It is one thing to go to Greece and see antiquities and still know that for the most part we were in the 21st century. Albania seems in many respects to be still trying to get into the late 20th century. The buildings that are later than the 1930s are from the 60s. The roads are clearly no later than the 1950s, with some few exceptions. Many are no better than paved cart tracks. The standard of living is so low it is scary. We went to dinner several times on our own and spent $10 to $20 for the two of us with wine and high priced items. A high end marketing person for the hotel makes the equivalent of $400 a month. Those dinners are far beyond their means. The average pay is about $250 a month.
Internet is readily available almost every place! Open wifi seems standard. Security not so much. Cellular service is also everywhere and everyone is using mobile phones. The hotel can’t seem to make up is mind on how to dial room to room. The instructions vary depending on the floor and don’t work anyhow because they are wrong. All the people we have met have been very friendly and accommodating. They are happy to practice their English on us.
As I write the muezzin from the mosque on the main square is calling the faithful to prayer for the last prayers of the day, 9:37 pm, we will hear it next at 4:30 am of we are awake.
On the main boulevard is a pyramid. It was built to be a tomb for Enver Hochsha (sp) but he was never buried there. There have been several plans to use the building. Since the Democratic Party lost to the Socialists all plans have been scheduled and the building has been left to degrade and suffer graffiti and broken windows. We have watched locals scaling the ramps to the top every time we have gone by. It is a huge eyesore on the boulevard not to far from the Grand Hotel which served the area during the communist period. It To had been abandoned to the elements.
I could go on with contrasts, but one more. As we drove by a major cement factory with heavy equipment, we saw a local riding standing up on the cart behind his donkey, this was not tourist item, we were not within miles of anything touristic. Which century were we in?