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ponchi101

Logbook to the middle ages. XIII

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Albania is in Europe but not the Europe we know. Not only in time as stated previously, but there is a cultural issue that separates them. You could never mistake Albania for Germany or Scandinavia.
There are severe cultural differences in the country. For example, there is a disregard for the law that I recognize easily as I live in Latin America and the concept that the law applies to others but not one is not unknown to me. The man in the bus that collects the fare openly smokes as he performs his duty despite the many clear signs that smoking is forbidden in the bus. Nobody says anything and simply let him be as most Albanians will smoke in closed spaces, the restaurants not even at the stage that there are non-smoking sections. If you want to enjoy your pizza without the smell of a cigarette you have to move a bit away from there. Greece, for example.
At the bus there are other examples. There is no way that anybody will respect that the front door is the one to enter, the two large ones in the center are there to exit. Upon stopping the doors will open and people outside will pour in through both. Which is another Non-European thing: Albanians have not reached the stage of understanding that if you let the people IN out first it will be more comfortable for everybody. The consequent tug at the small opening is therefore impossible to avoid.
Albanians still have a long way to go regarding hygiene. They have no quarrels with dropping that ice cream wrap on the floor and, one of my most detested peeves, open the window of their car and throw out that can of Coke of the plastic bottle of water. One day, doing some environmental training, I retell a story from a long time ago. In another backwater place in my life, a local worker asked the supervisor that was very upset with him for throwing out a plastic bottle what the big deal was. “This is not even your country” the culprit said. To which my friend replied “yes, it is not my country. But it is my planet”. I frown and continue as if nothing when I see Albanians ruin their country in such way but inside I boil wishing for a sub machine gun.
There is no tipping in the country and when I break that rule I get the most wonderful smiles from the (invariably) young women that have treated me so kindly. And people have a tendency to go scorched earth easily, as I witness a couple of encounters in which a simple comment degenerates into a competition of who can wave his hands in the air the fastest.
I can see cars that are simply not suitable to be on the road or that other strange contraption of the third world, the basket-cycle, the back part of a motorcycle attached to some mechanically deficiently engineered basket with two wheels on the side, riding on the side of the road with the basket full of hay or something else. I have also seen, again, the motorcycle with the full family on it. I have not seen the record of six people on a bike (Pop, Mom, Grandma and three kids, in Syria) but I have seen four. Which is circus enough.
It is Europe. And I keep repeating it but it is not yet there at the stage of joining the EU or NATO or anything. And I cannot compare because I have not been in Greece or Southern Italy or Montenegro or anywhere near, but it seems to me that it is incredible to belief that the Mediterranean was once the center of the world.
But us people of Latin blood missed on some genes. And being one of them, one of us, I can say it: sometimes we prove we are not up to a standard. Whichever it may be.

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Updated 09-08-2019 at 07:13 AM by ponchi101

Tags: albania, berat, dirt, trash
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  1. GlennHarman's Avatar
    Another fascinating entry. I spent 5 weeks in Greece in 1979, and this description of life is very similar to what I saw there then. So maybe Albania is just 40 years behind, as was discussed in another note.

    GH