2 Weeks Remaining

May 5th, 2008

We are down to 2 weeks left in country and the goodbye fests have begun. There is a joke here that in America it is work, work and sleep, in Europe it is work, sleep and fun, in Albania it is fun, fun, fun. They definitely like to have their fests. These events usually involve a 3-4 hour meal with some singing and, if room permits, dancing. Read the rest of this entry »

Measuring Progress in Copper

April 24th, 2008

It has been amazing to see the changes in Durrës over the past two years. When we mention to residents that things are changing quickly, they don’t believe us and so we start listing the changes we have seen. This of course just leads to the conversation of Read the rest of this entry »

Value of Civil Society

April 12th, 2008

In 2007, the United Nations released a report “The Wealth of Nations” in which economists tried to account for the wealth of a nation or economy. What they discovered is that for wealthy nations, over 50% of its wealth is comprised in its institutions – courts, legal system, education system and political system. These systems are the keystones that allow civil society to function. Read the rest of this entry »

Tragedy in Gerdec

April 4th, 2008

On March 15, 2008 at approximately 12:15pm, there was an accident at a munitions depot in Gerdec which was destroying old ammunition. This accident resulted in a series of explosions – the largest registering 2.5 on the rector scale was heard and felt 20 km away. The number of dead and the extent of property damage are still unknown. (Unofficial count: 27 dead, 300+ injured, 300 house destroyed, 2000+ houses damaged). Read the rest of this entry »

Library Patron

March 29th, 2008

As Carol continues her exemplary service at the Durrës library, she is continually surprised by reactions from the patrons. Just the other day, a woman came in and Carol was at the front desk by herself. The woman wanted to open a new library card. The conversation went like this, except in Albanian: Read the rest of this entry »

Suffled how it gush

March 23rd, 2008

Tepelena is a small town south of Durrës which produces bottled water. This water has been approved for distribution into the European Union marketplace and is a good product of Albania. But we not writing to tell you Albania can bottle water to EU standards. No, if you look at the label below, circled in yellow is an interesting bit of English.

suffled Read the rest of this entry »

Munitions Depot Explosion

March 17th, 2008

Saturday noon, we were sitting outside with an Albanian friend and we heard the distant boom and felt the concussion, but did not give it much of a thought, just figured it was some construction work. About 30 minutes later we start getting phone calls from Peace Corps asking if we were ok, they had heard there was a bad accident near Durres. We turned on the TV and saw the accident was at a munitions depot, about 20 miles east of Durres in the village of Gerdec. While destroying old munitions there was a accident which set off a series of explosions. There are 12 confirmed dead, 200+ injured, but they have not been able to search the plant remains yet. Rumorss have the company overseeing the destruction of the munitions being an American firm, but it seems the American companies finished their contract in December, 2007. At this time, not much is known.

Here is the YouTube edited footage. In the original footage, the camera-person was knocked down by the concussion and that has been edited out of this take. At the end, there are links to additional footage of the area and the destruction.

and here is the original footage……


Glass half ?

March 14th, 2008

Seeing half a glass of water……

Some people say the glass is half empty
Some people say the glass is half full

A Peace Corps Volunteer looks at it and says …
That’s a bath!

Albania – Last Chance!

March 7th, 2008

Can you believe it has been over 2 years since Criss & Carol left the US for Albania? Can you believe NONE of you have crossed the pond to bring us tortilla chips or cheddar cheese? (We have had 3 come for a visit and we really appreciated that!) Well, here is one last opportunity. For the next 53 days, we will offer anyone showing up with a bag a tortilla chips up to 5 nights stay – absolutely free. With your DELUXE accommodations of sleeping on an air mattress on the floor (most guest have not complained), you will get a personalized guided tour of Durres and the surrounding area, a complete, detailed history of Skanderberg (the Albanian who successfully fought the Turks and gave Albania its only 30 year period of freedom) and other valuable experiences as they unfold.

Now we have have had 3 guests visit so far and they have enjoyed at least some part of their stay. So take advantage of this last minute “we are clearing out” offer.


March 3rd, 2008

We have tired on several occasions to describe the transportation here, but a verbal description just does not capture the experience and so it has been delayed and delayed. But what would a blog on Albania be without discussing the furgons? We must try.

What is a furgon?

waiting in furgon Read the rest of this entry »