Tirana, beautiful and sad, sad and beautiful; times that will be remembered

Spring has arrived in Tirana. The mimosas are blooming. The sky is blue and the sun is shining over the horizon. The heights and the slopes of the Dajti Mountain covered with a thin layer of snow. This year spring has found the city deserted like never before. My daughter and I are dancing, spinning around to the beautiful sounds of tunes of the tv swisspop music inside our appartment; my husband and our son each on their tasks; all in the dining room. Beautiful and sad; sad and beautiful at the same time. United like never before.

Schools, businesses, churches, mosques are closed. Time has stopped. The people confined in their homes. Tirana at the time of the coronavirus. A time to be remembered. And all this, in the time of democracy and coronavirus.

330 people are reported to be infected by the deadly virus, some are in the hospitals and others are isolated in their homes. 20 have died so far. Who knows how many are infected at large?! The contagion has found the poor country unprepared.

The main city’s avenue, the reknown Boulevard of Heroes, Skenderbeg’s Square and St. John Paul Street are empty and deserted at the time when I am walking. No tourists taking photos around. We used to see them a lot in the last years. Albania and Tirana had just started creating a place for itself among the Europe’s southeastern destinations trying to break into the dificult established tourism market. The country and its charms do not seem to work at the time of the coronavirus!

For the first time I could hear the singing of birds. No more cars and city noises. Nature takes over again and seems to take its rights back.

The cafes and restaurants are closed. This city does not make sense without them. The country does not have other established industry than these restaurants and cafes. The capital city lives thanks to them and they used to make Tirana such a beautiful and vibrant city. Notes of closures are displayed everywhere on the windows and doors of the cafes. The Cafe Bar Komiteti, whose name is a reminiscence and suggestive of the communist party political bureau committee shows the following note: “We like money but we like you even more, for your wellbeing Komiteti is closed as of today until further notice. Stay in your homes and drink a glass of raki and make much love”. But can we think of it in these times of contagion?! I wonder while holding the camera in my hands. The virus will be gone; it lives and lasts shorter than dicatorships.

Rare are people who think about the street cats and dogs in general. At these times of confinement, who could think that such a strange and beautiful sort people exist in my lovely Tirana?! But they do. I could tell it from the plates of food left at the the places frequented by the city’s street dogs and cats that have been abandoned and forgotten in the old derelict houses waiting to be swallowed by the real estates developers soon. They are heroes of my city.

Photography by Albi Beqiraj, animal rights activist

How long is this going to last?! Are we afraid, bored, tired?! Deep in my heart I know that this will end one day too, soon. Tirana will be Tirana again. She will come back to me brighter than ever.

Everything will be alright.

Arta Zimaj

20 thoughts

  1. Rare are people who think about the street cats and dogs in general. At these times of confinement, who could think that such a strange and beatiful sort people exist in my lovely Tirana?! But they do. I could tell it from the plates of food left at the the places frequented by the city’s street dogs and cats that have been abandoned and forgotten in the old derelict houses waiting to be swallowed by the real estates developers soon. They are heroes of my city.
    Thank you Arta❀️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A prosaic and sorrowful account of the crisis in Albania. A city thrives on its populace, but when they are locked up, and all is closed, it is an eerie desolate feeling. Time feels like it stands still. Boredom grows. How fragile and tenuous is this beast called society?
    The planet is reclaiming what it its. Nature will last, people and society are more transient. Take care, Stay safe. Greetings from Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would love to have seen your beautiful country. I am not able to travel any more, even after the virus goes away, but never mind, I can enjoy your lovely photographs. Best wishes.

    Like

  4. This is such a sad post but with wonderful writing and photos. I’m glad to know that the virus is being taken seriously here and hope the precautions will result in few cases and no deaths, unlike what we have here in the USA where it has been handled very badly. Wishing you, your family and all the people of Albania all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

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