Last Wednesday was Dita e Veres, or "Spring Day," here in Albania. On Dita e Veres, all the schools have the day off, and everyone congregates in the center of town to celebrate. I went out with some friends to join in the festivities. One of the main streets of Tirana was decorated with garlands of large, brightly-colored plastic flowers strung over the road, and there were booths set up to sell food and traditional crafts. On street corners, people sold yellow mimosa flowers, which grow all over Albania in the spring and make the air smell wonderful.
My friends and I wandered through the crowded streets, stopping to watch a traditional dance and to drink thick Turkish coffee. We ate akullore (ice cream) and admired the beautiful hand-made traditional crafts that people were selling in booths on the side of the road. I got to try ballokume, a large cookie made of corn meal that is traditionally eaten on Dita e Veres. I also got to climb the pyramid, a monument in the center of town that was constructed to honor the death of Albania's communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, in 1985. The walls of the pyramid are very steep, and I was absolutely terrified to climb it! But the view from the top was wonderful. We could look down on all the festivities below us, and the crowd was so thick that we could barely see the ground.