journeys

Albania; An Exquisite Contradiction

A shepherd near the village of Bilisht, Albania. There are an estimated 1000 Albanians from Bilisht that now live in greater Waterbury, most coming to seek economic opportunity in America.

                              Story and Photographs By John Murray

    I rounded a corner in Fier, Albania, and encountered ten police officers standing on the side of the road gesturing towards me. Crap, I thought, here comes the shakedown. I pulled my rental car over and fumbled for my passport and rental agreement. I wondered how I’d manage with the few words of Albanian I knew; mirëdita, (good afternoon), faleminderit (thank you), jo (no) and po (yes).

    It was too late to learn, “Hi officer, Albania is a beautiful country and I look forward to writing about my experience with Prime Minister Edi Rama in my newspaper back in America.”

    As I watched three uniformed police officers surround my car I wondered how much this was going to cost me.

Baguettes And A Broken Heart

Chelsea Murray's wonderful new friend at the market in Ceret, France.

                     Story and Photographs by Chelsea Murray

   (Editors note - For the next several months Chelsea Murray is working her way across Europe on a network of organic farms. Chelsea and her boyfriend Michael Kaneb spent two weeks harvesting potatoes in Bavaria, in southern Germany, and are now harvesting olives for a month on a farm in the south of France. They hope to continue on through Spain, Portugal, Italy, Albania and Greece. Chelsea has been writing columns for the Observer (which is owned by her father) since she was 11 years old. She will continue to report her adventures as time and internet access allows.)

   After helping my farm host set up her stand at the market in Ceret, France (the city where Picasso, Dali and other artists had flocked to for inspiration), she informed me that I was a free woman and could wander around for a few hours to take in the sights, smells, and culture of a French market. My first moments alone were spent breaking from my vegan diet again (it's the lifestyle at the farm I'm working at), and sampling hoards of cheeses, meats, delicious baguettes and perusing through people’s wares.

Letting Go

Celebrating 20 years of publishing The Waterbury Observer, John Murray decided to leap out of an airplane 10,500 feet above Connecticut. The plunge reminded Murray that launching a business with no money, or chasing dreams of world travel all have one thing in common, facing fear, and letting go.

                                    Story By John Murray
                          Photographs By SkyDive Danielson

   For most of the twenty-minute ascent I tapped into breathing exercises, and positive imagery, to try and keep myself calm.

   “That’s the University of Connecticut,” said Norm Nault, my tandem skydiving instructor, “and if you look to the south you can see Long Island Sound.”

   At 5000 feet my attempt to relax faltered, and the metallic taste of fear marched across my tongue. I looked around the plane - which was no bigger than a car - and checked on my daughter, Chelsea. If I was starting to lose it, I was sure Chelsea’s heart was clanging against her chest. Chelsea was tandem jumping with instructor Scott Barylski, a dead ringer for actor Ben Stiller. There was something comical, and terrifying, about hurling yourself out of a tiny airplane with Derek Zoolander strapped to your back.