Trouble in paradise

Hi everyone!

I’ve been slow on my updates lately so that is why I am now posting 3 at the same time. I’ve been on a lot of different adventures from hell to heaven and I will now tell you why… starting at the bottom

This blog post is an analyze of one of the tourism services you might not think about in the first place but is very important for a tourist to feel comfortable in the visiting country. This blog post is about: The Police

Stranger Danger!
On my trip up to Tirana that I made last weekend to meet up with my parents visiting me from Sweden my camera bag was stolen on the bus. Someone managed to unclasp the bag strap (that I had wrapped around my legs for protection) from the bag while I was sitting on the bus so when I stood up to leave the only thing left was the strap around my legs. Inside I also had my Iphone and cash. Panic, sadness, annoyance, anger, sadness, anger etc emotions followed and repeated themselves again and again. Theft. ARGHHHH

Anyway…this blogpost is about the actions that follows afterwards and how it is to be a tourist in Albania in another sense (not common at all I have to add). In Albania they have this custom called Besha “honoured guest” and theft is very rare – but Tirana is a capital so of course it is more international in that way.

So, I stood up – noticed the bag was lost and hurried to find and check in to my hotel to turn on “find my Iphone” app. Unfortunately and not so surprisingly the phone had been switched off. I then asked for directions for the police station and hurried over there. When I came in I told my case to three different men in the reception and one of them finally understood and led me to an office upstairs. I told an important looking man the story and he listen and nodded and after 10 minutes he said “You’re in the wrong office – this is customs and taxes office”
I was surprised that he had listen to my story all the way through and wondered why I was taken there to begin with?

Does anyone actually understand English or do they just pretend?

Well, the man led me to another building where he left me in another reception. I told my story to another officer behind the counter  – he nodded then disappeared- another man came- he nodded and disappeared etc etc finally someone said “come here” from around a corner. I was lead behind the reception and placed on a chair. On this chair I sat for a long time staring into a wall while a cleaner swept the floors. After a while the first officer came back and took me outside and placed me in a police car. Two other officers jumped in and the first one left. I waited for something to happen – if you are in a car usually you drive somewhere. A young officer walked up to the car and tapped on the window. I opened the window and he (of course) asked me to tell him why I was sitting there. I didn’t know why I was in the car but told him my story. He listened, nodded and then turned away. 10 minutes later he came tapping on the window again and asked me the same thing. Deja vu! Then he left and didn’t come back. Meanwhile the guys in the car just sat there waiting for something. After a while 5 other police man came up to the car laughing. They started pushing the car and I realized that we had been waiting simply because the car needed a push start. (really good car for hunting down criminals). Finally the car started and we drove off into Tiranas sunset rush hour.

We were stuck in crazy traffic and rain rain rain for a long time, I was very tired at this point. The whole “lost in translation” situation was getting weirder and weirder – the sadness over my stole things was replaced with annoyance over such a strange system. And where were we going??

We drove around Tirana and pulled up by another police station. Later I realized this was because this station was closer to the bus stop. The same procedure as before started over. I was placed on a chair in the reception and a lot of people stopped by asking me what I was doing there, asked me to tell them my story and then mysteriously they all left. Finally one man who actually could speak English showed up and told me that we were waiting for a certified translator. I waited 2 hours on that pin chair in a cold reception with only 3 broken watches covering a dirty splashed white wall. Broken chairs and paper peaces scattered about the floor, a receptionist parked behind a tilting desk typing on an old type machine, now and then answering a big old black phone while typing some more. It looked like a movie set from some old James Bond movie. I started to feel that I was in a time machine and thought I was dreaming. But that pin chair was too stiff to fall asleep on and the rain chill from the open door to cold to allow anything else than constant shivers.

Just when I thought about abandoning the whole idea of reporting the theft a woman showed up – the translator! I told her my story and she said “Ok – let’s go!” … Let’s go? Where? But she didn’t stay to listen to my questions – she rushed out the door and down the steps and into a police car. The other police was there to and I got in the back seat and we drove off.

Then they told me we were now in pursuit for the bus in which I had traveled. They said the bus driver must know who took my bag because he knows everyone in Albania. (What??) So we drove around and around and around Tirana while they pointed at different buses asking “Is it this one??” – No.”Is it this one?? – No.
I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry – the whole situation seemed like a joke. Like the thieves would just sit on that empty bus (probably on its way back to Gjirokastra) and wait for the cops to arrest them.

After some time the cops probably realized that we would not find the bus so they took me back to the station. Once again I was back on my favorite chair, in my favorite room. 1 hour I waited for something to happen. I started asking the woman hiding behind the desk but she only smiled and held up a finger ”wait” and continued typing. I gave up on her. To my luck someone finally decided to call the Swedish embassy as they figured that the official English translator woman wasn’t good enough – the report should be from Swedish to English to Albanian to be good enough. Mikael from the Swedish embassy finally showed. He wasn’t swedish but I couldn’t care less and I don’t think they did either in the end. Mikael asked me why I hadn’t called the embassy right away. Well, that thought actually never crossed my mind. Usually to file a police report takes 30 minutes at the station. I didn’t need a Swedish ambassador to help me with such a simple thing…or so I thought.

Mikael and I went upstairs to a room where two tired investigators were waiting. I told them my story again while Mikael translated. To my surprise they laughed at me and said I was lying. Why would anyone steal in Albania and who could steal a bag in such a way in a bus?? Mikael got mad and told them that they should keep their thought to themselves – this is what happened and you will write it down!! I was then beginning to see why bringing an ambassador was the right thing to do. We sat in the office arguing about my story and etc for a while. They wrote down three pages about my life, what I was studying, what I was doing in Albania etc etc. It went on and on and on. In the end, as a final drama, they didn’t want to give me the police report. The angry investigator told me he had paid for the paper and the ink for the printer himself. And then he added that they don’t give out police reports in Albania, they are not official and they only go to court. But Mikael somehow managed to convince them to print an extra copy for me and then he said “Ok – let’s go quickly before they change their minds”

And so we left this awful place and Mikael drove me to my hotel asking me If I had money to eat, If I needed more help, such a kind and helpful man. I was so tired i stumbled into my hotel room after buying loads of chocolate at the nearest shop. I probably looked like I had been in prison for a year – and so it felt.

7 hours later I had finally a report in my hand but none of my precious things. An awful day to say the least. I felt sorry for myself, ate a lot of chocolate and the fell asleep. End of story.

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