|Early in our Albanian tenure; we were all younger, thinner, and|
had more hair (I was even a red head)
Today, after 952 days, we are departing Albania for what is likely to be the last time. The past few years have been a wild ride filled with ups and downs, great joy and crushing heartbreak, adventure filled weekends and lazy days of doing nothing, long work hours and too many responsibilities. We've made life long friends and met people we hope to never see again. Our little boy arrived as a baby and is departing as a worldly, bilingual four year old. We've visited twenty-three European countries (some multiple times) yet managed to explore Albania's natural beauty from north to south, east to west. (In fact, we've probably seem more of Albania than many of our Albanian friends). We've explored more castle ruins than I even thought was humanly possible and walked in places that seem trapped in a previous time. I quickly discovered the importance of investing in a good pair of shoes, always carrying my own toilet paper, and never leaving home without both a hand held fan and a sweater. I've learned to improvise with my cooking, to always watch where I step, and that embassies, street dogs, farm animals and overflowing dumpsters can happily co-exist on a single street (namely ours). I've had it reaffirmed time and time again that I really do not care for offal, raki, or Albanian wine but have never tired of the plethora of fresh fish, figs, and other seasonal delicacies. My defensive driving skills have been honed and I been amazed time and time again at what can be made out of concrete, but I still can't decipher whether a bobbing head means yes, no, or a little of both.
We've grown and matured and we've seen Albania grow right along with us; new roads, many with actual pavement, have reduced travel times from one end of the country to another; new shopping malls, movie theaters, and grocery stores have all introduced a variety of services and amenities to the country inching Albania one step closer to her western contemporaries. But through all of this the house across the street from us remains as occupied and unfinished as the day we arrived while the number of old Mercedes, battered furgons, and over the top expensive vehicles plying the roads has drastically increased. During the past two and a half years airlines have come and gone, we witnessed national elections and a new government come to power, and are watching Albania's ongoing quest to be welcomed into the EU. From The New York Times
to Lonely Planet,
travel writers continue to rate Albania as an up and coming place to visit. (And, in my opinion, Albania is well worth a visit). Yes, the past two and a half years have been quite the adventure.
So what does the future hold for us? For sure, there will be more adventures, more memories to be made and new opportunities to be had. This blog will continue with the same URL but a new name. (I'm testing out names so if you have any suggestions, please send them my way). So stay tuned to find out what the future holds for us!
|Our most recent family picture; we are all older and|
wiser but still enjoying our adventures
Having lived overseas, I totally understand the connections you can feel to a place and people in just a few years. Enjoy your next adventure!ReplyDelete
What a beautiful summary of your experience. You have enriched my life - just reading about your adventures and daily life in Albania! Thank you so much for sharing. Enjoy your move and yes, I look forward to someday soon meeting, in person, a fellow MHC alum!! Best of luck to you as you head off to your next adventure on this road called life!ReplyDelete