Albania

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Lidge, Albania, October 2006. Our friend Veledin with his mother in  this remote hamlet located on a beautiful cliff.

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Shushice, Albania, October 2006. Money collected for the Gipsy orchestra at a wedding.

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Shushice, Albania, October 2006.   Gipsy drummer at wedding. Batteur gitan lors d’un mariage.

Throughout the Balkans, Gipsies are scorned… except when they are needed for their exceptional music. On méprise les Gitans à travers les Balkans — et ailleurs ! — sauf quand on a besoin d’eux pour ramasser les récoltes ou jouer leur sublime musique.

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Lidge, Albania, October 2006.  Two — male — relatives sing cantatas on the eve of the marriage of the daughter of the house. Deux membres — males — de la famille chantent des cantates à la veille du mariage de la fille de la maison.

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Lin, Albania, October 2006.  Boy collects empty cans by lake Ohrid. Garçon récupérant des vidanges de boissons à proximité du lac Orhid.

Eight cars out of ten are (old or brand new) Mercedeses in this country, but poverty is still widespread. Bien que huit voitures sur dix soient des Mercedes (vieilles ou flambant neuves), le pays est toujours très pauvre.

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Nea Kallikrateia, Greece, August 2009. Albanian on a visit in the neighboring country. Un Albanais en visite au pays voisin.

Preka was still bodyguard for the Albanian president, traveling as far as Washington DC. Now that he is no more, the Greek officals shamefully turned him back at the border. You wouldn’t tell of course, he looks much sweeter than any bodyguard I know – am thinking about the Manchurian Candidate’s we recently watched, and the real ones I saw close up in Baku, one year ago, when I bumped into Serial Killer Cheney who had gone to talk Azerbaijan against Russia over the very recent Georgian war.

Yet, Preka also looks like General Raoul Cédras, Haiti’s mestizo dictator from 1991 to 1994. His sister calls him African, and he does indeed have short curly hair and a darker skin. He was a bodyguard for a quarter century, “I started under Enver Hoxha, then Berisha, etc”, he said with a big grin while we were swimming. He looked in fact so nice we postponed our departure for the mountain and invited him and his sister over.

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