The outlook of life for Albanians can best be described as mellow, private and pleasantly cheap.
Their golden rule goes something like ‘treat yourself the way you like to be treated and let the government do the rest.’ In which case, the government does not rise to the rule.
For this reason, there is a flourish of rubbish scattered across random stretches of road, beach and curbside. Not to mention the occasional line of rubbish bins—ironically, always empty.
Coming from Switzerland, I found it habitual to set aside the glass, plastic and paper for recycling purposes as I tidied up the dinner table. I was not far into my separating when my Albanian born boss tells me not to waste my time because in Albania…gasp…they do not recycle. Everything gets thrown into the same bin, or for many, thrown onto the same stretch of beach.
Amusingly, any business that has shoreline property will be sure to clean the rubbish until X marks the spot of their property line. The average hospitality professional would assume the mere view of rubbish from their client’s vacation spot, on and off the property, would be displeasing and unsettling.
“I clean my property, the Prime Minister can clean the rest,” said the owner of Bellavista, when asked why he doesn’t arrange a cleanup on the rubbish-erupting public beach next to his hotel.
Got it. It’s not his problem, nor his clientele concern. And that, my friends, sums up the Albanian attitude–you do your thing and I will do mine.
Want another example? Just talk to the water company…oh wait, they don’t care either. Three days into our Albanian vacation, the water was turned off in our beach house—no laundry, no dishes, no flushing. My boss goes on to tell me this happens every year when a few people in the neighborhood don’t pay their water bill. Instead of turning off just the perpetrator’s water supply, they turn off everyone’s water because it takes too much time and effort for the water company to do this individually.
The reason this Albanian attitude is so irking is because it’s squashing the potential that this area has to be a beautiful, hidden gem. Albania has a very unstable economy, with many families barely making enough money to obtain their basic needs.
According to the owner of the hotel where I stay, this area is a ghost town from mid-September until the end of May, then it is three months of hard work and holiday travelers, mostly from Albanian decent.
At such a financially dooming time, it would be advantageous for the Albanian attitude to work as a team—the locals, the business owners and the government—and capitalize on its tourist potential in order to bring more attention, more people and more money into the economy.
But first, they must distribute the overflowing scraps from beachside to bins.