A Day in the Albanian Life
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.