Change is not something new in my Peace Corps service.
Albania is a dynamic place – and it seems like Lezhe especially is different every time I turn around. The lack of a credit culture or necessity for a business to be registered means that small businesses open and close with lightning speed. The main street here has a newly opened or closed business almost every time I return from being away for a few days. And, across the country, there are already new hotels and buildings occupying places I visited a year or two ago and they were pristine (like Dhermi beach). Albania is building, growing and evolving at a rapid pace…
My own moving on has meant I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting lately. Thinking about changes I have seen here in Albania in such a short time and what kinds of changes will happen in one, two, five or ten years before I am able to come back for a visit is pretty overwhelming.
I thought a lot about this on our recent hike through the area near Gjirokaster. It’s hard to avoid the evidence of dramatic chance in abandoned villages like Kaparjel (above) and not think about what might happen elsewhere as Albania evolves. For example, will the mass migration that emptied Kaparjel be the fate of villages I know and have visited that are thriving? Or, with the advent of new roads and tourism business opportunities, will people start to come back?
I would love to come back eventually and see what has changed, but, until then, I guess I have to focus on the changes on my own life….and on making sense of what the 2010 – 2012 Albania has meant to me.