I had just spent a hot August-day exploring the ancient ruins of Butrint, one of two World Heritage sites in Albania. Waiting for the ferry to Corfu, I ambled about the streets of the port city Sarandë. Soon, I was accosted by a large, unruly group of local teenagers, asking for money. They were so many, I started to feel uncomfortable. So when the group spotted a more promising prospect, I took the opportunity to sneak away around a corner.
That’s when I met this boy. Sadly, my Albanian was limited to a minimum repertoire of c’kemi, faleminderit, and nuk kuptoj (hello, thank you and I don’t understand, respectively), so we had no common language. Instead, we communicated through drawings in the flower bed and facial expressions. For a long time, we sat on this ledge.
After taking this photo, I offered him a few lekë and a packet of Juicy Fruit. He happily accepted the gum, but to my surprise he declined the money. When I had to return to the main thoroughfare to catch the ferry, he walked ahead and peeked around the corner before smilingly giving me the all-clear.
This was in 1992. He must be a young man now, about 30. Occasionally, I wonder how his life in the new Europe is. You just don’t hear that much from Albania.
As I always say, it’s the people we meet that make our travels memorable. It would be fun to go back and try to find him and meet the man he has grown into.
Who Knows, maybe he will see this and get in touch:-)
The people you meet on your travels are ultimately what defines a place and a moment…
What a lovely walk down memory lane! One of the best things about travel are these moments with strangers who stay with us forever.
Love this story – and the boy with the watermelon.
Thanks for the nice comments, everyone 🙂
Funny how haunting the seemingly smallest interactions can be…
Hi Anne-Sophie! I’ve just realised I didn’t leave a comment before, I’m so sorry. I remember visiting too! Please forgive me, it’s been a busy month.
Anyway, just letting you know that judging is underway for the August Grantourismo Comp. We should be announcing the winners later today and posting the September contest details as well on the site http://grantourismotravels.com/ Thanks again for your entry and best of luck!
Sweet little story, this.
cool. i could use suggestions from bloggers like your self to have my sites right. good info, well developed.
hello, the boy in the picture is doing well, he is still in albania. if you want more info let me know
i am the boys from saranda in the photos my name is detjon vuria i am 27 yars i livin saranda please kontact
Hi Barbara,my name is Jonida and i was really surprised reading this story because i am the wife of the boy in the picture,he is doing well and he has a little girl.His name is Detjon Vuria and he is 28 years old.If you want to contact him you can find him on Facebook.Respects.
Hi Detjon and Jonida,
What fun hearing from you – I’ll send you an e-mail now.