Arrival

We arrived in Tirana at about 11:30 AM Tuesday after an uneventful flight out of Dulles International Airport. &nbspAfter collecting our luggage, we were met by our sponsors from the embassy, Paula and Wakie (Political Officer and Management Officer, respectively), who brought us to our house. &nbspThe house is furnished, and there was a welcome kit with towels, dishes, etc., and Paula and Wakie had done some basic food shopping for us, so we were well-enough situated to start.

After looking around, Abby and I set out into the heat and dust of Tirana to look for some lunch. &nbspWe discovered quickly enough that the bar-kafes that line the streets only serve alcohol and coffee; they aren’t cafes. &nbspAfter walking for about 20 minutes, we ducked into the first sit-down restaurant we found that was open and looked decent, and shared a kebab with marinated cucumber. &nbspThen we walked back, and took a short nap – we were exhausted.

At 7:00, Paula and Wakie picked us up and we went to the Presidential Hotel for dinner. &nbspThe temperature had cooled down, so we ate on the rooftop. &nbspWe enjoyed the lights of Tirana until the black-out – KESH, the electric company, has been imposing 6-7 hour black-outs daily. Between the dependence on hyrdroelectric power, the heat, the drought, the increased load from air conditioners (which Albania did not have in abundance even a few years ago), and the faulty infrastructure, the system cannot support the load. &nbspThe government had promised that there would be full electricity available in 2007, but there has been little progress on this front. &nbspI’ll probably write more about this later. &nbspAt any rate, the major hotels and restaurants (and the embassy houses, fortunately) have generators, so we were able to finish our meal in ease and then drive home, and serenaded by the hum of the generators, we went to bed.