. Whether George knew that is another issue. We finished up around 2.30am and were back at the hotel with the huskies.