This weblog is my online journal of my free trip to Kosovo.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Sorry to be so episodic with my posts. The days are so much the same and busy enough that I lose track of time. That
works to my advantage for passing the time until redeployment. I have been feeling pretty sick lately, too, but I hope the
worst is over.
Correction to last post: The Serbians voted and passed their constitution last October.
The results of last Sunday's Serbian Parliamentary election were not encouraging either. The conservative party received
the most votes, albeit only 26 percent. We will have to see how a government is formed. We all await the UN commission recommendation
on Kosovo which is due this week or next.
Today is Seribian parliamentary election day. This parliament will decide, from the Serbian point of view, the fate of
Kosovo. Interesting that they are also voting on a constitutional amendment declaring Kosovo forever a part of Serbia. Not
a very flexible position. Also interesting that Kosovo Albanians were not allowed to register for the vote.
Yesterday was the Islamic New Years Day as governed by their lunar calendar. Traditionally, fighting has been frowned
upon in this first month of the year, but news from Iraq suggests that is no longer the case.
Not much to report from the hospital. A few fender-benders but no real trauma.
I will report next time on my visit to the Pristina University Hospital.
I promised pictures of the place. Check the Gallery page for the standard foggy day scenes of the camp
followed by a "clear day." Above is the view from my front porch. For those of you interested in satellite views, try Google
Earth or Microsoft Terraserver with the following latitude and longitude: 42 22'00.07N, 21 15'00.13E
I was talked into flag football last night under the floodlights of our on-base soccer pitch. Fast enough for the first
ten plays, I pulled my hamstring trying to overtake a 30 year old and feel very silly now. I feel a little less
lonely that the guy who talked me into it tweaked his hamstring 30 minutes later. I think I will stick to the stationary bike
in the gym from now on. Wish they had a rowing machine, though.
My visit to the orphanage was fun. The kids were happy to see us. They are not war orphans, however. Generally they are
abandoned children, some with birth defects or special needs, and others are like our foster children being removed from bad
situations at home. The facility was beautiful having been built by the Austrian and I think Swiss governments. There was
also an attached kindergarten that catered to neighborhood kids as well. It looked just like any well kept American school
complete with backpacks on pegs with name tags and the walls plastered with artwork. Look who has made it to Kosovo:
It was good to get outside the wire. Macedonia (pronounced with a hard "c") was surprising to me. It
looks much like any other southern European area, a bit modern but a bit time-worn, too. Contrary to my expectation, it is
not Greek influenced at all but is a Slavic country with signs in Cyrillic as the national alphabet. There are Albanians there,
too, with sympathy for the Kosovars and difficulties with their own Macedonian government , but I detect no pan-national
Albanian movement. The clinic we got the MRI at is private enterprise. All medical care even at University hopitals appears
to be on a cash basis anyway. See the Gallery for trip photos.
We are back to clouds and fog. One item of note. It appears that we generated
and I read the first official U.S. Army radiologic study of 2007 as study number 07000001 for a guy who dropped the bench
press weights on his chest sometime after January 1. I guess it was his New Year's workout resolution. Unfortunately, he needs
to take 12 weeks off now to let the rib fractures heal.
I have uploaded a photo of me in front of the hospital just to prove that I
am really here. Note the more fashionable and understated shoulder holster for my weapon compared to the gaudy hip holster
I had in Bagram.
I am off to Macedonia
tomorrow and will report on that when I return.
It looks pretty much the same around here on January 1. There was a lot of firecracker
(and gunfire?) noise last night in the surrounding villages giving the eerie feeling of being besieged in our gated community.
But if there is one place people are genuinely happy to see Americans in the world, it is Kosovo. At least among the
majority Kosovars, who are Muslim by the way. They are extremely hard workers taking care of our custodial and food service
chores with a diligence no American or even illegal imigrant could muster. We have the cleanest hospital I have ever seen.
They are looking forward to independence this year for which I was thanked as an American in the PX check out line. That remains
to be seen...