Recently I spent the weekend with my friend Meghan, on a girls-only vacation.
Well, we didn't necessarily mean to exclude our sitemates, but we happen to be girls and we wanted to do things that the boys simply don't enjoy doing. Such as eating a batch of chocolate chip cookies for dinner and watching a Glee marathon. (FYI: I just got a copy of Glee season one and I'm hooked! I know its stupid, but the characters are so over the top that I can't help but laugh. My favorite is the cheerleading coach. Yours too, right?)
Thai noodle picnic (with Leslie, but she took the picture)
Anyway, Meghan lives in Ksamil, a tiny village south of Sarande, near the big archaeological park of Butrint. The beaches here are absolutely PRIS-teen, and not too overdeveloped with restaurants. Local specialty is mussels, grown right there in Lake Butrint. Yes, dining on greek salad, white wine, and mussels in red sauce while overlooking the sparkling water or a blazing purple and pink ocean sunset is the epidomy of posh-corps. Also, since Meghan is the village's first and only English teacher (so funny to walk around and constantly be assalted with children shouting HELLO teacher! Howarr youuuu?) she has free and unlimited access to beach chairs and top service at the lokales. So that was our plan: beach by day, movies/ World Cup by night. We also took some secret trips to some secret islands, but I won't talk about that here now... you'll have to email me if you want details.
Absolutely the ugliest picture of us. But you can see the beach is beautiful!
Unfortunately, this tiny village once known for its aromatic orange groves has been razed and replaced with a smattering of big ugly cement hotel-homes. Meaning that, while comatose in the winter, the place explodes in the summer when people return from Greece and rent their empty rooms to Kosovar and Albanian families. Specifically, in August. During that month electricity dwindles (last year Meghan didn't get enough surge to keep her mini refrigerator running, or heat the oven--although really who wants to cook in August?-- and her one bare bulb light flickered with barely enough juice to read by). Ksamil also trucks in water. Yes. Evidently no springs nearby, so when all those families come for their pushim and want to take nice long hot showers, well, there simply isn't enough. So poor Meghan doesn't get to flush her toilet for a month. That's ok though, because maybe the mosquitos will stay in the toilet bowl instead of galavanting out on a blood sucking mission...?
The Gjiro guys came for awhile, trying get in on the fun. They went home promptly when we threatened an evening of Glee...!
I'm getting off topic. I want to talk about the political mahem that has shaken Ksamil. Some months back the government in Tirane decided it was high time to start punishing people who built illegal buildings. Something or other... Tirane has jurisdiction over Ksamil... blah blah and they happen to be Democrat.. Ksamil happens to be Socialist... So they posted notices with lists of illegal homes that were to be demolished. And indeed they were-- bulldozed, toppled over, blow up with dynamite.
The doll out front is supposed to protect the house from evil.
Most of them appear to be unfinished, typically families away in Greece who use their earnings abroad to bit-by-bit build their homes. Some of them were totally finished with families inside. Entire life savings that were poured into their homes-- wiped out in an instant. While I do wish the government would step up and protect cities/villages from this form of rampant 'development', its deplorable that they ignore it for so long and then step in so late in the game. Especially since these 250 chunks of rubble are now an even bigger eyesore, left behind like a post-war apocalypse.
This is the village's only school. What a school yard! Who's up for some hopscotch or b-ball?
Along the dirt road to Meghan's house...
Please don't get me wrong, I love visiting Ksamil. Full of lovely people that
have been good to Meghan. But its such an iconic example of how government functions here.
A neighbor. They probably live in Greece.
This post is entirely my opinion, thoughts from my head with absolutely no political bias or real emotional ties. Please don't take offense if your view differs. I welcome readers comments, but am not interested in a debate. My intention is only to illustrate to friends and family a snippet of life around here.
View from Meghan's shpie. See all those buildings?