Oppressed Elude Gung-Ho Journo in Albanian Bars

Another day I sneaked away to visit the Museum of Atheism - in those days, Albania was officially atheist. I made it inside long enough to glimpse a life-size poster of a leering mullah forcing a tearful Albanian girl to cover herself up in a burqa before I was hustled out by security guards and the curator. An English tour group had been so scandalised a few years earlier it was ordained that no English would be allowed in again.

…Our bus drove past throngs of young men and women lined up outside our hotel. They stared silent and uninterested.

A few moments later, a shout went up. The Germans had arrived. The crowd surged forward, shouting welcome.

“What the hell’s going on,” the Macclesfield Young Journalist of the Year and I asked the hotel barman, as people banged on the windows of the hotel to attract the Germans.

“Condoms,” he replied.

Albanian contraceptives, it turned out, were rudimentary. Its ageing factories produced condoms of thick, cheap rubber, about the width of a banana skin. They looked unpleasant. They must have felt worse.

So crowds of east Germans would finance their beach holiday to Albania by arriving with suitcases of contraceptives.

Later the hotel rocked as the Germans and Albanians partied, the Germans plied with free drinks, the Albanians slipping into the night with their precious supplies.</i>

[more]

We might make a trip into Albania while we’re in Bosnia. M already has a couple contacts there. We have heard it is a very beautiful country, bunkers and all; I’m just curious to see what the country most frozen in time looks like (although it has changed a lot since the period this article talks about).