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Mothers in Tirane, Albania

In Tirane, Wade and I couchsurfed with a young Albanian man, Florenc, and his mother. I was exhausted from pregnancy and it was a welcome relief to stay in a home instead of a hostel or sex hotel. Florenc was recently returned from New York where he lived and worked before being denied political asylum. [...]

In Tirane, Wade and I couchsurfed with a young Albanian man, Florenc, and his mother. I was exhausted from pregnancy and it was a welcome relief to stay in a home instead of a hostel or sex hotel.

Florenc was recently returned from New York where he lived and worked before being denied political asylum. His mother was a loving, protective conservative woman. I would try to help her prepare dinner, communicating through hand signals since I spoke no Albanian and she only knew a few words of English.

Mostly I did things wrong (diced the garlic into the yogurt instead of just throwing whole cloves in, washed the dishes with our castille soap instead of the dish soap I hadn’t been able to find up in a cabinet etc) but she laughed it off and appreciated the effort.

When Wade got up to help he was yelled at by the mother until he sat back down. I was then told to bring him another beer.

In Albania, the kitchen was clearly a woman’s place.

Honestly, rather than this bothering me, it made me feel included. I enjoy women’s places, especially while pregnant. It was a huge comfort to be around another mother.

With Florenc translating, she asked how old I was (24, the same age she was when she had her first son), how far along I was, what I was craving, what names we were thinking about, why we were going back to my family’s house to have the baby instead of Wade’s, and, the one asked most frequently, why he hadn’t married me yet.

She told me stories of her own pregnancies and encouraged me to eat and eat and eat. It would be easy to wax on about how pregnancy connects women all around the world, but we retain our cultural differences too. As dinner progressed Florenc’s mother proudly offered me some of her homemade raki, a liquor from grapes.

I looked to Florenc to translate that I wasn’t drinking because I was pregnant. His mother looked confused for a minute and then said “How about a beer?”

Filed under: Accommodation, Albania, Food, Pregnancy, Travel With Family

About the Author:

After traveling on her own for three or four years, Chaya met up with Wade Shepard, the editor of VagabondJourney.com. They were married in 2009, and continue to travel the world together with their young daughter. From time to time Chaya blogs about family travel and life on the road. has written 102 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Chaya Shepard is currently in: Xiamen, China

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  • Bob L December 24, 2009, 9:24 pm

    Thank you for this post. It is Christmas Eve and I am away from home and feeling a bit nostalgic. Seeing the two of you smiling away and reading about a somewhat more traditional old world way of living was just what I needed. The other times I have been away from home for the holidays was in areas that celebrated Christmas both at home and in the streets and made for a festive environment. The Florida Keys are about as un-Christmas as a place can get. (Holidays, Hanukkah, Yule, whatever all the readers celebrate at this time of year) Florenc’s mother reminds me of my grandma and other *old world* women in my family.

    And I must say, your writing complements Wade’s immensely. Maybe you should put links in your posts to some of Wade’s writings from the time period you are writing about. It would be interesting to compare the points of view.

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    • Chaya February 8, 2010, 12:42 pm

      Hi Bob,
      I too have fond memories of “old world” women in my life and harbor a soft spot in my heart for a traditional way of life. When we were traveling through Eastern Turkey a bus driver commenting on my pregnancy began listing what women should do: make babies, cook, take care of their husband and the house. Though my former punk rock self would beat me up, that is exactly what I like doing.

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  • charles March 25, 2010, 2:35 pm

    Sound like an interesting place been planning on travelling there for sometime do have an pointers.

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    • Chaya October 8, 2010, 9:07 am

      Go there, Albania is a great place for traveling.

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  • enkelejda September 6, 2010, 4:31 pm

    hi, thanks for sharing :). I loved the part when Wade was yelled by the mother to sit down. It is soo Albanian, women want to do everything and to spoil the guests, as well they do not expected to have a men around them in the kitchen. I hope you enjoyed your trip. cheers

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