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The International Writers Magazine: Places to Explore

Albania - Nation in Transition
• Fred C Wilson 111
The Republic of Albania borders Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. Albania’s coastline is as long as the country. The newly democratized country is a member of a number of important international organizations paramount among them the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.


One of the pugnacious Balkan countries Albania needs all the help it can get. Until the collapse of Western Communism few outsiders visited Albania. Like North Korea Albania was isolated from the world. With the lifting of the infamous Iron Curtain people are eager to learn more about the land, customs, cuisine and how ordinary Albania’s get on with life. It has applied for full membership in the European Union.

Albania, Israel, Afghanistan, Poland, the Koreas, and Belarus all share a common quality. All six nations are geographically located in geographical buffer zones coveted and fought over for millennia by stronger neighbors. Conquered then abandoned by the Romans, Albania sits on the line of countries that divided East and West. After the barbarian invasions ebbed and flowed it was the Ottoman Empire that ruled the roost. Albania achieved independence in 1912 though a series of fly by night wannabe dynasties ruled briefly. In 1943 Albania was made a Nazi protectorate; then the communists came shortly after the war. It remained a communist slave state during the Cold War enduring decades of misrule under ruthless dictator Enver Hoxha. In 1992 Albania became a parliamentary democracy.

There are many notable Albanian-Americans. The beautiful writer, actor, and humanitarian Masiela Lusha come to mind. Among her many film and television credits are ‘The Last Vampire.’ She played Carmen Lopez on TV’s comedy sitcom ‘The George Lopez Show’ and in the ‘Ballad of Broken Angels.’ This talented young woman has written several books in different languages including poems and prayers by Mother Teresa. Recognized as one of America’s top ten poets she’s founded the non-profit Children of the World Foundation and donated 10 acres of land for its community center. A native Albanian but moved to Michigan Ms. Lusha uses her triple gifts of beauty, brains and natural goodness for the benefit of global society.

Everybody’s heard of the actor, singer, and talk show host Regis Francis Xavier Philbin. A former U.S. Marine born in 1931 who served in the Pacific is an Irish-Albanian. I was an avid fan of his game show ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’. My wife and I used to watch it religiously. We would pretend we were in the ‘hot seat’ and peal off mostly correct answers. She was good answering questions about popular culture; my specialty was ones that dealt with art, politics, world history, religion, and philosophy. My wife urged me to contact ‘Phil’ for an audition. I took the plunge and wound up talking person to person with Regis. He asked me to name to past 10 global peace conferences. I wasn’t nervous but being a military history enthusiast my knowledge of world events centered around conflict rarely peace. I muffed it. Phil politely thanked me, wished me well, and that was that.

I live in Chicago the birthplace of world class Albanian-American comedian the late John Belushi. John got his start in Second City the city’s premier theater and comedy night spot. ‘Saturday Night Live, Animal House,’ and ‘Blues Brother’s all top rated shows thanks largely on the comedic efforts of Belushi. In life John stayed connected with his Albanian heritage. He received honorary Albanian citizenship by President Bamir Topi. His brand of comedy is sorely missed by his many fans.

Tops on my list of Albanian notables is Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu this Albanian born Catholic religious sister founded the Missionaries of Charity a global Catholic humanitarian organization. The India based sisters run hospices for people suffering from HIV, leprosy, tuberculosis, soup kitchens, orphanages, schools, family centers, orphanages and over 1,000 birth control (natural) clinics to help curb India’s burgeoning birth rate. The sisters take a 4th vow (promise) to give wholehearted and freely to the poorest of the poor. Cited by the Gallup poll people’s Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century, winner of the Nobel Prize, and recently beatified (publically recognized as a holy person) by the Pope she won many other honors during her long life of loving service.

In 1967 during the communist era Dictator Enver Hoxha boldly proclaimed Albania an atheist state when he declared “There is no god in Albania!” Hoxha said this after his recent campaign of terror, destruction of religious centers, and outright murder of Albanian clerics. Historically speaking his attitude shouldn’t surprise. Situated at the crossroads of Europe Albanians has periodically changed ‘gods.’ During the Apostolic era the country was Christian then Muslim when consumed by the Islamic Ottoman Empire; during the Cold War communist, then went up for grabs during the 1990’s when the UN had to help stabilize the country. With the coming of democracy sectarian strife appears to be on the wane as all religions are tolerated.

Albanian cuisine like the country took hundreds of years to develop. Greece, Serbia, Italy, Ottoman Empire, Germany all laid claim to tiny Albania; those conquerors influenced the nation’s cook pot. More than likely you’ve eaten at Greek restaurants. In close proximity to Greece you can picture the similarity. Traditional foods like olive oil, peppers, tomatoes, preserved meats, olives, and other Balkan bill a fare are staples on the Albanian table. Unlike us Americans their main meal is lunch though each region has their own specialties. I won’t take up page space by writing lengthy recipes you can do that on your computer.

The art of every nation is influenced by the dominant culture Albania no exception. During the 500 years of Ottoman rule (1478-1912) Islamic artistic traditions held sway. With Islam’s prohibition against pictorial representations of human beings, the art of the mural, the mosaic and calligraphy ruled the day. In 1912 after Albanians told the Ottomans to ‘shove it’ did any real artistic innovations occur. To get a working idea of the evolution of Albanian art type in ‘Albanian Art’ in your Search Engine. You’ll be surprised at numbers of artistic masterpieces produced by native artists.

There is plenty to do in Albania if you know where to look. Whenever I travel I mingle with the people. I stay in hotels and eat in restaurants recommended by the locals, meet people and save plenty money. Albania a non-English speaking country a few years removed from totalitarianism. I urge you to log in to the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory for Albania or go to These sites have everything you need to know about Albania and much more. Getting on an airplane passport in hand wouldn’t be a good idea unless you check with Uncle Sam first.

After you read their travel advisory take in a virtual tour of Albania. One of the best I’ve found was don’t have enough page space to give you a complete rundown on all the sights to see and things to do in this Balkan country. The National Art Gallery is among the many things to see on your visit to Albania. In Downtown Tirana the national capitol the gallery encompasses Albania’s art experience. However recheck the aforementioned travel advisory for safe eateries near the building.

After centuries of being the footstool of Europe the Albanian people are justifiably rough. The Albanian Mafia is the most ruthless of its type in the world. Those folks don’t play! Running a global crime empire the 15 families who comprise the Albanian mob’s organizational structure are also among the most diversified and organized. A hybrid organization involved in crime and political organizing they run criminal enterprises in child prostitution, human, arms, and drug trafficking, and kidnapping. There’s a good chance that in the city where you live there are very active elements of Albania’s crime syndicates causing problems.

Reader when touring Albania or other countries, don’t get involved in unsavory sexual situations. Don’t criticize local politics and please don’t poke fun of the religion. Case in point I had a globe trotting job associate. This guy, an ex-US Marine told me of the time he visited Romania during the Cold War years. There was this loud, obnoxious and abrasive American who sat opposite him in a restaurant. During dinner this clown shouted, swore at the wait staff and complained about the ‘lousy food served in this commie dump-blah-blah-blah!’ To make a long story short some locals waited for him outside and beat him to an inch of his life. The guy was in traction for six months! Any violation of part or all of the above advice will lead to an ass kicking of mega proportions! Reader do as I suggest and you’ll be alright; enjoy Albania.

I've been writing freelance for 15 years. I’ve written for the Asian Express, Chicago Artist Coalition, Senior Connections, CTU, Epoch Times, published a 4 star book ‘Jaded Rose,’ and am writing another book. I’m a columnist for ‘Megascene’ Newspaper which serves the Asian-American community. I’m a regular contributor for Yahoo. I've written on a variety of topics.

© Fred C. Wilson III
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I've been writing freelance for 15 years. I’ve written for the Asian Express, Chicago Artist Coalition, Senior Connections, CTU, Epoch Times, published a 4 star book ‘Jaded Rose,’ and am writing another book. I’m a columnist for ‘Megascene’ Newspaper which serves the Asian-American community. I’m a regular contributor for Yahoo. I've written on a variety of topics.
Turbulent Afghanistan
Fred C. Wilson III

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is landlocked, mountainous. It connects Asia at all four corners of the compass.

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