Love It Here?

A friend asked me if I love it here. Heck no! I think if I was young and energetic I might love it here but at this point it’s more of a feeling of being dazed and confused. I think someday I will love it.

I guess I pictured life here to be similar to Ecuador but much safer. Except for the safety issue, it’s not. The buses to town and back only run once per hour. I know the bus passes here at 5 minutes before the hour but once I get to town I have no idea when they run back this way, so there could be long waits after I’ve already walked more than my limit and am tired. And unlike Ecuador, taxis are really expensive.

In Ecuador I knew at least some rudimentary Spanish. Right now, I know essentially nothing in Shqip so everyone around me is speaking a completely unintelligible language, and given the very difficult pronunciation, I’m a little afraid to even try my luck at speaking. Even some of the words I thought I knew, I was thinking in American, not Albanian. For instance, the word for Thank You is faleminderit. Sounds simple enough, but the actual pronunciation is something like “fawl-a-meen-dare-eet. And roll the r!

So in stores I am still pointing and holding fingers up to indicate how much or how many I want. Then the clerk checks to see if he/she understands and I stupidly nod my head, which means No, so then I modify it and end up with my head going in some weird circle motion that nobody can figure out! Then my next thought is to say “si” which doesn’t work at all. I’m trying to remember to say “po” for Yes, instead of the head shake. No is “nr” but is pronounced something like “nr-r”. Shopping is pretty stressful, what with trying to figure out where to get off the bus, finding the store I want and communicating with shopkeepers, and it makes me hate myself for not being better at going with the flow. I wonder if I’d come when I was younger if I’d have been more confident in these strange situations.

But it’s fine, you know….nothing is horrible and in fact except for the increased walking, which I think is a good thing, my life here is not THAT different from life in Arizona or Ecuador…I read. A lot. Usually two to three books a day. I can’t afford to buy books but I do subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service for $11 a month and I use the heck out of it, so it’s well worth the cost. I also subscribe to a couple daily free ebook emails, a Facebook group called Readers’ Coffeehouse and I can get ebook loans from two US libraries.

One thing I never thought about was having to get around in inclement weather. This week, rain is forecast for every day, so I scooted out early Monday morning to stock up on the scant frozen meat offerings and more drinking water at the local Planet Market. I’m good here for several more days but most of the annual rainfall happens between October and February so there could be lots of these every-day-for-a-week rains. Ugh. Walking in the rain sounds romantic but in reality it’s just miserable, especially when you’re cradling a 15# jug of water in your arms like a baby, with no spare hands to hold an umbrella. Oh well.


4 replies on “Love It Here?”

Janis, I have been following you for a few years now, but this is the first time I have commented. There is an app called Babel that translates languages that you can get on your phone, you might look into it and see if it translates Shqip or other apps that do. I’ve read that there are other expatriates in Albania, mostly living in Tirana, Durres or Sarande, have you checked on expatfinder to see if there are any groups in your area you can hook up with?


Hi Susan! Babelfish (and most other translaters) don’t include Albanian. I have Google translate and one other but I really hate that metallic computer-generated voice in Google, and the other one is just plain awful….the pronunciation is even worse than mine! Sometimes I will show a store clerk my Google translation. I am already on the Sarandë and Albanian FB groups, thanks. I checked out Expatfinder on FB and decided I didn’t want to give them the personal information they required.


Sorry to here that there aren’t any apps that will work, I don’t blame you for not wanting to give your life details to anyone just to join a group. I would have thought that there would be a place that would teach a class in Shqip for people who come to live there. Is there another language that they speak there that is widely spoken? Stay safe and dry.


Oh sure, there are people who teach Shqip but I don’t really feel able to learn such a complicated language at my age. It’s said to be one of the most difficult for English speakers, because many of the sounds are so hard to pronounce! I just want to learn some very basic stuff.


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