High on the list of Albanian cultural values is their sense of hospitality and keeping homes open to friends and visitors. While this sense of mik pritus has traditionally always been one of the highest held values, it seems even more so today for an american peace corps volunteer. Not only do Albanians always invite guests and visitors into their homes ordinarily, but Albanians love Americans so needless to say I've gotten a bit of the special treatment in my new community.
My first visit to my community was a bit shocking because it was the longest I have gone without seeing or talking to another American (it was only one week). However, my new neighbors made sure that I felt at home. In my first week, I received many small gifts from extended host family members and other neighbors. Some gifts received include bars of soap, three pairs of panty hose (from three different people), chocolate, and a big necklace.
Since Albanians some Albanians can't afford to go out that often and since women don't frequent the cafes as often as men do, most entertaining is done in homes in the afternoons. Practically every afternoon since I have been in my site I have gone to a collegue, neighbor, or family members home for a visit. In Albanian tradition, the guests are served in the homes and as previously stated, Americans get the special treatment. First, the hostess brings out a tray of some sort of fruit juice (normally peach) and a dish of chocolates. The guest takes a glass off the tray, selects a piece of chocolate, and then starts the gezuars or cheers for everyone in the room. I normally just say 'gezuar', but normally people add on many other cheers such as 'to your health', 'to you mother, father, sister, brother, past, present, and future family', or 'success in work'. Depending on how long the visit lasts, the hostess will bring out fresh fruits, cake, ice cream, or cookies. In one visit I was given a bowl of melons, bananas, and apples cut up followed by a very large serving of ice cream (and I can eat a lot of ice cream). After I filled up on fruit and ice cream, the hostess brought out large pieces of cake made of mostly sugary icing. I like sweets as much as the next kid, but I might have to claim to be on a diet soon so as not to overdose on sugar.