Sunday, September 26, 2010


Veze (there's supposed to be an umlaut over the second e)

On Thursday, I went to the corner grocery near our place to buy eggs. There was a whole big deli section full of meats and cheeses and olives of all kinds, but look high and low as I might I could find no eggs. Terry had said there were eggs there, so finally I approached the man behind the counter and said "eggs?" I pointed to a display of chocolate eggs hoping this might help facilitate communication.

"Chocolat," he said.

"Um... real eggs? Huevos?" I tried. "Eggs?"

The light bulb went on: "Ah! Veze! Jo, jo," he shook his head no, and reached behind the counter for a sample - a cracked egg. So, no eggs for breakfast on Saturday, but I had the satisfaction of communicating at least.

All Forlorn

We were walking home through the nearest park the other day and saw a little guy, maybe 8 years old, asleep in the middle of the sidewalk on a flattened piece of cardboard. His clothes and skin were dirty and he was very thin. He was fast asleep as people walked past, stepping carefully around him. There was a bag of popcorn by his head. (Now, writing this, all I can think of is the other guys who weren't the Good Samaritan.)

We've been told that during the communist era one didn't see this kind of abject poverty, nor the concentrations of wealth that exist now either. Not that Tirana strikes me as a hugely wealthy city - we went through the posh district and it was quite modest compared to Lima, or even Santa Cruz (Bolivia).

It was heartbreaking. I guess it's also why we're here.

"Breast Is Best" In Albania

Saturday afternoon we took the family out for our daily jaunt around the city, and walked to an extensive wooded park next to a lake. A wide brick road curved up over a hill past a snack kiosk; joggers and grandmothers pushing strollers passed us both ways. A group of old men sat on stumps in a circle playing cards while others lounged lakeside in their skivvies. It was a pleasant place, and Valerie had the time of her life playing with a small dog on a leash held by an indulgent gentleman.

On the way back, Gabriel started fussing and I realized he was hungry, so I sat down on a park bench to nurse him while Terry took Valerie to buy a snack. I wondered what Albanians might think of public breastfeeding but figured what the heck, I KNOW I look like a foreigner so hopefully they'll just avert their eyes if it bothers them. We settled in, listening to the sound of Michael Jackson classics ("Billie Jean," mostly) piped over a loudspeaker at what I surmised was a birthday party nearby. Nobody seemed put out by the fact that a baby was taking his repast in the park. Then a tall, tanned and toned couple walked by, maybe in their early 50s, and the man leaned in to say "Bravo! Bravo!"

"Thank you," I said, and he added in accented English, "is the best thing!" and gave me a thumbs-up.

Pictures coming soon - I put a lot up on Facebook but I'll get some up here too. They just take a long time to load on blogger for some reason.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I love reading about other countries, I have been so sheltered here.

The boy sleeping in the park makes me kind of sad. I hate that all children don't get to live carefree lives.

I'm glad you had a safe trip over, I hope you are able to settle into a routine quickly.