Sunday, July 24, 2011


Friday was an exciting day here in Tirana.   Not only did our household goods finally arrive but we also had our internet service connected at the house.  Either of these sounds like simple enough endeavors, and they would be in the United States, but here in Albania, that is just not the case.

First, lets begin with the internet saga.  It seemed like a simple enough request.  We wanted to have internet, satellite television, and phone service connected at the house.  Abcom, the local internet company, had recently expanded its broadband service to our neighborhood and was offering a three-in-one package for internet, phone, and television service.  We decided this was the way to go since we needed a phone line and internet service and having access to local television would allow us to hone up on our Albanian language skills while keeping abreast with what is happening in the country.

The white wire on the right is our cable connection to the house
The first hiccup came about early on when using a translator, Glenn contacted the local Abcom office.  In Albania, instead of receiving a monthly bill for services, you sign either a six or twelve month contract then pay the full amount owed up front before service can be activated.  Sounds simple enough, right?  The previous tenants in our house had paid through October for a slower internet connection.  Abcom tried to convince us that we should just wait until the end of their contract before switching to the new service.  When we insisted that we wanted the new service we entered into a two week long cat and mouse game of waiting to "see if they could a create a new contract", "finding our address" (a street address didn't work but saying we were the house behind the Turkish Embassy did), and "waiting for our payment to clear" ( For some reason an electronic transfer from the bank is hard to track).   Since there is the language barrier, this resulted in a lot of playing phone tag and at least one day of my sitting in the house waiting for the installers to show up.  We've never had such a hard time getting a company to take our money.  Finally, on Friday morning, at the same time as our long awaited household goods were being delivered, two young men in a new Mercedes showed up to install our service.  (The technicians are freelancers who drive their own vehicles and service specific neighborhoods.  If we ever have a connection problem we call the technician directly).  They drilled a few holes in the wall of the house, snipped off old wires and left them hanging, and hung new ones and sure enough we are now reconnected with the world.  The installation methods might be a bit shaky, but this is the fastest connection we have ever had.

While we were being reconnected with the outside world, our household goods finally arrived.  They traveled a long route from DC to Norfolk, VA to Rotterdam, to Malta, and finally to Durres, Albania.  We had initially been told that they would arrive in country a full 10 days earlier than planned so we excitedly began making preparations for their arrival.  It was too good to be true since upon arrival in Durres, the crane in the port broke.  Yes, our household goods sat in the port for close to two weeks waiting for the crane to be fixed.  They were so close but so far and we had visions of our consumable shipment melting and fermenting in the hot Adriatic sun.

In the midst of unpacking 
But at last, the crane was repaired, our worldly goods cleared customs, and arrived via truck at 9:00 am sharp on Friday morning.  The efficient crew of five wasted no time unloading the truck and had all five crates emptied with boxes in the correct rooms within two hours.  This was no small feat since our house is three stories tall.  Glenn and I, with the help of our housekeeper who has the stamina of the Energizer bunny, unpacked, washed, and put away every last item.  We even unpacked boxes that were never unpacked during our Norfolk to DC move.  I had forgotten we had some of the things I found in the boxes.  (Maybe this is a sign that we need to simplify??)  The amount of paper produced would shock even the least environmentally friendly person.  I found that each piece of silverware had been individually wrapped yet my Simon Pearce bowl filled with fake apples was wrapped as a single unit.  (Come to think of it, the last set of movers did the same thing with the centerpiece). The total damage was two broken IKEA champagne glasses which is pretty impressive given the distance they traveled.
So now we are settled in and becoming reacquainted with our belongings.  Sidney is rediscovering toys he has forgotten about and I once again have knives that actually slice through vegetables.  Glenn has acquired two new remote controls and is figuring out the new channel line up on T.V.  Yes, we just might be settled in.  For the next 22 1/2 months that is.  Then we get to pack everything up again and move onto our next adventure!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! I just might have seen your container when I was touring the port in Rotterdam...I was guessing at the time that your stuff was probably somewhere there.