Strange things at the beach

Beaches are the same all over the world. Deep blue sea. White sand. Palm trees (if you’re lucky). Fishing boats off the coast. Big colorful umbrellas dotting the shore.

It’s pure serenity.

But there’s something about the beaches in Albania that constantly keep me on my toes. Never a dull moment. Why, you might ask? Well, like everything else in this country that I love, it is full of contradictions. Welcome to the land of paradoxes.

While you sit in the sand enjoying the peaceful view of mountains behind you and endless sea in front of you, you are bombarded by the cacophony of venders. “Krofna! Hajde krofna!” After 20 days of hearing their various shouts as they pace up and down the shore, I can almost recognize their voices as they approach my lounge chair.

But never fear, because this is my favorite part. Not only do they sell the normal beach fair like deep fried donut holes smothered in chocolate syrup; but they also sell items that make you do a double-take every time. Like curtains. And bed sheets. And down comforters. And fake Nike basketball shoes. And used wallets. I could go on…but instead I’ll leave you with a stream of photos I took while sitting in Velipoja Beach enjoying the sights and sounds of summer in Albania.

Grilled corn from a wheelbarrow

Grilled corn from a wheelbarrow

The popcorn man (my personal favorite)

The popcorn man (my personal favorite)

Sunglasses stuck into a big sheet of styrofoam

Sunglasses stuck into a big sheet of styrofoam

Fruit by the kilo. Cherries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, you name it he's got it.

Fruit by the kilo. Cherries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, you name it he’s got it.

Miss-matched shoes of all shapes and sizes. Most of which I'm pretty sure are second--hand.

Miss-matched shoes of all shapes and sizes. Most of which I’m pretty sure are second–hand.

Wallets and purses or inflatable inner tubes? He usually has so many floaties that you can't even see the man underneath. It's just a wonderful walking blob of toys.

Wallets and purses or inflatable inner tubes? He usually has so many floaties that you can’t even see the man underneath. It’s just a wonderful walking blob of toys.

Bicycle plus frying pan equals freshly made donut holes brought directly to my chair. Heaven.

Bicycle plus frying pan equals freshly made donut holes brought directly to my chair. Heaven.

This one still gets to me. Why drive your homemade donut-maker on the street when you could borrow some 5-year-old’s paddle boat that he rented for the hour!

And this is how beach transportation works.

And this is how beach transportation works.

And some of my personal favorites, are the beach cows. That’s right. Beach cows. Oh and trash chickens. There’s no hiding it, Albania is a developing country. Despite the stunning beaches and nature, there’s no escaping the fact that it still has a long way to go. But in the meantime, I will do my best to not get freaked out when cows stroll next to me on the beach and chickens flock the dumpsters.

The infamous beach cows.

The infamous beach cows.

“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.”

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