Friday, January 28, 2011


As far as I can tell, the protest/eulogy this afternoon went off without any major trouble. Looking down on the street below I could see that some shops were closed, but others stayed open, including the produce stand just below our building. I thought I heard a couple shots once, but it was nothing like last weeks volleys. We have plans to see some friends tomorrow morning so it seems like daily life, for us anyway, is going more or less back to normal.


Not too long after we got here, I was trying to describe to somebody why Tirana feels so safe to me. I said " you don't get the feeling that people are watching you," in contrast to many other big cities I've been in. Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, Bolivia, feel fairly safe too, but in the markets and on certain streets you still have to watch out for pickpockets. I don't think you do here.

I mean, people stare at you, but that's not the same thing. It's a gaze of curiosity, as though they saw someone walking down the street with two heads (granted, that's what it looks like when I have Gabriel zipped up in the Bjorn inside my fleece) or a talking bear or something. It's not that furtive, calculating look you get when someone is sizing you up as a potential mark.

Add to that the exuberant friendliness people show towards small children and their caregivers, and it just feels safe. I really don't think we'd ever be the targets as individuals of acts of violence, I mean taking ordinary precautions that you would anywhere.


It is strange that Albania has no experience of violence from soccer hooligans, or from anarchists and extremists attacking the police. There are rumours of extreme Islamists, but nothing serious has happened yet among them. Albania’s only extremism is in its conventional politics, in politics that doesn’t differ much in terms of a political agenda, or in terms of love of bribes, but which still has the ability to mobilize big crowds to fight.

I'm glad this afternoon was largely calm.

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