Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tirana, Albania

My expectations for Tirana were ... let's just say they were modest. Although there were many things I loved about our first post, I found life in Manila challenging. So when we were assigned to another hardship post--with a consumables shipment!--I kept my expectations in check.

And perhaps that is why I think everything here is just awesome. The air is clean, the food is fantastic, and my housing is relatively walkable. Most importantly, I can spend most of the day outside with my active toddler, and the only thing I have to worry about is the sun. (He's very, very, very fair, just like his Daddy, and won't wear hats, also like his Daddy.)

I'm well aware that Tirana and I are on our honeymoon, and in the coming months we'll have some fights, but the foundation of our relationship is solid. For pete's sake, I even fought with Arlington, so there's no avoiding the adjustment process, no matter how well a place meets your needs.

Although we've only been here two weeks, we've taken the opportunity to explore. Over the weekend, we joined our sponsors on a whirlwind road trip to Saranda, and earlier this week Kyle and I took a walking tour* of Tirana with other Mission newcomers.

*I'd like to take the opportunity to emphasize that we took a walking tour. We walked from Skanderberg Square to the Embassy, and more or less enjoyed the experience.

One of Hoxha's many paranoia bunkers, which are scattered throughout the country. This one is in its original location in downtown Tirana, and behind it is a piece of the Berlin Wall.

A promenade between city hall and the art museum.

Any road trip in Albania affords many opportunities for sightings of herds of road goats and cows.


The coastal road between Vlore and Sarande. Guard rails are for wimps.

In Sarande, your toddler can amuse himself by throwing rocks at Greece. Corfu is the island in the distance. As you drive farther south in Albania, the walls become white, the doors become blue, and the roadside memorials Christian.