i am from the heartland of the united states of america
i live in paris but also i go other places, too

i write about all those things when i can and then when i remember i put it on this website so other people can read about it if they want to

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

22 may - berat, albania

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.

even the main roads are crowded with animals and pedestrians.  a donkey pulls a cart of hay.  a flock of sheep blocks the opposite lane and stares down a bus.  they win.  they surround the bus and then move past it.  a group of men carry heavy plastic bags and the bus swerves around them.  mercedes benzes honk as they pass two at a time.  the road changes from paved to potholed to dirt.

i meet a older man from texas.  his name is frank.  we joke that they do not make us pay a fare until we've arrived because they will only charge us for the distance we successfully cover.  we are only partially joking.

frank wrote advertising copy and movie scripts.  he liquidated all his assets and left for europe.

'all i have,' he tells me, 'is in this bag,'  he pats a buttery leather weekender, 'and in the back of this minibus.  it's been three years.'  he doesn't even have insurance.  he is betting on his own health.  it is a bold but thought-through bet for a 77 year old.  i hope that no one steals his case from the trunk of the bus.

occasionally, the hills are dug out for stone.  the quarries interrupt the landscape like a wrong note.

on the streets, male friends walk in pairs arm in arm.  there's an intimacy here that i don't recognize.  it's comforting.

outside gjirokaster

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