A Day in the Albanian Life

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Albania is described in history books, encylopedias, even here on the internet. Information, statistics and pictures all can give facts about the country. But as is with all types of information, none exists better than that attained first hand.

I spent time in the capital of Albania, a short time in which I began to develop a routine. The day is not an exercise in excitement, but for those who wish to see more than facts and pictures, here is my diary of a normal day in Albania.


The Morning

4:00 am:
Windup alarm rings, reminding me that if I want hot water at 6:30, I better get up now to set it to a low boil because the water only works at 4:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. I set it to warm, go back to bed.
5:30 am:
Wake up, drink a glass of boiled water(hot, dry air makes me thirsty). Go to outside porch overlooking city, work out with a train car axle that doubles as a curl bar and bench press for the needy.
6:15 am:
Take a shower. Shower consists of sitting in a bathtub and pouring the buckets of water I had warmed earlier overmyself.
6:30 am:
Eat a breakfast of cookies, milk,tea, coffee, eggs, and byrek my host mother has made for me. Host sister grills me on my Albanian language skills.
7:00 am:
Leave for class, a half-hour walk that brings me through pesky gypsies, liquor drinking police, Mercedes at full-speed, and burning trash. Vendors I have made friends with offer me shots of raki or coffee. Sometimes I take both.
8:00-12:00:
Begin four hours of language class, each day sanity is at a breaking point as I adjust to the never ending classes, new time schedule, and lack of sleep.

The Afternoon

12:00-1:00 pm:
Lunch consisting of either meat between 2" thick pieces of bread, chocolate spread between bread, or eggs between bread. American Coca-Cola tastes like gold more and more everyday.
1:00-5:00 pm:
Teach English class to high schoolers. Elaborately thought-out lesson plans only last 10 minutes of a 40 minute class. Spend rest of class talking about Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone, or soccer.
5:00-6:00 pm:
Grab a pizza and beer. Talk of going AWOL always exists with some of the volunteers. Germany, Italy, Turkey all are brought up as viable options.

The Evening

6:00-11:00 pm
Drink at local bar Cafe Billiardo. Some of us made friends with the owner, so now we are offered seats, fans, and drink specials. Sometimes I am given rides home in his BMW.
11:00 am
When I am not given a ride home, it is customary with the violence in the city for the male volunteers to walk home the women. Gypsies still pester while confrontations with locals occur sporadically.
12:00 am
Sleep comes easily in a tiny bed with a Patsy Cline tape to soothe the sounds from the streets.

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