There are conspiracy theorist all over the world. It’s true. So why does it strike as such a crazy thing in Albania? Maybe because the percentage of conspiracy theorists seems to be higher than anywhere else I’ve ever been in the world. I mean, like 100%. Okay probably closer to like 95%, but still. Out of control.
The good news? It always leads to fascinating conversations! Take my latest conversation with my counterpart and group of young teenage students. Before I begin though, you have to realize that these girls are some of the brightest and most intelligent girls I’ve met. Like ever. They are so cultured and interested in the world and they speak so many languages and they know so much more than I do in just about everything. No joke. But yes, they still believed that the world would end in December 2012 and all of those Mayan calendar myths.
So back to my story, I was sitting around a table late in the evening just talking about life, when the conversation shifted to America. No surprise there seeing as how I’m American an all. They started asking me what things were “true” and “not true” about America that they’d heard in the news or read online. Normally I love this conversation because it opens up so many doors. But this time it took a turn I wasn’t expecting.
Student A- “Danielle, is it true that Dick Cheney has a house in Kukes?” (that’s a city in northern Albania).
Me- “What?! Where did you hear that? I’m pretty sure Dick Cheney has never been to Albania.”
Student A- “There was a special on tv about him after the evening news one time. And it said he was accused of being a wanted criminal in Kukes.”
Student B- “Yea! I saw that too! He definitely has a house in Kukes where he does illegal things. Or maybe it was Kavaje?”
Student C- “No I think it was Bulqize. No wait it was Librazhd.”
Student A- “Anyway…we heard that he has a house here and he kills people who don’t have families and then cuts them open and takes all their organs and sells them in Kosovo to make money.”
Me- “WHAT?! Are you serious? I’m pretty sure Dick Cheney doesn’t need to traffic organs to make money.”
Student B- “No, it’s true. There’s proof. I know it. It was on tv.”
They then proceeded to explain how a politician in Albania is trying to sue him for this crime and bring him to justice in Albania because it’s all true and they know for sure that he did it. I just smile and shake me head. It’s not the first time I’ve heard an outlandish story like this one about famous people all over the world having issues in Albania.
My students could read the disbelief on my face and were probably a little frustrated that I didn’t jump on the bandwagon right off the bat. So they proceeded to explain to me how George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden were really good friends and business partners (they used to sells weapons and oil together you know). But then they got into a fight and that’s why 9/11 happened, as a result of their feuding businesses. It’s either that or the government planned the whole thing and blew up the Twin Towers on their own to start a war and win the hearts of the people. And something about how everything around 9/11 has the number 11 in it…the sum of the digits in the flight number, the appearance of the towers on the sky line, the number of terrorists in the group, the time the planes crashed, it goes on..
Again I just shake my head and say, “Well, I’m preeeeetty sure that’s not what happened.” But it’s like trying to tell someone that the sky is purple when they’ve spent their whole like thinking it’s blue.
I’ve had so many conversations like this in Albania and every time they take me by surprise. Most of my students are firm believers that the Illuminati is a real and that Rihanna is the queen of it. And that half of the movie stars and singers in America are Illuminati. Go ahead and try to prove that one wrong. I did have a good time explaining to that what her song “S & M” is really about though.
In a country that is so infatuated with superstitions and good luck charms, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that they all believe in crazy conspiracy theories like this. They hang stuffed animals on new buildings to ward off evil spirits. They touch their nose and say “marshallah” when a beautiful woman walks by because she might have the curse of the Blue Eye. They don’t cut their fingernails at night because it will bring good luck. And that’s just skimming the surface when it comes to Albanian superstitions.
I love them all those, because it’s what makes this country so unique and so different from home in Washington, D.C. But I will seriously laugh one day if the news breaks that Dick Cheney has been a trafficking organs in Albania this whole time.
“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.”