Home > 2011 Posts > Albanian Dawn

Albanian Dawn

The contrast was striking. To port, the old harbor of Corfu on the Greek island of Kerkira, was lovely in its pre-dawn blaze of city lights and medieval battlements. To starboard, the Albanian coast was pitch black against a brightening sky. No lights. Not one. In the 21st century.

A View in Corfu

The jarring difference between Greece and Albania reminded me of a satellite photo I’d seen of the Korean peninsula at night. That image and this reality were like seeing the black and white adjacent squares on God’s chessboard. How can so many of us Westerners be so deeply clueless and dismissive about what we have and why?

The Two Koreas

I later met a charming, young Albanian waitress named Mirjeta in Florence and asked her about what I saw. She said that it was the Albanian norm outside the capital, Tirana, and even for many people inside that city. “Why do you think I studied Italian and English like a crazy girl in school? I just serve food here, but I live better than anyone else I know back home.”

I was happy for her. She was sweet and funny and good at her work. Her story had absolutely no weight in my choice to be a Crude American and leave a bit tip. None at all.

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