Thursday, May 23, 2013

Week 8, Part II: "OBVIOUSLY."

Week 8 was great. And scary and intimidating and challenging and entertaining and exhausting and exhilarating and awkward and restful and stressful and fun. We began our adventure early Monday morning: 5 Americans with big duffel bags and camping back packs trying to flag down a furgon.* We made it to Elbasan (in the rain. the only rainy day in a month. obviously.) and met up with the rest of Group 16 for our trip to Tirana.

There are two ways to get to Tirana from Elbasan. The first way is the long way, where you go around the mountain that separates the two cities and drive along the coast for a bit, which takes two and a half hours. The second way is over the mountain on a narrow, twisty road filled with blind spots, 100-foot drops, no guardrails, and sheep. Thanks to impeccable Balkans logic, our giant tour bus took the second route. Obviously.

After surviving that, we got off in the outskirts of the city and walked to the Peace Corps Country Office. The office has a library and I took a book and may or may not have cradled it like a baby for a few minutes an hour. (House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende.) We got a tour there, and then took a stroll around the city. The most important landmark being the restaurant run by American missionaries where you can get Heinz's ketchup, milk shakes, bacon cheeseburgers, and guacamole.

 We also got to see some major Tirana landmarks, such as the pyramid. It was built by Enver Hoxha to be his mausoleum forever, a la the pharaohs. (Enver Hoxha was the dictator here from the end of WWII until his death in the mid-1980s.) Of course, after the fall of communism a few years later, it was abandoned and turned into a giant graffiti display.

We also checked out one of the open bunkers downtown. Albania has THOUSANDS of bunkers, and I'm not even kidding. Enver was obviously paranoid.

Yes, I put my camera in the rifle prop and "aimed" it at unsuspecting passerby. I'm easily entertained.

A part of the Berlin Wall, right here in Albania.

And of course, no tour is complete without awkward family photos (complete with a CARAMEL LATTE OMG CIVILIZATION IT WAS EXPENSIVE DELICIOUS.)

After the tours, we hopped back on our bus and headed to Durres to meet our counterparts. Also stay in a resort on the Adriatik Sea. But that's another story.

*Random side note: I've been getting a lot of flak for my WI accent lately. Some people (AHEM, DAN) have the gall to say my accent is the strongest in the group (SAYS THE GUY FROM JERSEY WHO SAYS "WUAH-DUH" INSTEAD OF "WATER" LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE). Now I'm super self-conscious about saying words like "bags" and "flag" because I don't want to sound like a hick. And then I go and say something like "Dohn't goh, my bayg is in my hammOCK with the flayg," and I may as well have a wheel of cheese and a W stamped on my forehead.


  1. Awkward family photos....always.

  2. Dohnt let that hohser from Jersey get to you, hey
    He's just jealous we got the Packers an he dohnt
    Oh Yah You Betcha
    Be safe