The other weekend my friend Nick and took a trip to Velipoje. On the way to the beach, we met an Albanian architect who had studied in Germany and Switzerland. His first response when we told him we were from the United States was, ” I have heard about some Texan who is living in Vau i Dejes. It must be you.” Under most circumstances, I think this would probably weird me out a little bit but in small town Albania, I have grown accustomed to people knowing much more about me than I know about them. My favorite is when people ask me where I live and I tell them which apt building and their response is “4th floor right?”. If you knew, why’d you ask? I digress…
Anyways, as I was saying, on the way to the beach Nick and I met Alfonso, an architect who has studied and lived abroad. Alfons spoke really good English and we talked about Albania and Vau Dejes and made tentative plans to grab coffee at a later date. Last night he gave me a call and we met up for some coffee. He brought along another friend who lives in Vau Dejes and also speaks English really well. It was a great night because usually I only get the chance to talk in English on the weekend and with my limited Albanian it can bet rough towards the end of the week.
We talked a lot about the potential that they saw in Vau Dejes. In particularly, we talked a lot about the church that Skenderbeu was married in. I can’t remember the name but I wrote about it in a previous post. Evidently, on the same island is an underground tunnel system that was built to defend the city from the Ottoman’s. The priest at the church has maps and is very knowledgeable about the history of the area but Alfonso said the maps were difficult to read. He did say that he has found similar maps in Switzerland so it is very possible that the tunnels exist.
I am not quite sure how to go about organizing an archeological dig for this city but it does make Vau i Dejes that much more interesting. There is the current Vau i Dejes, then there is Vau – Dejes Atlantis, which was flooded when the damn was built, and now there is subterranean Vau i Dejes.
In recent news, I met a local artist today who has done religious restorations all over Northern Albania. He spent an hour and a half showing his paintings and pictures of his various other works. I didn’t understand everything that he was saying but he was patient and kept talking to me which is helpful. As I was thanking him and leaving he told me that I was welcome back anytime. He said knew it must be hard to live in a place where I don’t know any of the traditions, culture, or language but that he would help me and that he is going to help me learn more Shqip. It is nice that people are willing to go out of there way to help me feel at home here.