Sunday, September 7, 2008

2-3 September – Kosovo

What a delight to be able to visit the world’s very youngest country so soon after its proclaimed independence. Recognized as an independent country by the world’s democracies only months ago, we were very pleased to be able to drive through Kosovo. What we saw made us relatively optimistic about the country’s future. There is building activity everywhere. In the many bustling markets, everything from vegetables to cars are changing hands. The official currency is Euro, and Kosovo is very focused on joining Europe. Young people are strolling around the beautiful town of Prizren, drinking coffee, chatting, smiling. Despite the Muslim faith of the majority in the Albanian community, the young women are wearing fashion clothes, not headscarves. But the conflict with Serbia is very present and manifested by the hundreds of KFOR peacekeeping vehicles seen everywhere (mainly manned by German troops in the areas we visited).

We celebrated Atlas’ first birthday with cake in a traditional café in Prizren. Our children’s blond hair created some commotion. Everybody wants to touch them, especially Tinna whose hair is almost white. The kids usually do not mind but that may change…

We tried to explain to the children that there has recently been a war in Kosovo, and Temba asked a lot of questions. Obviously, children think that war is quite stupid. If only all adults would feel the same way.

The grape harvesting season was in full swing and we stopped by the roadside to buy fresh grapes. The friendly Kosovars almost refused to accept money from us, since we only wanted a few bunches instead of the 25kg crates they were selling the grapes by.

We left Kosovo with a very positive feeling about this young country’s future despite all the terrible things that have happened here in the recent past.

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