by | Dec 26, 2006 | Abroad, General Ruminations

Related Categories: Abroad | General Ruminations
and tags: Albania | Granada.
Posts by: Brian

It’s been kind of fun, for me anyway, to watch the ads at the top of my blog page change.  This is a free blog, you see, hosted by the folks who host my website, so they can hang whatever ads they want to at the top.  Shortly after starting this thing, some ads popped up that I found particularly objectionable, so I called the GoDaddy folks to see what it would cost me to lose the ads completely.  For now, I’ll live with the ads.

These past few days I’ve been plugging the websites of the purveyors of Spanish foods.  Bots are behind it all, of course, scanning through my postings and looking for keywords.  Makes me wonder what I would get if I filled a page or two with words having to do with space aliens, or incontinence, or Albania.

There were two kids from Albania in my class at the school in Granada.  Many years ago I drove from London to Istanbul with some English friends, and we were fascinated by the appearance of Albania on the Michelin map.  Albania was gray.  The whole country.  No roads led into or out of it, and the Albanian cities, assuming there were any, were left to the imagination.  There was a note in our guidebook that explained as how Albania’s dictator, Hoxha, had sealed the place off from the rest of the world.  From what I’ve read about it since, it must have been an interesting place.  For instance, I’ve read that designers of military bunkers were required to sit inside the prototypes while artillery shells were fired at them during testing.

The Albanian kids were very proud of their newly-democratic country.  The cuisine, they said, was similar to that of Greece, but better, of course, and the same was true of the scenery.  One day in class we were talking about the employment situation in the various countries we hailed from.  Elvis (yes, that really was his name) was learning Spanish so he could find work as an auto mechanic, as there was very little work to be found back home.  But, he informed us proudly, if you started a business in Albania there was one thing that you didn’t have to worry about, and that was the protection-money racket.  Any other country in the world, he said, it might be a problem, but not in Albania.  And why not? we asked.  Because, he informed us, Albanian men were men, and if someone came by an Albanian business looking for a pay-off, he would only get beaten up for his pains.

On that trip to Istanbul we drove along the remarkably beautiful coastline of what was then Yugoslavia, right next to Albania, so it is easy to believe the tales the Albanians told of their country’s beauty.  I’d like to see for myself someday, but you’ll need to buy a lot more copies of The Great American Desert if you want to help make that possible.  In the meantime I’m still curious to see what kind of ads might appear if I post something with a lot of words having to do with Albania, such as Elbasen, Tirana, Durres, Mali Robit, Pirrogoshi cave, Dajti, Llogaraja, Dardha, Golem, Saranda, Bozdoveci, Voskopoja, Valbona, Thethi, Korça, Ohrid Lake, Durres Plazh, Berat, Gjirokastra, and the Onufri Museum.

Take that, advert bot.