When deciding what I ought to bring with me to Albania, I shot from the hip.  The only things I brought which are work-out/fitness related were a pair of sparring/bag gloves, a pair of swim trunks and a small, black, plastic apparatus for strengthening my grip.  Tirana has gyms, but I don’t think I will be joining one.  I have never enjoyed running, and there isn’t really any place to go swimming.  I am by no means a fitness fanatic, but I like to stay in shape.

Etmira asked me to give her a hand this afternoon, changing out the propane gas cylinder for one of the stoves in the khuzina.  In the basement of this place is a utility room where things of this kind are kept.  It is clean and dry and rarely visited; an ideal place to work out.  Once I had accomplished Etmiras task for me, I went back down to the utility room to try something.

If you are ever travelling, and you have access to an empty 25 pound propane cylinder, you can accomplish quite a few exercises.  I am certain that Darrick Bourgeois could take this to an entirely superior level, but this will get your heart going.  Grasp the cylinder at the top and bottom with one hand, like you would hold a pair of cymbals.  Standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, suck in your gut to stabilize your core.  Curl the cylinder to between 90 and 135 degrees.  Squat down allowing your butt to make contact with the floor, rolling backward until the back of your head lightly touches the floor.  Roll forward in a smooth motion using the weight of the cylinder to bring you back onto your feet.  Stand up and extend your arms, bringing the cylinder above your head in a military press.  Return the cylinder to your starting, relaxed position with your arms extended.


After ten of these, I could feel the blood pumping.  For anyone reading this who is in shape, once you get control of your laughter, feel free to do twenty or thirty of these just to show me up. Tonight I started with three sets of ten, giving myself about a minute interval between. You have to start somewhere.

Today we met in Fushekruje.  Kurt, Stephanie, Alban, Visy and I went over some of the plan specifics with the architect, general contractor, and the man who will be hooking up our power to the city grid.  It has been raining for the last two days, which precludes us from digging trenches for drain systems or performing any outdoor concrete related tasks.

I laughed a lot tonight.  I feel like I get included in everything.  I am part of the family here, and the people have dropped their guard around me and gotten back to living normally.  I feel honored to say that.  I hope you visit me, you would like it here.