The Strangest Summer Begins

It’s been almost a month since I last wrote and things have definitely changed including my location. At the end of May we were uncertain about whether or not we’d be able to travel to our home in Montenegro and it’s been a roller coaster of emotions and kind of stressful.

So to backtrack we finished our move into our new home in Marigona, and struggled to unpack and get settled as we finished up the school year. Our pool wasn’t working at first, but we made some progress on it. However, it was still too cold to swim! Our school year wound down, and we had a strange end to the year. Wishing goodbyes to friends we’d not see again from virtual meetings felt so unusual.

We made one failed attempt to get to Montenegro and it was heartbreaking. We packed up the car with all our belongings we’d need for the summer, and headed across Albania and made it all the way to our usual border crossing (3.5 hours of driving) to be turned away by a border guard who refused to let us pass because we were US citizens. We made one more attempt at a border crossing about an hour away, but again they said no. we then had the long 4.5 hour drive back to our home in Marigona. It was depressing to say the least. Not to mention stressful because they almost didn’t let us back into Kosovo because my resident card had expired (the offices had been closed due to COVID-19). It took us an entire week to unpack from the trip we never took, and our spirits were pretty low.

Fortunately, our pool was up and running, so we had a few pool parties with the new grill we got Donnie for Father’s day. We also went out for our first meal since before lockdown began! We had the usual spread at our neighborhood Te Halimi and even finished it with the most delicious tiny coffees. Donnie and I still had work to do, we’ve been working hard at recruiting new families to our school and it’s paying off! I just look forward to a day when Donnie doesn’t have to work all morning in meetings and emails.

Donnie was not willing to give up so easily on getting to our newly paid off property in Montenegro, so he got to work trying to solve the problem. First of all, we got Paul and my residence status sorted out in Kosovo, so that we wouldn’t have any problems coming back home. Then Donnie wrote up an affidavit that basically said that yes, we’re Americans, but no, we’ve not been in the US for over a year and that we are traveling to a property we own in Montenegro. We went and got it notarized and then gathered all our documents and half-heartedly packed up the car. We only brought half as much stuff, convinced that we’d be turned away again. We decided to take a different route, and drove up through the mountains to the Kosovo-Montenegro border (skipping Albania completely). It’s a much longer drive, but after examining our documents for 40 minutes, they said thank you and we drove away! It took another 6 hours (plus a 2 hour stop in Podgorica for dinner and grocery shopping) to get home. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we still had power, water, a clean house (minus some spiders) and working internet!

Donnie set to work immediately getting our pool sorted. It was a little bit green and filled with debris from around the yard. Within a day, we had people there installing a new pump, draining it and cleaning it. We also bought a hot tub! It’s an awesome inflatable one that seem to be pretty common here in Europe. We also got a new grill to meet our summer needs.

Our next project was to get work on renovating our kitchen. We met with a designer at a local furniture store, and then picked out all of the colors and cabinet design we wanted. He came and finished measuring, and it should be ready to install in about 3 weeks! We have some work to do before then, including replacing a window (it makes the counter too low) and taking out the old kitchen and backsplash.

And finally, Donnie organized the building of a deck behind our pool. It should be done in the next week or two. I’m looking forward to this deck the most, I think! Right now we have a temporary solution of adding a piece of fake grass on top of a tarp in our yard. It’s pretty ghetto fabulous.

The projects will continue, we have to figure out what to do with the rest of the yard, keep painting and decorating the inside of the house, and I am in constant battle with the bugs around the house and yard. I think Donnie also wants to build a new fence, but we’ll see. I actually want to do some relaxing before our summer is over!

Another improvement to our house is the road to it! They repaved the entire road from the bottom of the hill to the top and it’s glorious! It makes transit to and from the house so much easier, for those of you who remember the old road. I am so thankful for this!

One downside to this summer so far is that our friends and family can’t join us here. We bought this house to enjoy with the people we love and it seems as though US citizens still cannot travel. We have a small hope that our friends from Hungary can join us, but I was really looking forward to having Andie and Ben here as well. Hopefully all of this will be over soon and we can share Montenegro with our loved ones in the near future. For now, we’ll keep making it better for when that time comes.

In the meantime, I fill my time with morning runs down by the beach and up our gigantic hill, a new puzzle, Marvel movies (in chronological order!), making epic Lego creations with Paul and helping Donnie with work. Oh and some really fun pool parties. I hope that we get to the beach sometime in the next few days. It’s warming up and not crowded yet, so I want to take advantage of the space on the beach!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! We had a low key, super chill pool day. Donnie did some projects that made him happy so it was a good day. And I got to talk to my dad.:)

I will try to update as our projects get done, but they will be staggered in such a way that it will probably be August before everything finishes. So begins the strangest, loneliest summer!

I hope everyone is safe and sound, and know that I miss everyone immensely. ❤

Much love to all, J

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