What a dream it was to visit this place. I don’t mean that it had been a lifelong ambition. But my aim at the beginning of 2018 was to go to places ‘off the beaten path’. The Balkans epitomised that but more so than the others, the Republic of Kosovo.
I only stayed one night in the capital city Prishtina before heading further north to the city of Peja. I’d never felt so surreal to be there. The youngest country in Europe. It’s safe to say I didn’t look remotely native. But everyone I met were all humbly welcoming and I even had a conversation with a local in French. He invited me for a coffee the next time I would visit.
Throughout my time travelling in these countries I encountered Islam on various occasions. I didn’t know a great deal about the religion and its teachings but on a personal level for a while now I’ve felt compelled to research a little. So I visited my first mosque while spending time in Sofia and then visited another two throughout my time in Kosovo. The hostel where I stayed in Peja was also stacked with plenty of books and I stumbled upon an English version of a book teaching Islam. I spent one of my evenings reading some pages and resting quietly in my bed area.
I’m not a believer of any religion. My own opinion is that to be a believer in any faith would require years of studying and education. I never enjoyed being raised as a catholic mainly because I didn’t understand it. What I do respect now is the power religion has to change someones life for the better and for that I would not attempt to persuade anyone to give up their learning. Unless it was some dark, hateful shit.
Here’s to you dear Kosovo. You helped me live out a small dream and welcomed me with grace. Until next time.