I do love you Albania

How many times does my country have to surprise me before I finally admit it is beautiful? When I was little I used to believe that the sea was turquoise only in the Caribbean and that the grass was greener on the other side. That was because I grew up in a time when my country was in transition from a communist regime and shortly after that, like we needed any more chaos, a civil war took place.

I grew up in the capital, but it mostly looked like one of those cities that had just gone out of World War II. Long story short, the setting where I grew up was a wreck. Beautiful cities, nice roads and breathtaking views were a faraway dream to me. That’s why I grew to despise where I was born and I couldn’t wait for the day to leave once and for all.

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But things change and fortunately this time for the better. Even though human hand had a lot of say in the destruction of some cities, luckily it didn’t reach the natural beauty that existed in Albania. Not all of it at least. By traveling across my country, by the seaside and also its mountains I discovered that the sea was blue, turquoise and even better shades of blue that I had ever seen before, even better than on those documentaries about foreign lands of which I dreamed of every night. During my hikes on the mountains, I saw that my country had forests worthy of being mentioned in a fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm, trees so tall you could hardly see the sky and meadows so green you felt like you were in heaven.

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Once I was on top of a hill overseeing a field full of sheep. We were surrounded by mountains and in the middle, the animals were eating quietly and I felt like Heidi in her village with her grandpa. What a nice life that would be.

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We are called a third world country, but we are not so different from other countries when it comes to natural beauty. Nature is abundant everywhere in the world. It doesn’t prefer one country more than the other just because it is financially more secure.

I have to admit, I didn’t like my country very much. I was always impatient to get away from it to see the world when I never really saw the place I was living in. I was so clouded by the bad and it eclipsed the good. The thing is back then I didn’t understand a very important thing. It is the same as with yourself. You have to know yourself first, understand yourself, accept yourself with every good and not so good part of you and then love yourself unconditionally. And then the magic happens. You get to experience beautiful things on the outside, because now there is love on the inside. It’s the same thing I think with the place that you call your home country. There lie all the memories, your history, your truth, your family. You have to really know it, understand it, accept it and then just love it unconditionally. It is then that the magic happens. When you embrace where you come from, the whole world embraces you back.

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