Updated: Jun 5, 2020
When I first arrived to live in Bajze, Albania, I wanted to know more about this charming mountain valley town. Much like the small town I grew up in pretty much everyone knows everybody or is related some how in Bajze.
History recap, the discovery of Bajze and settlement started after a solo rider became to weary and lost in the woods and stopped as he could not continue. He released the horse and prepared himself for eventual death. After the horse was released it began to paw/dig at a spot in the ground, the rider's attention to the horse's behavior forced his will to go and inspect. The horse had found a natural spring, this spring eventually became the town well and was locally called as the Cave of Frasher. The well is still active and present in the town today.
The area was settled by seven brothers and my husband is a direct descendant of one brother, Ivanaj. Bajze had it's share of epidemics through the years, it was abandoned twice due to snakes and once heat. And his family bloodline was nearly lost during the era of the Ottoman Empire, one family member was forced to serve for 20 years in the Ottoman military or be killed. It was this man that carried the Malaj line forward as the rest of his family sadly died in a cholera outbreak during his time served abroad.
The traditions, customs and language of the Albanian people are fascinating and I am learning more and more all the time. The language spoken here is Albanian, it is a beautiful language but also very challenging to learn. I understand slow conversations, can read and pronounce the language but the art of speaking still has my tongue tied. And before you suggest, there is not an app or software out there for learning Albanian so I have adopted the immersion and kid's books to start with the basics. I will write about some traditions and customs I have experienced and learned more about in a post soon.
When you drive through the city center of Bajze today it has a new small park, a variety of shops, cafe/bars (occupied by mostly men, this is not the norm in other towns just this one), the schools, and the catholic church. The northern region is mostly Catholic unlike the majority of Albania, which is Muslim or Orthodox. A cross is on display on various hills including the one directly behind our home on our land. After the fall of communism, it was important for this region to take back their faith. During Communism if religion was mentioned or you made the sign of the cross in public you could be punished or imprisoned. My husband learned the foundation of his faith behind drawn curtains and closed doors in his family home by his grandparents.