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To celebrate six months of being in Albania, I decided to put together some of the more poignant photographs I have taken on my travels. I have taken hundreds of pictures since I have been here, but these are the ones that really mean something to me and that I think reflect what life is really like here. As you walk down the lake-front area in Pogradec, you will find many elderly men sat on any available bench or surface playing dominoes or backgammon.
The weather was about 5 degrees when this picture was taken and it has been raining on and off all day meaning that their love of socialising and playing their game is completely unaffected by the elements. There is no particularly poignant message with this photograph, but it just made me smile. It was a cold, grey, miserable, awful day in late February and seeing this happy message straddling the sidewalk made me stop to photograph it. The fact that everyone that passed me as I took the picture, was smiling as well made it even nicer.
This old chap walks around the Blloku area day in, day out and whatever the weather, playing interesting melodies on his fiddle. Seemingly following no particular tune or structure, I think he improvises on the spot. Nonetheless, the tunes have a distinctly Albanian sound and being a former violin player, it makes me happy to hear and see him.
This is a long lost and forgotten playground that sits outside the entrance to the extensive underground fortress. The peeling paint on the benches and the playground rides that were presumably only for the children of the chosen few is eerie and sad.
It was organised by a local activist- Arber Kodra, and included The American Ambassador and leading governmental, social, and political figures from every political party in the country. This was a first for Albania and whilst there is still a lot to be done, it marks a great step forward in the fight for equality.