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Albania: Scarecrows and Teddy Bears

January 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel


Albania_travel_0As the bus hobbled across the Macedonia-Albania border, it dawned on me at the time that I only knew two things about Albania. The first is that it is involved in the Kosovo dispute, but I don’t know the details. Someone else can sort that out. The second is that, around the start of the 20th century, international cricketer and world long jump record holder, C.B. Fry, was, somewhat bizarrely, offered the throne of Albania. Initial signs, from the time we head across the border and into the Albanian countryside, are that the impression I gleaned from Fry might have some basis. The people look a bit peculiar, such as the guy on the bus who looks like Mel Gibson circa Lethal Weapon with massive mullet and all, crossed with Sylvester Stallone at the end of a Rocky movie once he’s had his face punched 200 times.

The other strange thing is the Albanian half-built houses that are all adorned with either a scarecrow or a teddy bear that has been impaled on a protruding metal rod or lynched to hang limply from the roof. This macabre cultural idiosyncrasy is apparently intended to bring good luck to the home.

A trivia question: Who is the only Albanian you’ve heard of?

Answer: Mother Teresa. They even named the country’s largest airport after her.

Bonus fact: She was actually born in Macedonia. Jim Belushi was also born in Albania but I’m sure that doesn’t make it onto many tourist brochures.

Until recently, the country’s borders were shut to tourists; only business travel was permitted. The result of this is that Albania and its people are not used to foreigners. The flipside is that much of the country is undiscovered and unspoiled by tourism, although this is changing quickly, as there are plenty of Albanian tourists available to spoil the spots.

Tirana, the capital, doesn’t look to be much of anything when we get let out at one of the bus stations. It isn’t really even a bus station, just a random dirty parking lot Somewhere along Tirana’s main street, I realise we don’t have any Albanian money.

Fortunately, a Western Union bureau de change comes into view. The 12,907 denars we have left over from Macedonia, our previous stop, equates to about $323 Cdn. The man behind the Plexiglas window – a squat, short-necked man with an Elvis-like lip – changes our money into Albanian leks, prints out a tiny receipt and pushes it all back to our side of the window.

We settle into a hotel – thankfully payable in cash but twice the price indicated in the guidebook –  and head out for dinner. At around nine o’clock, I sit on the saggy hotel bed and take another look at our money. “Nineteen thousand three hundred and sixty leks,” I announce to no one.
“That doesn’t seem right.”
My wife Jane’s ears prick up. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I thought the exchange rate was more like two Albanian leks to one Macedonian denar. This guy has given us 1.5 leks.” I punch a few numbers into the calculator. “That’s a difference of … six thousand four hundred and fifty-four leks. That’s … 80 Canadian dollars!”
“Are you sure?”


“Right, let’s go kick his ass.”

We march back out into the quiet streets of Tirana, clutching our little receipt and ready for a fight. The exchange guy is entitled to a commission, that’s how these places work, but 80 bucks on a $320 transaction? No way, Goran.

Between our hotel and the Western Union office, we happen to pass the Albanian Police Headquarters, an imposing square edifice with several stone-faced policemen standing around outside. Jane walks up to one of them and asks if he speaks English, just on the off-chance that they might have some advice for us. He doesn’t, and neither do any of his colleagues. Fortunately, a couple of English-speaking passersby overhear our inquiries and come to help. We explain the situation to the young guys, who translate into Albanian.“He will call someone,” says one of the English speakers. We thank him for his help and they continue on their way. After a few moments, another policeman comes rushing over. He speaks a little English so we explain again, brandishing our postage stamp-sized receipt. He nods intently and confers with the first policeman, who also nods intently. A moment later, four more policemen walk briskly towards us, one hand on their guns. The assembled lawmen discuss our predicament with much nodding and serious-looking expressions, and several of them make calls on their cellphones.

“This is very serious,” he declares, while we try to keep a straight face. “These officers will drive you to the exchange office and we will fix the situation immediately.”

Suddenly, three police cars come tearing around the corner, sirens wailing. We figure that there must have been a terrorist attack or some similarly serious emergency in Tirana and that the group of policemen will be called away to deal with it. Instead, the cars screech to a halt right in front of us and another seven or eight police officers burst out, like circus clowns out of a Mini. We feel like we are on one of those reality shows, like Cops, and that someone is going to demand in an Albanian accent that we “reach for the sky.” The highest-ranking officer speaks some English and we sheepishly explain our exchange dilemma once more.

“This is very serious,” he declares, while we try to keep a straight face. “These officers will drive you to the exchange office and we will fix the situation immediately.”

“Uh, okay.”

We climb into the back of one of the squad cars and race off onto the main road, sirens blaring. The other two cars follow closely behind. Traffic veers to the side of the road and pedestrians dash for cover as we race through the streets. The police cars speed through red lights and take sharp corners like rally drivers, then stop abruptly outside the exchange office. Locals stop to look at the commotion, forming a small crowd. The security guard from the building that houses the exchange office is an older gentleman who was no doubt settling in for a quiet night with his feet up. He leaps to attention when the parade of police officers assembles outside.

Once all the cars in the chasing pack have arrived and everyone has emptied out onto the footpath, there must be about a dozen cops milling around, including a young lady officer who speaks English. We explain our situation once more to her and she also nods earnestly. The collective investigative skills of the Tirana police force determine that the Western Union office is in fact closed for the evening.

“That’s OK, we’ll come back tomorrow,” we offer. The group of police officers gradually disperses back into the night.

As it turns out, in the cold light of day, we don’t really have much of a case. The Western Union office’s published rate is indeed 1.5 leks per denar. Although we ended up paying a 25 per cent commission and effectively losing $80 Cdn, we didn’t have a ‘lek’ to stand on.


141 Responses to “Albania: Scarecrows and Teddy Bears”

  1. costa on February 15th, 2010 7:57 pm

    To James Morrison,
    Too much cynicism to title the article about a country with scarecrows and teddy bears. Just take a look what any farmer does to keep birds away from their wheats and dare to name a country after that.

    It is very sarcastic and shows how miserable you are when you describe people who tried to help with a problem that you pathetically caused in the first place.
    It is always your responsibility to check when changing money. If you ever forget that, try in downtown toronto to send a wire-transfer and see how many times 80dollars will fly off your handle.

    And that -no way Goran- where did that come from? How is that related to the article or the country? Are you gypsy?

    In any case, next time you visit any country don’t forget your pills.

  2. Mishel on February 15th, 2010 8:20 pm

    Dear Mr. Morrison,

    While I am sure you did not intend any insult to Albania or Albanians, that is the exact result of your shallow and unprofessional reportage on Albania.
    Keep in mind that Albania and Albanians belong to that part world that craddled the western civilization while your ancestors where still in caverns.
    If you took the time to make a simple research on Albania and it’s history you would have found that Skopje (Shkup in al.) was part of a much bigger state at the time when Mother Teresa was born, and the so called state of Macedonia was “born” 50 years after Mother Teresa was born.
    What leaves me without words is that you consider people who have some kind of superstition as uncivilized. Well… in the building where I live in Etobicoke they have lost the entire 13th floor, also the 13th appartment is missing in each floor.
    I think Canadians are wild and uncivilized, or are they??

    Yours Truly

    Mishel Gjata

  3. Hiya ;) on February 15th, 2010 9:43 pm

    lets try this again ,
    how about u take another trip to albania AND WRITE A BETTER ARTICLE!

  4. shqato on February 15th, 2010 11:10 pm

    Mishel wrote:

    “Keep in mind that Albania and Albanians belong to that part world that craddled the western civilization while your ancestors where still in caverns.”

    If what you’re saying is true, it doesn’t put us, Albanians and that part of the world where we come from, in good light. What matters is not what we were in the past and what our ancestors were capable of accomplishing (we don’t even know who exactly our ancestors are, because all Balkan countries claim deriving from the same ancestors). Nevertheless, what matters is what we are accomplishing today, while (following your logic) “the people still in caverns” are now so far ahead of us — of us, who once “craddled the western civilization”! Why are we so busy glorifying the history, instead of being busy catching up?

  5. agron zeqo on February 16th, 2010 11:47 am

    WOW…!!!!! Let’s keep it cool guys, Mr. Morrison has left already the scene of the debate. He knew from the beginning, what kind of reaction he would have got from albanians and canadians. The fact that he doesn’t have any professional remorse, tells a lot. Today, any decent, professional and inspired writer tries to find, even in the darkest spot of this world the color that gives life and hope.
    But, in my comment, I am not going to punish him; I want to help him to be a different and wanted as a writer.
    Mr. Morrison, please start read something about the place, country or region, before you take off and leaving on professional, historic or touristic trip. If you don’t apologize, don’t do it..but the next article of yours will definitely be different if you take my suggestion.

    agron zeqo

    plans examiner

  6. GEN-X on February 16th, 2010 12:01 pm

    O Sh qato …

    Ta kemi lene ty o plehre qe ta “catch-up” historine dhe te gelltisesh gelbazat e tua….Pasi nuk ke me cfare te merresh ke filluar e qan me ze te larte qe te gjesh mbeshtjetjen e dikujt… Ato vargjet qe lexova diku me siper ne kete blog besoj se bejne nje pershkrim perfekt te moralit dhe antishqiptarizmit tend te ndyre. Sado qe shan e turfullon je Shqiptar, qe mos qofsh me mire.

  7. BJ on February 16th, 2010 1:41 pm

    I haven’t been to Albania but some of my friends have. When they came back, one of the things they said they noticed was the teddy bears (and other doll-things) impaled on the houses. It’s funny that you Albanians have never seen them. Perhaps you just don’t notice them …

    They also commented on the garbage, the corruption, the lack of tourist infrastructure, and other things that this guy (the author) didn’t even mention. Maybe you Albanians only see your country through rose-tinted glasses.

    Every country has problems – Canada certainly does – but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about them. Does it?

    I can’t believe how sensitive you guys are to what I, as a neutral reader (I’m British), thought was simply a funny, light-hearted travel story.

    Have you noticed how many non-Albanians have complained about the article? None!

    The main problem, I think, is that you don’t understand what “tongue-in-cheek” means. This article was clearly tongue-in-cheek and anyone who did not have a dog in the fight would have noticed this.

    Are the factual errors, such as where John Belushi was born, etc, really that important? Ask yourself this – would you have been crying like babies over these mistakes if the article had said only complimentary things about Albania? Of course not.

    You are upset because someone dared to criticize your golden country. In fact, he didn’t even really criticize it, he just said some things that weren’t flattering.

    You even get extra upset when a fellow Albanian (shquato) disagrees with you, basically calling him/her a traitor. Surely people from Albania – a country where free speech was outlawed for so long – would be more open to differences of opinion.

    Your crazy comments have done way more damage to Albania’s reputation than this article. I would have visited Albania after reading the article but if it is full of people like those commenting here, I don’t think I’ll bother.

  8. GEN-X on February 16th, 2010 3:23 pm

    O Sh qato…
    Kujton se stili yt i te shkruarit eshte i padeshifrueshem. Ti po perserit ato mendime qe ke shprehur diku me siper, se te mbaruan argumentat si dhe gelbazat e helmet qe leshove nga goja. Gjeja me e habitshme eshte qe te huajt sikurse pretendon ky (ti) mesiper, paskan marre persiper mbrojtjen e kauzes SH QI TO duke bere nje perkthim te fjales tradhetar. A thua keta te huajt jane kaq te etur per te mesuar ship???!!!!
    Kthe ndonje pergjigje sikur je me origjine nga Zelanda e Re tani. Behu bashkepatriot me James se Shiptaret te kane bere te qash. Bota eshte e rrumbullaket dhe ngado qe te shkosh po aty ku je nisur mberrin……….Megjithese nje PLEHRE si puna jote nuk i duhet kujt.

  9. agron zeqo on February 17th, 2010 2:24 pm

    GEN-X, I don’t even think, that Shqato is albanian.

    This is for Mr. B.J.

    Mr. BJ, I am that old, I have seen a lot of the stuff that J.M. described in his article.
    As I have seen a lot of the opposite. The problem is not that it doesn’t exist, or we try to deny it. The albanians fight every day with that part of reality to improve it.
    There are a lot of changes, as there are still tons of problems. In an article a reporter, publisher, writer can help, can kill or can be neutral. If you can’t help, be neutral at least. Being neutral means (as far I do understand), taking in consideration many facts, events, stories to create a good balance and somehow real of the environment, you’re writting of.
    But, something tells me that you must be JM, trying to justify something that you don’t need to. Being oneside writer it is up to you and the the publisher pays you. If it does work, good for you, but don’t tell us how to react. Any good canadian citizen would react louder, higher, if a foreigner reporter describing the Downtown Toronto, gives to the rest of the world the twisted impression that there are only homelesses and some ugly shacks.

  10. nisi on February 17th, 2010 2:37 pm

    James, I think this article does not portray the country of Albania, and this is certain from someone who is not Albanian and has visited the country for the first time 1 year ago. It shows I guess how unprofessional and shallow you really are. First of all I’m not sure what this article is about….the scarecrows or this transaction which you have devoted half of the article on. I would be very interested to know in how many places you actually went in Albania to be calling this article as such. Personally im from Germany and once I visited I found it to be a very enjoyable. Of course the language is a barrier but that is your problem and not theirs, you are the one that visited not them. Before even tempting to write another article please sir do yourself a favor and try to think before writing something down that has very little to do with anything. This is a bullshit article that tries to hit the nerves of some Albanians I guess…butt I think you are the one who will come to realize the fact that simply because you lost 80 dollars because of information YOU did not pay attention on, you can put down a county like this. This is lame. Please never write again. Thanks :)

  11. John M on February 17th, 2010 2:40 pm

    Hi James, your analysis of certain things are very inaccurate. It must come to your attention that your incompetence of doing your job properly is making a lot of people angry. First point. Albania has more culture and history then the place where your are from(whatever that may be). The Albanian prince “Skenderbeu” and his army of honest men fought for many years and helped Central Europe gather enough strength to defeat the Turkish empire. I am assuming the place where you stayed was maybe not the best place but that happens in every country, Take North York (Toronto) for example and i am assuming you know where it is, if you don’t then i would suggest you start and study your geography again. Try and stay at Jane and Finch for a day or so and you will witness some things that you would never see anywhere else. I rest my point and i suggest that next time you do an analysis on a country please do it proffesionally and focus on area that matter and do not write “stupid” comments like you just did in this article.It is offending to a lot of people. you should apologize for what you said. I hope you have enough education to continue your future studies in what ever topic.

  12. Redi on February 17th, 2010 8:12 pm

    Shame on you jamestone
    while albanians were building the civilisation your ancestors were hanging from trees like monkeys. yes thats right, you didnt even had caves to sleep on.

    i wonder what kind of a publishing newspaper are you citylife magazine, what is sure that you arent a serious one to have such incompetent writers on your ranks.

    dhe shqato dicka ta kesh per perkthim sot.

    ate motren nese ke nje te tille shkaperdhat.

  13. Altin on February 17th, 2010 9:27 pm

    shqato wrote:

    “If what you’re saying is true, it doesn’t put us, Albanians and that part of the world where we come from, in good light. What matters is not what we were in the past and what our ancestors were capable of accomplishing (we don’t even know who exactly our ancestors are, because all Balkan countries claim deriving from the same ancestors). Nevertheless, what matters is what we are accomplishing today, while (following your logic) “the people still in caverns” are now so far ahead of us — of us, who once “craddled the western civilization”! Why are we so busy glorifying the history, instead of being busy catching up?”

    Boy u must be joking.

    first of all let me tell you couple of things.
    our ancestors are the illirians and no other balkan or europian country claims deriving from them. try and use little bit google if you arent that good in history at least.
    now let me explain about the civilization thing. ancient greece craddled the civilization 1.1k years b.c but today the modern greece is the same place and they are in economic crisis. even the word democracy is derived from ancient greece.
    egypt another place of ancient civilization 3.2k years ago. today?
    china, another one. today?

    no tell me about ur background and we can talk with facts about ur homelan.

    Proud to be albanian.

    i will be calling and asking different tv channels and my MP about the discrimination from james morrison and the news paper publishing these innacurate publishing these kind of articles in our “multicultural citty of toronto”

    and last but not least forgive me for my english. is my 5fth languange.

  14. shqato on February 17th, 2010 9:46 pm

    Were we having this type of communication at a table or at a coffee store, bullets would have blown my head off by now. GEN-X, as a true GEN-Y gang lead, with Kalashnikovs in both hands shoots on the left and on the right, not knowing what to do with his/her anger and emotions, sold as love and care for Albania.

  15. shqato on February 17th, 2010 10:47 pm

    Altin said: ‘i will be calling and asking different tv channels and my MP about the discrimination from james morrison and the news paper publishing these innacurate publishing these kind of articles in our “multicultural citty of toronto”’

    The MP replied: Altin, I am sorry you feel this way. As an MP in a multicultural, diverse and inclusive country, I just cannot force Jimmy to like Albania or not, at least not the same way as you do. By the why, Altin, why did you decide to leave Albania, the cradle of western civilization, in the first place?

  16. Mishel on February 19th, 2010 3:28 pm

    Shqato-shkerdhato sa mire te kane shkolluar atje ne Serbi. E qan edhe anglishten edhe shqipen.

  17. shqato on February 21st, 2010 12:18 pm

    Mishel, in his previous message has signed by the name of MISHEL GJATA, which looks like a real name.

    As Internet houses all of our foot prints (practically our lives), through a quick and simple search on google, I found that Mishel is apparently an individual who like many other respected citizens in Etobicoke, Ontario, resides in a certain apartment of a 10th floor of a certain building. He seems to be a well educated person, who advertises his resume, address and phone numbers on the web, in search of translation or other work opportunities. He claims he knows an impressive number of 7 languages, 4 of which excellently and 3 on a basic level. He has a university degree in mining and has held a number of respectable jobs in Albania, including News story producer, interpreter and translator for investigative TV reporting crew. In Canada he has helped passengers in the airport with information and customer service, and has as well translated engineering notes and specifications.

    Therefore, I find it strangely but mostly sad, that the same individual writes here with such filthy language and rage, fit for ordinary teen delinquents.

    And the type of language he chooses to use in this site is here for everyone – his fellow Albanians, including potential employers (not to mention potential tourists or Albanian admirers) – to see, along and side by side with his resume.

  18. GEN-X on February 21st, 2010 5:08 pm


    Ate te sharen qe te paskan bere e ke pak. Ti me siguri do kesh qene nga ata qe i ka ngrene kurrizi shkop ose ke pare birucen me sy ne kohen e Enverit. Nese kjo eshte e verteta, e paske merituar. Njerezit cinike jane zakonisht njerez te pakenaqur me jeten dhe ti je nje i/e tille.
    Po Google search-in kush ta mesoi Enveri ne burg ……

  19. shqato on February 21st, 2010 7:36 pm

    You cannot use any other language but Albanian to express the cultural excrement above. It’s understandable, because your English is too superficial and thin to convey the filth you inherit from the totalitarian culture. This is why you get pathologically overwhelmed by even a light, ironic and harmless piece such as “Scarecrows and Teddy Bears”.

    No, Enver Hoxha, didn’t have time to deal with me. I was too young, just a kid when he died, and very unimportant to catch his attention. But I know very well what he did to Albania. And the reason he managed to do whatever he did is, because there were too many people like you, Gen-X et al, narrow-minded, prisoners of ideology and myths, not difficult to be kept under the thumb. People like you carry on the same mindset wherever you go, because you can only change the geography and geometrical location, whereas the mind and thinking remains stuck in the past. And no wonder Albania remains stuck in the mud too.

    Otherwise the day was lovely and hopeful. The sun shined and the sky was clearer than ever.

  20. Dhimitraq on February 21st, 2010 7:40 pm

    Mr. Morrison

    I recently came across your article on the Internet, and I have to say that I was appalled. Even though these facts may be true (as it can be true in any other country, Canada included), I find it “interesting” that you only talk about three facts that all happen to be negative. This tells any reader that you had a clear negative agenda when you visited Albania. The fact that you know only 2 things about Albania, doesn’t mean that Albania has only those two things to offer, it only means that you are an ignorant man when it comes to Albania and it’s history. My advice to you is that you should educate yourself on your next visit to another country.
    How would you feel if an Albanian visitor wrote only negative things about Canada?
    An Albanian man like you had visited Toronto on the 26 of December a few years ago and he decided to write an article about Canada, here are 3 facts that he might have written about.
    · Anytime I stopped in traffic lights in Toronto streets there were at least one or two “suspicious looking” beggars asking for money.
    · When I drove downtown I saw that the streets were filled with homeless people and garbage surrounding them, some of them were drunk.
    · When he passed by the subway station, a gang fight broke out and bullets started to fly everywhere. People started to run for their lives and later he discovered that an innocent young girl was murdered at the scene.

    Do you think the article would be fair to Canada and Canadians?
    Guess what – NO, Canada is a wonderful country with wonderful people, Canada has more to offer. The same apply to Albania as well; Albania had more to offer to you, but you chose to dwell on the negative instead of embracing the positive.
    I can read between the lines your happiness to question her Albanian roots. You say that Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia – let me educate you – more than one third of Macedonian population is Albanian, and one of them happen to be Mother Teresa.
    There is so much anger and negativism in you, you most probably you don’t fill good about yourself and your life.

  21. Elena Skavica on February 21st, 2010 9:59 pm

    Mr. Morrison,
    I know my English does not fit to Mr. shqato and your ears but don’t worry and don’t need to assume. It is my second language, and I am not ashamed of this fact. This does not make me and my people less patriotic to Canada, to this great country we are proud to call homeland as much (maybe more) as you claimed so before us. I am not going to tell you if you are right or wrong on your article because this is obvious, but only to tell that English is none more than e derivate of Albanian language.
    Don’t you forget that were Albanians (known as Pellazgs) who occupied England (back then they were known as Romans-there was no Italy who was formed by an Albanian named Garibaldi). Albanians (pellazgo-romans) who brought in the daylight of Christianity on this world, who formed Scotland and Ireland (why they have Albany name? – Simply because Albanian king Alban after the Armenian-Greek invasion left the motherland and headed north and captured English canal). Was Mother Teresa an Albanian since she was born in Skopje is your questionmark? Certainly you couldn’t distinguish the fact that Skopje is not Macedonian but rather Albanian city. History has played games with our people, with our motherland and with our own history…even some “Great nations” have peculate and make our own entient history their own history…even the greatest history belong to us, pellazgs, the Homer language – pelazgus language was diminished and vanished to be displaced with Armenian new Greek language…not mentioning the squeeze of our nation by Slavic disastrous invasion.
    I am sorry to bring so much information on your mind, something you have had no chance to hear about….not to pretend to have learned in school.
    What advice do I have for you? Read Lord Byron, read Mathiew Aref, read the only code of honour in the world known as the ancient constitution…and you will see next time in Albania an ancient people, ancient history, the only and greatest trunk of all world history. Read and dig deeper and you will find that great country in the world that not only fought Nazi invaders during the WW2, but also the only one to have stop the Nazi adventure against the Jew people. We took them in gave them home, but also we are the only and first country to be invaded by the nazi-fachist invaders during the WW2. And I am a proud daughter of a WW2 hero who fought for 6 years not to liberate his country but neighbours as well. Though, you will have maybe a chance to learn that there are over 70% of Greek population known as decent Albanians in Grece – afraid to say so, over 90% of Macedonian (FRM) population as decent Albanians in Macedonia – frightened and exploit by slavic minority tyrans, over 40% of Italy are decent albanians too. Albania stand for the only country to have stand in guard of Christianity for three decades during 15th centry’s Turkish invaders…a price we paid by blodshed and lost identity, by forcefully and largely becoming muslins in 17th century, a faith which to albainians is not their true believe. We are the only and the one who brought Christianity in Europe, defended it to our last drop of blood when others were building castels and parks – our catels were being destryed. We are the only people who have Christianity in our hearts…no matter how you portrait us. Hope one day you will learn that the biggest scientist that world has known, Robert Einstein, survived only by his albanian citizenship. The last thing I want to mention to you is that your luck of losing $80 to loansharking well known Western Union does not give you the right to portrait our country as country of “Scarecrows and Teddy Bears” a country who stand proud to Christianity and its people, the country who George Kastriot Scanderbeg, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ali Pasha Tepelena, Kollokotroni, Suliotet, Bubulina, Garibaldi the founder of Italy, mother Teresa, many Papas of Vatican have proudly called home, a country who have brought life to many other nations. Are we touched by this article? Certainly! Why? Because we have given everything to and for the world, and it forget who it is mocking off! Why didn’t you move five steps away off loansharking Western Union to a western Bank or to a modern exchange shop? Because you crossed Albania (hopefully you had the chance to pass the government terror against tourists) after visiting Macedonia, a country found over our ancient history blend with their Slavic culture!
    Hope all this misinformation and rancour didn’t come to you by losing $80, a fact that made your eyes becaming grey…
    Make your homework and don’t rush in concussions…esoecialy dont misinform for something you have not the right education and culture to do so.
    Seems you didnt see a city largely build in marbles…but found a dirty buss station! Pity you!

  22. Jonny on February 24th, 2010 1:48 pm

    As a simple westerner, the main thing I took from this article is that I want to nominate Tirana for the Most Uncorrupt Police Award.

    All these angry comments though remind me of when the movie Borat came out. The Kazakhstan government took out full-page advertisements and TV commercials explaining that the country was not really like that, when no one even believed Borat was real anyway.

    The only thing I remembered about Albania was that it bordered on the Adriatic, and I only knew that because it was part of a song in Cheers oh so many years ago (thank you, Google: I don’t think any Albanians need to worry about this article, certainly not from my (ignorant western) point of view. Heck, I want to buy a ticket just so I can say I’m flying from Lester Pearson to Mother Teresa. : )

  23. Jonny on February 24th, 2010 1:52 pm

    Moderator: please change my link to this if you can…


  24. shqato on February 24th, 2010 7:19 pm

    Elena, instead of worrying about your English (no one cares much to grade your English aptitude), I think you should worry about the fairy tales you’re telling about “Albanians (known as Pellazgs) who occupied England”, and “Albanians (pellazgo-romans) who brought in the daylight of Christianity on this world, who formed Scotland”. Now, these are things I’d be worried about, if I were you.

    Where on earth did you learn such balderdash (nonsense)? Your dreams are fantastic…

    But, even if they were not, what does “Albania – once the center of universe” have anything to do with traveler experiences today with buses, drivers, policemen, currency exchange agents, scarecrows and teddy bears and so on and so forth?

  25. Otaqsh-i on February 24th, 2010 10:44 pm

    Zoti profesor Shqato,

    Me qellim ose jo, erdhe ne qender te vemendjes duke luftuar me shqiptaret si Don Kishoti me mullinjte e eres. Qe nuk e do Shqiperine e nuk je patriot nuk ka asgje te keqe per mendimin tim. Edhe fjala patriotizem prandaj ka dale , qe te dalloje njerezit qe e duan vendin e tyre nga ata qe nuk e duan, dhe po e perseris edhe nje here, eshte krejt normale. Fillon te qelbet pak kur ti e vecon veten nga shqiptaret. Besoj qe edhe mamin adhe babin e ke shqiptar, keshtu qe nuk shpeton dot nga kjo e keqe ose e mire. Te gjithe shqiptaret ketu (ne canada e kam llafin) e dine kush ka qene e kush eshte Shqiperia. Disa prej tyre edhe parashikojne te ardhmen se si do te jete. Por rralle ndodh qe flasin me neveri sic flet ti. Qenja jote shqiptar eshte nje gje subjektive, keshtu qe ti nuk ke pse ke frike ose neveri. Nuk eshte faji yt. Edhe qe e shan, deri ne nje fare shkalle, nuk shikoj asgje te keqe. Por nuk mund ta mohosh sepse mohon veten mamin, babin dhe gjithe librin e shtepise.
    Kam vene re se te gjitha replikat na permend anglishten tende te perkryer. Bravo te qofte qe nje anglishtshkrues i perkryer, good job. .Por kete mos na e trego ne shqiptareve. Kete tregojua canadezeve. Sa provime te kane kerkuar te japesh per te mbrojtur anglishten, qe duket se e di edhe me mire se canadezet? Sa kokecarje te kane dhene? Dhe per gjithe keto ti kujton se ta kane fajin shqiptaret. Shiptaret nuk kane asgje te bejne me problemet qe ke pasur ti ne Canada, nuk eshte faji i tyre. Por duket se anglishtja jote eshte si 80-dollareshi i Jim Morrison ne Tirane, qe humbi 80 dollare e botoi nje pacavure per te relaksuar veten e per te te vene ty ne pune.
    Kam vene re se ti ke problem me shqiptaret qe marrin nga 10 Can per ore (packa se kinezet ne downtown toronto punojne edhe per 5 Can ora), ose ata qe jetojne ne ndertesa shumekateshe. Une nuk shoh gje te keqe. Dikush jeton ne ndertesa shumekateshe ne Etobicoke, dikush tjeter ne ndertesa shumekateshe ne Scarborough. problemi qelbet kur kalon ne te dhena personale te njerezve duke shfrytezuar ndonje moment sinqeriteti ose etike profesionale. Kjo eshte shume e keqe. Duhet te kesh qene ne momente te ngarkuara familjare dhe prap kalove ne origjine-per inat te sime vjerre fle me mullixhiun.
    Cheers proffesor Shqato.
    Hera e pare dhe e fundit qe shkruaj. Te me falin lexuesit qe disa here kam folur ne shumes.

  26. shqato on February 24th, 2010 11:40 pm

    Otaqsh-i shkruan:

    “Edhe qe e shan [Shqiperine], deri ne nje fare shkalle, nuk shikoj asgje te keqe. Por nuk mund ta mohosh sepse mohon veten mamin, babin dhe gjithe librin e shtepise.”

    Prej cka gjendet e shkruar ne kete vend komentesh, une po perpiqem te kundershtoj ato qe me duken te paverteta ose qe jane brockulla te pavertetueshme. Kjo nuk do te thote se po mohoj Shqiperine (lere pastaj mamin dhe babin qe s’hyjne hic gjekundi ketu). Ate e dua sic eshte, me gjithe vuajtjet qe ka hequr e po heq, por s’kam aspak nevoje te rrah gjoksin e te mbuloj diellin me shoshe, a te them gjera te paqena, e aq me pak kur keto s’kane asfare lidhje me temen.

    Shkruan me tej Otaqsh-i (mbrapsht Shqato):

    “Kam vene re se te gjitha replikat na permend anglishten tende te perkryer. Bravo te qofte qe nje anglishtshkrues i perkryer, good job.”

    Nuk e ke vene re aspak, sepse nuk e kam permendur ndonjehere nje gje te tille (edhe sepse thjesht nuk ekzistojne gjera te perkryera). Mjaft me kete avaz. Edhe jo s’me ka dale fare shpirti duke mesuar anglishten, as me ka detyruar kush. Ne fakt me kenaqesi jam perpjekur e perpiqem ende ta mesoj sa mundem se bashku e krahas me shqipen.

    Shkruan prap po Shqato mbrapsht:

    “Kam vene re se ti ke problem me shqiptaret qe marrin nga 10 Can per ore (packa se kinezet ne downtown toronto punojne edhe per 5 Can ora), ose ata qe jetojne ne ndertesa shumekateshe. ”

    Po ku e ke vene re more zotni i dashur? Une s’e kam fare problem qe disa shqiptare marrin 10 dollare ne ore. Vetem vura ne dukje nje fakt te tille dhe arsyetova se kush merr 10 dollare ne ore s’duhet ta kete te lehte to leshoje 8 ore pune (pa llogaritur taksat) veresie vetem e vetem sepse na i qenkerkash fyer sedra patriotike. Ne fakt jo 10 dollare ne ore, por edhe ai qe merr cilindo shumefish te 10 dollareshit, s’duhet ta beje as ta thote nje gje te tille sa arrogante aq edhe fallco. (Njerezit ne memedhe po ia kepusin njeri-tjetrit me plumb ballit per nje cope gardh…, por kur vjen puna per patriotizem e per t’u dukur para te tjereve, jo 80 dollare s’jane hic gje… Cfare, mos do te me thuash tani se s’e dua Shqiperine ngaqe po permend nje fakt qe te gjithe e shohim rendom ne shtyp?) Po ne vend qe t’i shesesh mend Morrison-it, coji ne Shqiperi ato $80, falja shkollave, shtepive te jetimeve, grave te keqtrajtuara, pensionisteve, spitaleve, familjeve fatkeqe te Gerdecit.

    As me te dhena personale nuk merrem. Une po merrem me gjera qe jane vendosur ne Internet per gjithe syte e botes per t’i pare publikisht, prej njerezish te rritur e te pergjegjshem. Une nuk po them ndonje sekret, qe te tjeret nuk e dine ose qe pengohen ta dine.

  27. Artur on February 25th, 2010 3:38 pm


    Instead of my own words I got a story, from somewhere else…


    My mom only had one eye. I hated her… She was such an embarrassment.
    She cooked for students & teachers to support the family. There was this one day during elementary school where my mom came to Say hello to me. I was so embarrassed. How could she do this to me?
    I ignored her, threw her a hateful look and ran out. The next day at school one of my classmates said, ‘EEEE, your mom only has one eye!’ I wanted to bury myself. I also wanted my mom to just disappear.
    I confronted her that day and said, ‘ If you’re only goanna make me a Laughing stock, why don’t you just die?’ My mom did not respond…
    I didn’t even stop to think for a second about what I had said, because I was full of anger.
    I was oblivious to her feelings. I wanted out of that house, and have nothing to do with her.
    So I studied real hard, got a chance to go abroad to study. Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own. I had kids of my own. I was happy with my life, my kids and the comforts, Then one day, my
    Mother came to visit me. She hadn’t seen me in years and she didn’t even meet her grandchildren.
    When she stood by the door, my children laughed at her, and I yelled at
    her for coming over uninvited. I screamed at her, ‘How dare you come to my house and scare my
    Children! GET OUT OF HERE! NOW!!!
    And to this, my mother quietly answered, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address,’
    And she disappeared out of sight.
    One day, a letter regarding a school reunion came to my house. So I lied to my wife that I was going on a business trip. After the reunion, I went to the old shack just out of curiosity. My neighbors said that she died. I did not shed a single tear. They handed me a letter that she had wanted me to have.

    ‘My Dearest Son,
    I think of you all the time. I’m sorry that I came to your house and scared your children.
    I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I may not be able to even get out of bed to see you. I’m sorry that I was a constant embarrassment to you when you were growing up.
    You see……..when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn’t stand watching you having to grow up with one eye. So I gave you mine.
    I was so proud of my son who was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye.

    With all my love to you,
    Your mother

  28. shqato on February 25th, 2010 8:57 pm

    What a story!

    I showed it to a kid and this is what the kid said:

    I think this story is not intelligent. Did this mother and son ever communicate with each other? Where was the father? Were they divorced? What was the mother trying to prove? What was her goal? Surprising her son by waiting till the end of life to finally tell him the eye truth? Why? What for? I thought people hide bad things, because they are either too ashamed to admit what they have done wrong, or they intend to keep it a secret, so that they keep doing it. What’s the purpose of hiding information about a good thing? Do people have to hide good things? Wasn’t the boy ever curious that there was something strange about his eyes – the color did not exactly match or the shape was not the same, or they felt and looked funny? And then, did the mother simply have a hole where one of her eyes should have been? That must have been a scary look… Didn’t she get a fake eye, or at least some dark glasses? Weird story… Who authored it anyway? Where did you get it?

    I didn’t tell him that the mother was supposed to be “Mother Albania”, who gave me “the eye so I could see a whole new world” and that I was so ungrateful till the day she died (God forbid)!

  29. Anetar on February 26th, 2010 2:57 am


    Nje tregim mjaft domethenes dhe prekes.

    Ky blog qe po vazhdon gjate tregon se sa shume shqiptaro-kanadeze jetojne ne Toronto e rrethinat. A nuk do ishte me mire qe te gjithe neve te kontribuojme ne nje ceshtje me te rendesishme sic eshte ajo e: Familjeve te permbytura ne zonen e mbi Shkodres?

    Shoqata shqiptaro-kanadeze po zhvillon nje fushate per te mbledhur nje fond ndihme qe do te dergohet nepermjet Kryqit Te Kuq Kanadez ne Shqiperi.

    Per me teper lexoni:


  30. BENN on February 28th, 2010 1:57 pm

    ky forum eshte bere si ato muret e haleve te plazhit (kush i mban mend) ku sharjet pasonin njera-tjetren, por ngjyra e germave ishte gjithmone e njejte: kafe

  31. erblin on April 12th, 2010 9:05 pm

    i am from albania and i`m only 8,and i know that`s not nice to say,so next time,
    THINK TWICE,dude

  32. Duke Smith on April 22nd, 2010 6:29 am

    Well it seems to me that you visited Albania but did not see it. Like many treasures of the world, you must look a little deeper than the surface. Albania is a wonderful country full of incredible people. Because of communists government the people may not have much, but what they have they would freely give, unlike most of the rest of the world that is concerned with only taking or filling their pockets.

    Albania is considered the most hospitable country in the world. My experience has been if they are not, they certainly are at the top. If you go back, let me know and I will contact a few that will really show you Albania!

    P.S. Those are eagles…not crows…

  33. AlbMichigan on May 31st, 2010 2:30 am

    Yes, we are eagles and is not good to hear that for my country and my people… :(

  34. kimi on July 16th, 2010 11:13 pm

    hi everyone from an albanian, what happened to that guy wile visiting albania i see as a normal thing, i really thought that we albanians are a lil bit tough but when i got to visit the world, i realized that albania was the paradise i have been looking for even though i lived there i didnt realize, and i understand the guy about his experience in tirana, but the same thing happened to me when i got in new york for the first time when i wanted to exchange euros to dollars, and i thought that this would not happen in albania but everywhere u go ur gonna be seeing good and bad things, my bag was stolen in new york’s subway, and when i visited canada i lost my wallet, but still that doesnt say anything about canadians or americans same as this article doesnt say anything bad about albanians even though is seen not with a good eye, however go in albania with a plan, there are a lot of wonderful thinkgs to see, its a pitty u missed them, anyway i dont understand why ppl visit e place and miss the beautiful paert of it, or may be u went as an agent lolz, take care, and wellcome back to albania but this time look for the good and interesting things that albania is unique about, cheers

  35. kimi on July 17th, 2010 1:25 am

    and SHQATO u sound to be smart for ur self, i like ur idea of prosperity, but i dont understand where to place u? u have confused me, not that i care that much but i just wanna know where ur roots are placed, if u have any! i can see ur good in english and albanian but is absolutely useless in the way ur using it, u sound like a spy dude! i dont know if ur feet stink or if u have bicycle but i know for sure ur not albanian, and this breaks my heart lolz( not really). no seriously u seem to be a wise man but i think ” KABLLAT TU KAN PERZI” . kastravec mos mshit kopalla ktu

  36. shqato on November 16th, 2010 9:50 pm

    OK, I thought this discussion ended a long time ago…

    “kastravec, mos m[e] shit kopalla k[e]tu” – semundje shqiptare kjo, qe tregon se ne hesapet s’i mbylim dot pa grushta, shqelma e peshtyma. Fundja shiko c’behet ne parlamentin shqiptar… Valle c’te presesh me shume nga kimi?

    Why do you need to know where to place me? Why would you be so worried about my roots? I am not a plant! Let me remind you the discussion is not about me, but about what a Canadian’s travel experience in Albania was like. So, stop using your sick pride, use instead your mind!

  37. O on February 17th, 2011 9:42 pm

    Do you all see how he came from Macedonia ,he was there first he took all the hate from there and put his mouth on his cheep pocket and start writing things from his empty brain.Mr. Morri wrote this article and made some pictures just to show his boss that he pased through Albania so he can get some money back.He did not impress anybody , he did not show the truth or neither he went to our museums or any cultural centers .I hope he did not get payed from any Serbian to write what he did .It look soo because he had only dinar money and no Canadian.Where is the credit cards ????? not a good credit to have one or you are a looser trying to make a few pennies by insalting our Country and our coulture . Very impresive Mr.morri (translate)Burn in Hell mr.Morrison !! How about that have you heart about a bad Albanian wish to you…You better appoligize to all these people and their country.

  38. O on February 17th, 2011 9:48 pm

    Sorry but my English is not that good I am new here.Thanks to all my Albanian friends for their good coments exept a few.

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