Monday, January 5, 2009

Good News

I was wrong and I'm glad. A few posts down I wrote about the upcoming holiday season and how bad the traffic would be. I predicted chaos on the roads and a surging casualty count. I'm pleased to report Albania and it's drivers didn't live up (or down) to my expectations.

Oh, the traffic was bad enough this year. The head of the border police, Pellumb Nako, reported over 100,000 vehicles had crossed into Albania for the New Year holiday. That seems like a lot, but the streets of Tirana were teeming with Greek and Italian license-plated cars and I'm sure the situation was the same in all the major cities of Albania. Despite this deluge, there were relatively few reported traffic accidents. The weather was also very bad for driving, with up to a meter of snow in the mountains.

There were some crashes, including a few fatalities, mostly on the Highways of Death listed below. One unusual accident did grab my attention. Seems a late-night reveler got a little frisky with the throttle in the rain while heading down the boulevard next to the Lana river and went off the road. I imagine the internal dialogue went something like this:

"I can probably go just a little faster here..... Ooops, starting to slide left, better hit the brakes! Damn, where'd that curb come from. This is gonna suck! OK, a rollover. Not too bad. Car skidding along the grass on its roof .... Oh crap! Not the river, not the river. Get ready to roll again. What? Upside down IN the river. OK, it's not so bad. It's not too deep.... But it's the Lana!"

No doubt this driver headed home quickly for a long, hot shower. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of strolling along the Lana, let me illuminate you. The river serves as informal sewer for a good part of Tirana and is populated only by the elusive "Lana Brown Trout," if you get my meaning.



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Anonymous said...

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