A tie. Hard to find a souvenir without Albania's flag stamped on it. My favorite, a fridge magnet:
Superman pulling open his cloak to reveal the double headed eagle! The lone star? Everywhere. Saw it discreetly inside a crucifix and living large on the side of an outhouse.
Texas because it sees itself so big, Albania because it knows it's so small even the Yugoslav Communist Party was a threat. So it allied itself with China. (Too far away to invade!)
Texas always takes on the world too. In Galveston," The free world's only remaining genuine government surplus store."
Well...Albania's Communist leader abolished religion in the mid sixties. Maybe that's why there are not so many churches around though quite a few mosques. Ironic, as Albanians are famous for their religious tolerance. Texans must be too: they have so much to digest: Holy Zion Lutheran,
Church of the Hills, Island in the Sun Church, Straight Gate Church, Cowboy Church, Encouragement Church. Crosses on store fronts, a large one outside someone's bedroom window.
OK Trees, Weather and Fruit
Tall, elegant chestnut trees in the center of Tirana. Live oaks in Texas, such a presence in towns
and out. Weather? Killer hot in Texas, Adriatic mellow in Albania. Fruit? Peaches everywhere in Texas but picked hard and thrown in a cooler. "Cherries are over" we were told in Albania probably because we got there in July and the Albanian name for June is "Cherry month."
Off the Beaten Track
Like Albania, we took the less beaten tracks. Row of women in a line, haymaking. Folk herding sheep. Up through Texas hill country, tally of road kill: two raccoons, armadillo, young deer, one
turkey buzzard, two wild hogs. Tiny places, small names. Made me think of those old war movies:
"Where you from, son?" "Brady, Texas, sir." "Mason, Texas, sir."
Success! The elegant book shop in the center of Tirana now has twenty four copies of Kosova Kosovo, while a book club in Houston has just acquired twenty copies of Orchid Territory and together with Austin, (Heart of Texas Orchid Society) I sold another fifteen. And now I have another selling point for Kosova : "It's cheaper here than in Albania!"
- I sold about another fifteen.