Albanian Weekly Aventurës 6: Albania’s Dirty Problem
Welcome back to the weekly aventurës, a blog post where I tell you what I’ve been up to for the week and what it’s like living in one of the most beautiful undiscovered spots in Europe – Saranda, Albania.
There’s quite a team of expats now living in Saranda. This week it was amazing to see the power of the internet and how it can connect people from all around the world. Nearly all the expats here, I have met via the internet or through the expat Facebook group for Saranda, which is amazing. So, this week we had two events! One was for Thanksgiving as there’s quite a lot of expats from the USA living in Albania. Did you know that if you’re from the USA you get an automatic one-year visa to live and work in Albania?! Pretty amazing huh.
So, on Thursday was Thanksgiving, my first one too! Lots of food of course but the thing I am grateful for was it brought us all together in one place to get to know one another and to celebrate life in Saranda. When living in a foreign country it’s nice to have some friends from all over the world as well some local friends. I’m super grateful to be able to connect with so many amazing people online and I’m grateful to be able to show everyone the beauty of Albania! Tell me below what you’re grateful for.
This Friday wasn’t just any Friday, it was black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year. I spent quite a few days gathering ideas for the best gifts for my big blog post, the 34 best gifts for travellers so make sure you check that out here. I didn’t realise that the last time I made a gift guide was a couple of years ago and it was super popular, so I decided to update and make a new one. This is the peak time for shopping with the Black Friday deals and Christmas. We all know travellers are the hardest to buy for so hopefully that guide will give some cool ideas on what to get your travel-loving friends or family! Anyway, that has nothing to do with Albania so let’s move on to…. The ugly side of Albania.
Yes, the ugly side and I’m not afraid to say it. In every country, there are its downsides and when I write I’m very honest about the good and bad. If there’s something you should avoid, I’m going to say it because, at the end of the day, not every destination is perfect. One of Albania’s problems is the rubbish. With no recycling, not enough bins and a cultural norm to throw trash on the ground, it’s time to try and change the views of how rubbish is disposed of. A team of around 7 expats and a few locals decided to meet in one spot in the city to clean and try and show the others around that this is not okay.
The place where we picked was full of rubbish. It was a piece of land that had been used as a landfill by the neighbours for a long time. There were layers and layers of plastic, glass, clothes – you name it, it was here. It was so sad to see. Within the first hour, we had a lot of people watching, wondering what we were doing, yelling, local news filming and even an argument from an official stating that ‘this isn’t Saranda and that Albania has bigger problems’. The thing is we don’t need excuses, or to argue about who is responsible, because at the end of the day EVERYONE IS RESPONSIBLE. It’s everyone’s responsibility to look after their home, their environment, their country. Even though Albania does have bigger problems, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on this problem at all?!
But in the end, it was amazing to see the positivity that shone through. An old lady passed us sweets through the fence and told us Faleminderit with her hand on her heart (thank you in Albanian). People came to help or to just say thank you for caring which was really sweet. We even had children putting on gloves and helping us out.
We also had an amazing local business called Savos donate us lunch to say thank you and in support of the hard work (I literally order a skepasti from them about 3 times a week, they do great takeaway food in Saranda!). So, I would like to say from the bottom of my heart thank you for the locals getting involved and I hope in the future more people can get involved and that we can make this a regular thing in Saranda and all over Albania.
Clean-ups are important to not only clean up, but it also sends a message to the people who see. It makes people think twice before chucking something on the ground, and even if it changes one person’s mindset and stops one person from dropping rubbish, it’s worth it because it’s a ripple effect. I have a big article coming out soon which goes into more detail about the problem of rubbish throughout Albania.
I hope with the pressure of foreigners and the locals, we can push local governments to think about putting programs in place and to spread more education on the environment to help stop this problem. A problem like this effect’s tourism in a VERY negative way.
Embarrassing moment of the week?
I’m pleased to announce no embarrassing moments of the week! No falling upstairs, no awkward translations and Oreo did not fart in front of anyone. What an accomplishment.