Roads, Theth, Electricity…

Editorial / June 21, 2011

Ky postim ekziston gjithashtu në Vesionin Shqip

I came to the idea of writing this editorial one evening following to an animated conversation in a stone-paved room in the Northern Albanian village of Theth. The room was poorly lit, and our faces were partly immersed in darkness. Somebody was passionately arguting that the village of Theth ought to remain as it was, that is, as it was a couple of centuries ago. That was, to his opinion, the only way to attract tourists interested in the prehistoric-looking lifestyle of the area. He further argued that an asphalted road connecting Theth to the rest of the world would doom Theth forever and would add nothing new to the world. On the other hand, I maintain roads bring along new life and progress, and I don’t hesitate to say that no-one in the world ought to treat his or her fellow man as a guinea-pig. Even though the remote village of Theth is loudly praised by the state institutions as one of Albania’s most precious natural landscapes, it is still too far away for the average tourist, because it’s simply quite out of reach. On the other hand aficionados of climbing might readily embark on an adventure trip, just for the fun of making it to Theth – yet that would still keep most tourists away. The 74 years-old Fran, a local inhabitant speaks out against the idea of our friend who would gladly keep Theth forever in pre-historic times. Fran spends half of the year in the town of Shkodra; he spends the other half in Theth. He says the trip is excruciating, because the road is so bad. The inhabitants of Theth need the road, he says. Especially those who drive cars would like to save some maintenance money that cost them a real fortune every month. Fran points out at the lack of electricity by claiming he had to throw away plenty of foodstuff last year, because the fridges won’t run. Of course you have to revert to ancient methods when electricity is missing. You can’t have a proper shower, you can’t watch TV, you have to wash your clothes by hand, and that does not come easy if you’re some 70 years old. You don’t see anything related to state administration in Theth, at least not at first sight. Of course there is a head of commune and a handful of state employees, yet that’s just too little to improve the lives of the inhabitants of Theth. There are people who want to keep Theth just the way it is: alone, poorly supplied, and utterly remote. There is no health centre in the village. People ought to think twice before starting their trip to Theth. You hardly get decent transport. Drivers are never punctual, cars break down all the time…That’s the reality of the tourism you can do in one of Northern Albania’s most beautiful areas. The contrast between the natural beauty and the human condition is striking. Yet, is Theth worth visiting? Of course it is. It’s a hard journey, but at the end it pays off. Maybe one day the living conditions will improve and you will be able to spot out paved streets, recycle bins, streetlights and a touristic system that would preserve some of Theth’s original beauty by keeping it out from the hectic of modern lifestyle. Yet that should happen pretty soon, so as to avoid the usual invasion of the concrete building blocks that would definitely ruin the wonderful idyllic landscape marked by its old stone-built towers, so as to avoid that an unusual piece of earthly paradise is transformed into the usual bit of hell…

Ky postim ekziston gjithashtu në Vesionin Shqip

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Irena Shabani
Is an Albanian freelance journalist and human rights activist specialising in investigative journalism. She co-founded Panorama, the leading newspaper in Albania, where she served as managing editor from 2002 to 2003. Prior to Panorama she was a journalist at Shekulli and Gazeta Shqiptare and has been part of the Albanian Human Rights Group from its beginning. She has collaborated on programmes for the International Research and Exchanges Board, investigating topics involving crime and political corruption and continues to collaborates with foreign organisations and local media focused on social problems and minority rights.

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Thethi, Parajsa E Egër E Shtojzovalleve…

This post also exists in English Version Nëse e keni të vështirë të besoni te zanat dhe te shtojzovallet, shkoni në Theth,...

June 9, 2011