The next few days were really just filled with rounding up my stay, seeing Gosia off, who went back to London, and to prepare for my upcoming visit to Kosovo. On my last day, I somehow felt like photographing the ugly bits of Skopje, must be due to my heavy heart feeling the departure from such an intense time.
Kosovo. I only know a few songs which I absolutely love. I felt incredibly excited to venture into new territory, to a place with hugely difficult history and current affairs, with a mixture of various ethnicities, a place which rather than only a little fragment of Former Yugoslavia, seems somewhat of a cross-roads between the still-western Balkan music and influences from Albania, Turkey and further Middle East.
I only had two days left before my aeroplane back to London, time only to dip into one place for which I chose Prizren, which is not the capital, but a much older, much more atmospheric town with lots of Romany Mahallas. My friend Ragip, a Rom living in Germany, who had been born and grown up there, had brought me in touch with a journalist, a Rom too, who worked for the Kosovo state television. He was meant to sort me out with tourist guides, and a introduction into Kosovo Roma life and bring me in touch with some musicians.
He picked me up from the bus station and brought me to my hotel. Afterwards we went into town for a quick coffee and strategic meeting, and I was ‘’welcomed’ by a party atmosphere as in the worst tourist beach town. The whole centre is full of bars, all of them vibrating from loud music and kicking bass beats. O my god, where is the supposedly poor and deprived Kosovo, of which many people including natives have been telling me about, where life is so difficult and depressing. Those lifes may well exist somewhere hidden away, however, their existence was quite unbelievable when confronted with this very pulsating place.
I was introduced to a young Romani man, who was supposed to show to all that is to see of Romani culture in Prizren on the next day. That night I stuffed in my earplugs tight, struggling in vain to diminish those huge party noises and catch at least some sleep.