I see that O.J. Simpson is back in the news. How nice that must be for all of you back in the States. Funnily enough, when I saw the Yahoo! headline Goldmans to Seek Simpson Memorabilia, I assumed they were collecting memorabilia from the movie. Like figurines of Homer or Spiderpig. At any rate, the papers here are filled with stories related to the arrest of the Vice-minister of Transportation and Telecommunications and eight others on charges of fraud, bribery, and misuse of power. I’m pleased to see that major cases of corruption are being reported on, but as the Albanians say, Ma nishtana.
So far, I’ve tried to share with all of you what it is like to be in Tirana. The photos from my earliest postings show you some of the architecture; and if you’ve ever played baseball in the summer in a sun-burned field, you probably know the sensation that we enjoy of hot, still air combined with the smell of dust; but what does being in Tirana sound like? This is the sound of downtown Tirana at 6:00 PM on a weekend:
And the small ones are relatively quiet. When the generators for the houses on our block start up, you could think you were in the truckers’ lot outside a Cracker Barrel.
As I’ve become more familiar with Tirana, I’ve begun to notice more things. For instance, there are grapes everywhere. People make their own raki, which oftentimes is better than anything you’d find in a bar.
Another interesting aspect to Tirana is the mixture, basically, of modern, state-of-the-art housing and shopping with abysmal infrastructure. For example, in the middle row you can see a fairly decent home furnishings shop, fronting an unpaved road and the overflowing garbage cans that serve as the central pick-up point for the neighborhood, and the modern-looking apartment building on an unpaved, trash-strewn street. Equally typical is this entrance to a less-than-modern-looking apartment building in the bottom row, which ironically leads onto a paved street. And, to complete the tableau, here is a less-than-modern neighborhood grocery, too, which is kind of charming, and the new Euromax Express grocery down the street hasn’t put it out of business yet.
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