May 19, 2013 by theloneblonde
This week I have been all over Albania! First we went to Tirane (the capitol) for a few hours before we went off to Durres for our Counterpart Conference, and then I went to visit my new site!
Tiranë is the capitol of Albania, and till this day I have only been to the airport! So we finally got to explore as they let us out of the villages to see what the big city if like! They have some great urban art, amazing (yet a little over my PC budget) food, and some interesting relics of the former communist past. It’s also where our main office is after training.
To leave Elbesen (our training city) and to go to Tirana you have a few options, the first is to take a helicopter (kidding this is not really an option, because I believe there are only five helicopters in the country). The next is to go around the mountains, and through Durres and then to Tirana on the nice road, which takes way more time then just going through the mountains. The next best option, and if you are short on time, is to just go up and over the mountains around one of the most treacherous roads I have been on and that is saying a lot. It’s up through the mountains winding and and at some points it goes straight up, and we did this in a big ole’ tour bus… with two PC escorts just in case well the breaks went out (this would not be the first time for me). The road itself does not have guard rails, but it does have unparlled natural beauty between chuches and mosque a top the hills at the bottom and cheery trees as you go up everywhere then the rock faces on the way down! Sadly this will be one of the last times anyone will ever travel the road, as it’s like driving through the clouds, in a few weeks they will be opening up a tunnel (a very very long tunnel). This tunnel will cut the travel time between Elbesen and Tirana by well almost all the time! It will be about 15-25 min between the two cities (rumored). The tunnel is supposed to be done in the next few weeks, as it is close to election season it will be considered a development victory, if they actually finish it?
Like I said, urban art! I am a real sucker for parks with art, it comes with being an urbanist (that’s apparently what I am in Albania, though every time I am asked I tell them different things about what I studied, because I can translate it about 8 ways). This is a brand new park dedicated to the communist history of Albania, this is a piece of the Berlin Wall that was given as a gift to Albania. There is also a bunker and some relics of a work camp that was in Albania.
This is the pyramid. It is one of the daily reminders of communism in Tirana. It was the museum and to be the tomb of the former long time dictator. It was a museum dedicated to him, and well communism fell and ended pretty poorly. He also died and was buried in an unmarked grave in the middle of no where. So today it stands as an eyesore and a reminder, where people climb it, deface it, and then throw beer bottles off the top (maybe not the best idea).
It’s one of the things you have to do to scale the pyramid, sans defacing it and throwing beer bottles off the top. My group mates decided to run up the pyramid which gets steeper at the top, and on the way down well chances are the entire city saw my underwear (whoops, don’t wear a dress life advice for me). One of my friends has pictures of me trying to go up and down, I will find them soon!
So this is funny. Molla and AFC. This is Capitalism in Albania. Molla means Apple, and that would be the fake apple store, and AFC is Albanian Fried Chicken. Yes, Molla and AFC. Albania is not one for the chains, so they have their own versions. Worth a chuckle.
SO this was the view from the meeting room of the conference I was at! Sometimes Peace Corps Albania is happens to be called the “Posh Corps” or the “Beach Corps” well this may be the reason. Because this is where our counterpart conference happens to be, on the beach! I took three showers, it was awesome, though it was a little broken…
So alright our beach resort had an interesting past, if you can see the white buildings those were the rooms and they were once the resorts of the good communist leaders for vacations.
Megan and I trying to take a picture in the water… we were really excited
Masha and Megan were more excited!
Counterpart Dinner, next to me on the right is my Counterpart, Kranaur, who I will be working with for Tourism and Registration in our city.
This is my new city, as I was coming around the mountain on the bus. It’s built up on a mountain and I live on the top part and work on the bottom of that hill. There are two rivers that meet and used to be a big industrial town during the time of communism. It used to have a bunch of weapons factories, and now they are still there but empty.
About 1/4 of the stairs up the mountain. These are a little far from my place, but if I want to take the stairs rather then scale the mountain, it may be for the best.
The other side of the mountain, the road down to my office
The Bashkia (my office), which is located at the bottom of the mountain I share an office with the Urban Planning, who will be retiring, and with the city architect It will be a very interesting time for our city because we will able to start planning permissions in August! I will have plenty of stories about my office, as pretty much it is straight out of 1965, I will have stories sometime soon!
The waterfalls of Bagova, I hiked here with some students on their senior class trip. It was really amazing!
The Senior class on their hike! They will graduate right when I get there, and I was invited to their prom as well! Should be a great time!
That’s all for now, I am sure I will have some stories in the coming weeks! PST is winding down and I only have TWO more language classes before the big language test!!! And only a week and a half until swearing in! My office knows I start work on June 3, and I am to show up ready to work because we have a lot of things to do!