Behind Blue Eyes – A Week In Albania

Edited by: Enrico Mancini emancinimail@gmail.com

Where: Albania. Tirana, Pogradec, Korce, Voskopoje, Elbassan.

Photo by: Enrico Mancini

Translation assistent: Bianca Baroni

Crane

This is a brief report of a recent trip to Albania that took place from 31st of December to 7th of January.

On the 28th of November 2012 Shqipëria (literally “Land of the Hawks”) celebrated  its 100th year of independence from the Ottoman Empire with great festivities.

The streets of Tirana were filled with double-headed hawks on a red background flags, and the new year’s eve was just the icing on a cake.

Crane Far

 We didn’t really know what to expect when we were about to visit this country and, candidly, the first impression from the taxi wich took us in the streets of the capital wasn’t that great.

The diffuse sense of apathetic to everything that is common, or public, is really ordinary in all of the ex communist countries, and this obviously degrade cities’ image.

Furthermore, there,  the weight of communist dictatorship was sharpened by the fact that the leader Enver Hoxha wanted Albania to be self sufficient nation, cutting every relationship with other countries, even the communist ones.

babuska

vecchia

This led to 48 years of complete isolation right after the end of WWII, when the rest of the world started, slowly, to rebuild in the name of progress.

This is what, we have the feeling, is happening there right now, with one or two generations behind time.

heads

cappone

When you understand the economic and politic events of the last 100 years, then you start scratching all of your preconceived out of your mind; at that point you probably begin to slightly get a sense of Albanian people and their behave.

bear

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field

When you visit this land, you always had to keep in your mind that younger Albanians learned who Santa Klaus is around the first half of the 90s. The regime was cruel with religions and all other forms of individual freedom, so is comprehensible the violent rejection against everything that is “public” right after it’s fall, and the resulting brutal wave of egoism and individualism.

vecchio

woods

scratch

Now everything is in the youth’s hands, and if you have the time and will to understand Albania, the nation’s hinterland and its people, you’ll probably start seeing the intimate beauty and poetic that is hiding behind our western-predestined eyes.

sheperd

 @Enrico_Mancini

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