"CONTESTED SPACES AND NEGOTIATED IDENTITIES IN DHËRMI/DRIMADES OF HIMARË/HIMARA AREA, SOUTHERN ALBANIA"
by Nataša Gregorič Bon
11th September 2004. It was Friday morning when a local taxi brought Entela and me to Dhërmi/Drimades. As we settled in the Himarë/Himara municipality, we rented a taxi in order to be mobile and visit all seven villages in the area. Upon our arrival to the village the taxi driver dropped us off in the middle of the road. Wandering around and looking for the village centre we saw an old woman coming towards us. Entela asked me if we should stop her and inquire about the village and its people. As my command of Albanian language was very poor at the time, Entela took the lead and greeted her.
“Good morning lady. May we stop you for a second?” asked Entela in a gentle voice. The oldwoman, burdened with age and hardly walking, raised her head and looked at us. Instead of answering she asked: “Where are you from?” Entela explained that I am a foreigner from Slovenia an that she is from Vlorë. She went on saying that I am interested in people’shabits, culture and ways of living. The lady replied that she had no knowledge of such things and that it would be better to go to the school where people familiar with these things could be found. Although Entela told her that we were not interested in “that” kind of knowledge,the old lady insisted that she was far too old to know about such things.
Entela translated her answers and commented: “Oh dear, she can hardly speak Albanian… I guess she speaks Greek like most of the people in Himarë!” She suggested that we should leave her alone, go to the school and see what would happen. I agreed. When we wanted to thank the lady for taking her time for us and say goodbye, Entela asked me if she could ask her about her origin. Iagreed and Entela asked the old woman: “Jeni e Shqiptarë apo Greke?” (“Are you Albanian or Greek?”). The woman responded with a short “Vorioepirot”, bid us goodbye and left. Entela translated the lady’s words: “She said that she is Greek!” I commented that her answer had actually been Vorioepirot (Northern Epirot). In an agitated voice Entela explained that this meant the same as Greek. (page 18)