When Enver Hoxha, the political and cultural leader of Albania, died, the country's barrier to the outside world began to fall. The information gap maintained by Hoxha's communist party ensured that the Albanian people believe that their country was a world super-power, surrounded by a starving Europe. I was told that when the flood gates of information opened, disphoria and dissilusionment resulted in societal breakdown. Albania was pressed to find its foothold in its new reality as Europe's poorest country.
After a period of nearly two decades, that included political upheval, economic hardship and a year on the brink of anarchy, I came to Albania in March of 2007. During my two year stay, I found Albania and its people to be aquiring their cadence in adapting to its position in the world. While beginning to blend in with its neighbors, the unique communist-era culture is dimming, though not dulling. In the pangs of this transition, Albania is ripe with irony and contradiction, imprinting for me, a sublime beauty.