This is the last post from Albania. After a week here, I think some conclusions can be made. First, there’s no reason not to come here for a holiday. Europeans have found it, and Asians are beginning to. Travel groups criss-cross it, and big cruise ships and small sailboats can be found on its beautiful coastline.
The food is great, and there’s plenty of it. Every restaurant seems like your favorite grandmother’s house, and you should count on getting too much to eat and drink. Families are still big here, and most remember the times when there was not enough to go around. And there’s lots of fresh and clean water.
So, while the world is not panicked from economic recession or terrorist attacks, Albania should do fine. There’s money to be made here, and a country that wants to do right for its citizens. Hooray for the country of eagles, protected by teddy bears.
Second, let go of this stereotype of Albanians as thugs from a backward land. Instead, look at them as survivors of just about every form of institutional abuse, now struggling to emerge and show the world who they really are. They’ve endured centuries of sultans, kings, and dictators.
And remember that Albania contributed far more than its share of bright and courageous leaders to other countries. Greece, Rome, Cairo, and Istanbul owe their success to Albanian homeboys who led their armies and settled into their statehouses.
Tomorrow, we cross the border into the Former Republic of Macedonia. In the next five days, we’ll try to learn all that we can about another country hardly any of us can locate on a map.
To see the photos taken during the last two days, click on: