an old man sits with his back to a fence outside a convenience store in an one road, agrarian town. his face holds deep lines and dark ridges. his skin is twinkling brown. he clutches his knees close to his chest and keeps his legs close together. i wonder what he's seen. i wonder about his brothers.
his hair is white and pulled back.
other men stand around him; two in suits, two in blue jeans with loose, short sleeved button-up shirts. they speak and some smoke cigarettes.
a boy bathes in the river in western tirana. men and women pack the streets and sidewalks. older men wear loose, short sleeved collared shirts and polos. younger men wear tight t-shirts. the old buildings are faded. cherry merchants stand every two hundred meters; a large, bulging plastic bag sells for 110 leke -- 80 cents.
a young woman walking her large dog invites us to her apartment for tea. we are initially wary but follow her. in the apartment, her boyfriend, a very thin young man sits shirtless at the coffee table watching soccer highlights and rolling a joint. his face is gaunt. he used to live in los angeles but was deported after immigration services discovered that he was attempted to secure a sham marriage. he seems resentful despite openly admitting that he paid a woman ten thousand dollars to marry him. his girlfriend appears to understand. it is a bizarre situation.
he asks where are going next and we tell him peja, kosovo.
'pec,' he says, suddenly alert, 'why are you going there?' we didn't answer right away. 'it's filthy. it's a filthy country, the city, the people are filthy. it is still very dangerous. you will be attacked.' he is practically spitting. we steer the conversation elsewhere. we are not attacked in kosovo.
on the bus old women converse with jutted jaws and knobby chins. one has swollen legs, varicose veins in her feet, from many years upright. her ankle is wrapped to hide the ugly, heavy. her husband wears light red. the creases in her face spell long forgotten words and syllables, suns, moons. the women wear simple shirts of solid colors.
note: the following travel posts are mostly observational and all non fiction and written in buses and will be further polished and developed. that's why they might not be good.
15 may - zadar, croatia
it's dalmatian. the cigarettes are so cheap they're almost free. i sit on the base of the statue outside of the bus station and a man in a sporty polo and sandals bursting with toes approaches me and expects one -- he doesn't ask. i comply and offer my lighter. he pats his breast pocket. maybe i owed him one in another life. i silently thank him for his patience.
there's sand and hay-colored grass. i hardly understand any words.