Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Life in Communist Albania

We wandered downtown yesterday afternoon. There had been some showers in the morning, but by after lunch it was a pleasant day.

It's only about 2 kms (1.6 miles) to downtown, but we took a bit of a different route because we wanted to see a small archeological site in a nearby neighborhood. 

Back in the early 1970's they had been excavating a site to build a new apartment building when they came across an ancient Roman settlement. One section of an intricate mosaic floor was uncovered and preserved, as well as a few other objects. 

There is still work going on at the small site.

Other than the floor, there's not much to see.

Good thing it's free!


A big pot they put together.

This is the best section of floor.

The site is only good for about a ten minute visit, but it was still interesting. The ancient Romans were sure good at making these mosaic floors. Can you imagine how much time this took?

The central plaza in Tirana.

From there, we walked to the central area to the BunkArt 2 Museum. We don't often do museums... I always say that you can only look at so many pieces of broken pottery. But this one was a bit different. It's dedicated to the victims of the Communist terror that took hold of Albania between 1947 and 1991, and details some of the bad parts of life under dictator Enver Hoxha.

The museum is located in an underground bunker in central Tirana. This underground bunker was built to protect the government in the event of nuclear attack. 

Of course Canada also had a similar bunker during the Cold War period. It has also been turned into a museum. We visited that bunker back in 2012.

Bunker walls are about four feet thick.

Ruth, doing some reading.

It was 500 lek ($6 CAD, $5 USD) entrance fee. Not bad if you are prepared to spend about two hours there reading everything there is to read... and there is a lot of reading!

Most of it details the various police forces that were formed in order to secure the borders and make sure nobody could get in or out of the country. And how people became informants to the government, even neighbors and siblings who would tell the government if you disagreed with their policies.

Whacko stuff.
Some people made it out alive, but it was risky business.

Three steel doors connected the bunker to the Ministry of the Interior.

Where all the big decisions would be made.

Anonymous letters sent to the government against the regime.

They had a whole department trying to analyze who wrote the letters so they could be found an punished.

There was a period in the 1970's when foreigners could visit, under very strict rules.

And a lot of it detailed the harsh conditions of the prison camps where you were sent if you didn't tow the party line. Many people were tortured or executed. Nasty stuff. On the other hand, if you kept your mouth shut and did everything you were told, you could lead a fairly normal life as a trusted comrade. 

For decades Albania was eastern Europe's most closed and repressive state. During his 40-year reign, former communist leader Enver Hoxha banned religion, forbade travel and outlawed private property. Any resistance to his rule was met with brutal retribution, including internal exile, long-term imprisonment or execution. In light of this past, Albania has made substantial progress toward respect for civil and political rights.

Interesting stuff.

Oh, while we were downtown we had walked by the vaccination tents set up in the central area. They weren't very busy, so we figured we would go and ask about vaccination, even though I was 95% sure what the answer would be.

As expected, they are only doing essential workers, tourist industry workers, and people over the age of 60 wanting their second shot. Also, they are only giving the Chinese Sinovac vaccine just now, so that wouldn't do us any good for travel given that it is not one of the approved vaccines for Europe.

Today, we are taking a cable car up into the mountains!

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Great deal on this 80 Pack of K-Cup Coffee Pods

And in Canada...


4 comments:

  1. Very good post. Mexico could learn some lessons from Albania's past.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris! Definitely not a past you would want to have to live in.

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  2. Very interesting and yes not a past that would be pleasant to live in but it sure seems nice now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, definitely so much better here today than what it was like years ago. We really do love it here in Albania.

      Delete

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