Here is my first email to most of you. I wrote it on the 6th, but haven't
been able to send it until now. There will be another one following
shortly. I welcome comments and greetings from all of you, but may not have
time to answer all. Hope you are all doing well!
June 6, 1999
Albanian Chronicles 1: The Adjustment
Well, here I am, in Albania for 5 days now and it feels like a month!
Each day is packed with new experiences, which take so much
energy to process and absorb. It has been non‑stop since arrival,
which is why it has taken me so long to get a decent letter out to
I still don't have internet access from my apartment, but I wanted
to get something written before it all starts to blend together.
Well, to start from the beginning... it was a shorter flight than I
thought it might be. The stopovers in Amsterdam and Budapest
were uneventful, since I only had a few hours in each. The best
part of the transatlantic portion was a beautiful sunset/rise that
never quit... it literally lasted the whole flight... the midnight sun
The NATO helicopters parked along the runway and soldiers with
automatic weapons were a sobering sight as I stepped off the
plane onto the tarmack, and I felt oddly protected.
The worst part of the flight was the arrival in Tirana, where I had to
wait for one and a half hours to get my passport stamped in a
crowded, hot, smoke‑filled room, with lots of angry foreigners. If
you knew someone, you could move to the front of the line. If
not, you had to wait impatiently.
Dale, my boss for the second time, had to wait outside the airport
for me to come out into the bright hot sun. And then when he
asked me where my suitcases were, I realized that I was so happy
to get out of there that I totally forgot to pick them up! Finally,
after arguing with the guard at the entrance, who didn't want to
let me back in, I went back and fetched them.
That's all for now... look for Chronicle 2 coming to an email address near
From Albania with love,