Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Kosovo: Chapter 4, Scene 1 Cinderella Goes to the Ball...Sort Of

I continue to have new and interesting experiences here in Kosovo. For example, I was invited to an event known as the Ballo Shqiptare. Don’t worry. I couldn’t pronounce it either.

A lot of famous people attended.
Of course the only one I recognized was
the prime minister.
I didn’t exactly know what it was, but I could tell by the invitation it was a very special affair. One of the organizers is the mom to one of my fourth graders. She also happens to be a former Miss Kosovo and fairly well connected in the social and political realm. Of course if you met her you would only recognize her beauty, both inside and out. She’s a humble and sweet woman. I was honored to be included.

As I said, I could tell it was a classy event… meaning I probably needed to get a new dress. And shoes. My friend Valmire said the Ballo was “fancy-fancy.” Her dress was a long evening gown and she already had plans for the hairdresser.

My friend Grace agreed to take me shopping. This turned out to be an event in itself. We started by going to the “fancy-fancy “ store for an appropriate gown or, as I decided, at least a nice dress. Grace planned to wear a shorter dress along the lines of what I would call church finery so I was totally ready to find something similar.

I was prepared to shop. I had to be. This was Friday night and the gala was on Saturday.

It turns out shopping in Prishtina is a bit different than what I’m used to in America. The shopkeeper and her assistant picked out several dresses for me then followed me into the dressing room where the assistant literally dressed me like a porcelain doll. She placed very high heels on my feet (the backs cut out so anyone could try them on) and escorted me out to the viewing area where Grace grabbed my hand to keep me from falling over.

I turned to the mirror to see an ill-fitting dress hanging on my wobbling frame. “Beau-ti-ful, Madame! Beau-ti-ful!” The shopkeeper exclaimed.

I shook my head no and wobbled back to the little room where the assistant proceeded to do the doll thing again, shoving my arms into another ugly garment. “Beau-ti-ful Madame! Ah! Beau-ti-ful!” She turned to Grace and told her in Albanian about the high quality of the fabric.

We said we needed to leave but at their insistence I was the stiff doll model to two or three more dresses. And they were all “Beau-ti-ful!” I was just happy to finally get out without breaking my neck parading about in the high clunky heels.

We found our way through several more shops. Our persistence paid off and by the end of the evening I had a suitable, though not so fancy dress, jewelry, and shoes. All ready, right?

=Rolling my hair in rags!
Wrong. Saturday morning looked promising until the electric went off. I didn’t know where to go for a hairdresser and without internet I couldn’t search for a place. By the time the power came back on three hours later, I had a new plan. I’d curl my hair myself.

The "After" shot.
The only problem was that I have no curlers and no curling iron. When I was a little girl, my mother used to roll my hair with socks. I pulled out my skimpy supply of SmartWool socks. Nope. Not gonna work. So I did the next best thing. I cut up an old pillowcase I brought with me from the States and “rolled” my hair.

My friend Jill helped me calm down some of the crazy wild curls and by the time my friends picked me up, I was feeling downright fancy if I do say so myself.

The event was everything…no, more than I hoped for. It was a celebration of Kosovo’s rich culture. Musicians, artists, dancers, singers, members of Parliament, people with embassy connections, high society, and a few smiling teachers from Prishtina High School enjoying traditional foods, music, and folk dancing.  I even managed a “selfie” with the prime minister of Kosovo.

The whole evening was indeed “Beau-ti-ful!” But maybe pictures say it best.

Friends from PHS...hey we clean up pretty good, right?
I couldn't resist a selfie with
 the Prime Minister of Kosovo
Ramush Haradinaj

Traditional dancers take a break to eat.

Traditional Singers at the Ballo

Traditional musicians and singers performed.

Join me as I spend these next months in Kosova (the Albanian pronunciation for Kosovo) in Southeastern Europe. Each week I share my experiences. Leave your comments and questions below. I’ll try to address each as best I can.


  1. When Isabella was One we were at a restaurant, Ramush happened to be there. She started getting his attention. Him and Mark ended up exchanging phone numbers and Mark met him for coffee one afternoon.

    1. What fun! He is a very nice man and has great respect for John Chesnut. Thank you for reading the blog and for taking the time to comment!

  2. How neat! Seriously, Becky - these adventures are fantastic! I find myself excited for you week to week, just waiting to see what the next opportunity / experience is going to be! :)

    1. Thank you, Holly! It is indeed an adventure. I think it is a matter of saying "yes" when something new arises. Hoping to transfer that to my life in the States when I return! Wish you were here. You would love teaching at Prishtina High School!


Leave your comments here. I look forward to hearing from you.