Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.
I'm in Albania. Native country of some of our South Milwaukee neighbors. Owners of the Madison Avenue Mediterranian Market on Madison Avenue are from Albania. So are owners of Lily's Cleaners just over the city line in the Piggy Wiggly shopping center.
None of them, however, have any connection to my visit to this country. I'm on a U.S. State Department-sponsored media-relations consulting project. It's been an interest trip so far. Missed my flight connection in Munich, which meant hanging out there for 11 hours.
The flight from there to Tirana, Albana's capital, was aboard a regional jet full of mostly Albanians. As we winged our way toward out destination, I was struck by all the noise. People talking. Lots of people talking. Talking loudly and with exuberance. And laughing. Although I was worn out and dozed a lot -- having left my house at 2 p.m. Tuesday and it was now nearing 11 p.m. Wednesday -- as we began our 'initial descent' into Tirana, I struck up a conversation with the young man sitting beside me.
He lived in the UK, but played on the Albanian national soccer team. He chuckled when I remarked about the animated talk among the other passengers -- seemed like all of them, including a woman seated in the row in front of us who,m I had seen before we boarded the plane in Munich, was obviously traveling alone. Yet, she was engaged in converation with her seat partner like they were old friends.
Yes, the soccer player said, He flew in and out of Albania all the time and that's the way the passengers always behaved. Albanians are like that, he said. It's a small country and people treat each other like neighbors, whether they actually know them or not.
That's one of the beauties of this country. I'm eager to discover some of the others.