Diary trip-First day in Albania

IMG_20171019_083722018We arrived in Athens after 10 hours on the plane overnight, but I was not able to sleep. We had to wait 5 hours to get the plane for Albania. Girls slept on the plane and they are sleeping on the couch at the airport. I wanted to do it now, but I need to open my eyes for the luggage. Eh, responsibility! I can’t trust easily. Spotted Jews in Athens airport…. So many French speakers here, I don’t know where they are going. Free WiFi and everyone here on their phones. I am thinking about the girl at the Toronto Airport with Quran in her hand. As she was waiting for the same plane, crazy thoughts came through my mind: what if she is a terrorist. She is reading Koran publicly, on purpose as she was holding up. It was in fact a Study Koran. Super thick. I didn’t knew that Muslims had Study Koran, I thought only Christians are so zealous to study their book. She had a light dark skin, with a piercing in her nose, with tight jeans drinking her Tim Horton. I wanted to sit next to her and start a conversation, but for some reason I didn’t. I was thinking that it has been a long time, since I saw a person reading the Bible in public.

Athens airport was tiny to compare with the Pearson. I told my wife that it looked like a village airport. For sure I was not humble saying that, but I felt so good walking around as a Canadian. As we were waiting at the gate in the last minute it was announced that we need to go to another gate. Knowing the discrimination Albanians have had from Greeks in the past, I thought if is this was part of that too. All the plane was full with Albanians. 45 minutes was nothing to compare with the 10 hours we just did.  We landed and were headed at the gate for Foreign citizens with at least 50 other Albanians. Through some delays without any problem we were able to enter in the tiny airport. Since last time I observed changes. Taxi drivers were not disturbing us to go with them. It was a paid parking lot where our driver had parked. We used the two-lane highway to drive to my wife home-city. The driver told us stories of things that have improved, but in the same time having no hope that Albania is going int he right direction. Corruption is the main thing that has creeped-in every aspect of life.

Lushnja is a city with an agricultural past. The main boulevard where cars were not allowed to drive and people were hanging out, was lightened beautifully.

I walked in the afternoon, and it was so vivid the presence of the male population. In the main square the third age were playing in groups – cards, chess and other games. At the bars other men in middle age with a coffee in front of them were talking or watching TV. It is very usual that on a table group half of people can afford having a coffee and others don’t – specially if they have been sitting there for hours and had one when they arrived. At other places you could see young men who might having some cold beer. I entered at the shopping mall in the city centre and my in-laws boast on this investment. It gave the city some modern touch. They had their store with kids clothes. I checked with all the stores in the floor and no buyers for at least half hour I was there. “People are poor”-they don’t have money to spend, so it is difficult to sell quality -more expensive clothes. It was evening when we came back home and was rare to see women outside. Further the city center, less lights were on the street. My in-laws live 5 minutes walking from the centre and no lights in the road for half the way-unless some beam from the houses on the road. We used lights from cell-phones, but were looked like strangers by passerby neighbors who all walked in the dark. “Careful on the steps” told me my brother in law-they might be slippery.” He told to the neighbors to contribute together to fix the stairs of the apartment building, but none wants to. Everywhere in these apartments is a challenge to fix anything as none wants to be responsible outside their apartment. No management companies and people have the old mentality of “the state responsibility”. I’m going to sleep with a headache, almost two days without sleep.

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