Into the Land of Mosques
Trip Start Aug 31, 2007
90Trip End Apr 19, 2008
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I set off first for the Sarena Djamija mosque. The town is full of mosques as the majority of the Albanians are Muslim. The mosque would have been quite easy to find, if Lonely Planet knew the difference between left and right (there is no map, so I'm following their written directions) and if the Albanians believed in street signs
Eventually, I manage to make it back to the main square and procure directions from a trio of friendly taxi drivers. The mosque, built in 1459 with money from two women, Mensure and Hurshida, who are buried on the grounds, is one of the finest pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. The exterior is a mixture of wood and painted while plaster, and the courtyard is filled with men washing their feet before filing in to pray. As mosque-type things seem to be going on inside, and I am unsure of protocol, I elect not to enter.
The second site I visit in Tetovo is the Baba Arabati tekke, a dervish monastery on the edge of town. Surrounded by a stone wall, the grounds exude relaxation and meditation as I stroll among the 18th century prayer halls, lodgings, and dining areas. As with the mosque, there are many men here praying, while some children also play in the grounds. I see a girl of no more than seven, running about in a bright green head scarf, and I wonder if she ever questions why she wars one and I do not, or if she even cares.
It is time to go, and I make my way towards the bus station. At 3:02, the bus to Skopje approaches me. I stick out my arm and flag it down, paying the driver as I board. I am getting better at this.