One of my favorite Albanian words: Pushim. Not only because it so easily fits into my favorite Salt n’ Pepa’s, Push it, but also for its actual meaning. Pushim is Vacation. Pushim is a Holiday. Pushim is a Day Off from Work. Pushim is a coffee break. So when it all boils down…Pushim is everything that’s right with the world!
So…let me break down some of the various pushims I’ve enjoyed during my service thus far: (Although adding “s” is not how we make things plural here in Albania. If I wanted to be true to the Shqip form, it would be pushimet…. Unless it was in the indefinite form which would be pushime. Crystal clear, right?)
Vacations: July and August are peak vacation months in Albania. Not a big surprise,
that pretty much goes for the rest of the Northern Hemisphere too! And during that time, work comes to all but a screeching halt! Most higher ranking staff take 2-3 weeks off at a time. While the cats away, the mice certainly don’t work on budgets or statistical analysis! So… during the summer months, I took advantage of a little vacation time myself…taking a dip in the Adriatic outside of Lezhe, sliding around on the cobblestone streets of Gjirokaster, Cheers-ing “Gezuar” at the Korce Beerfest, riding on a lackof-speed boat to the island on Lake Prespa and capturing mountain peak views in Bajrum Curri.
Holidays: There’s Nevrusi….where Albanians celebrate by baking a coin into their savory dinner pie. The one who gets the piece with the coin has good luck for the year ahead. But don’t ask me what the actual days is supposed to symbolize. I’ll learn next year! And there’s a Big Bajram…and a regular Bajram. I don’t know the difference. We celebrate a day for Mother Teresa. Both November 28th and 29th are Independence Days. (I think from two different empires…Roman and Ottoman, maybe?) Eh…I’ll tell you in a few weeks! And I’m sure there are more to come! And Christmas is Krishtelindje or Birth of Christ. There are Muslim and Orthodox religions here. And my favorite part is that….GET THIS….they co-exist in perfect harmony. (Hey rest of the world…there’s something you could learn here!)
Days Off: Like in the US, my “work” is Monday-Friday. But since I’ve taken on some projects outside of my host agency, Bashkia Elbasan (Municipality of Elbasan), I often find myself working on the evenings and weekends too. But its not work like drudgery… these are all projects that I’m excited about. And as a PCV…we’re “on duty” 24-7.
Coffee Breaks: Albanians favorite past-time. Well…maybe a close 2nd to weddings. I’ve told you before…they LOOOOOVE their weddings! But a coffee pushim is a great way to spend time with colleagues and learning about their lives and families. And while most businesses and organizations are trying to deter too many coffee pushims in order to boost productivity, sometimes its just necessary to step away for a caffeine jolt. And you know for me that’s some high voltage!
So... by now, you can probably see why I’m digging this pushim concept! You might have to wait a whole year to take another vacation. And in the US…there’s a pretty decent Holiday drought after Easter….especially when it comes early. And the work week? Well…everybody’s working for the weekend! But here in Albania….you never need wait too long to have another pushim. And that’s a beautiful thing!
Peace, Love and Gimme a Break!