Thursday, October 22, 2009

Answers on a Postcard Please.

Had a bit of a rude awakening this morning as I was minding my own business driving the children to school on the way to my school. I teach on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

You always have to be fairly conscious & alert on the early morning school run as the journey involves negotiating Skenderbeg Square, a HUGE square (think communist scale military parade dimensions) Round this square career cars, vehicles, motorcycles & pedestrians. I can't think o f a better word than 'career', it's fast, furious, chaotic & random. The cars are, at a times, 6 or 7 deep. Added to this the square is cobbled with no lanes marked (Ha! as if that would make any differerence.) Everyone is charting their own course, ploughing their furrow, but at break neck speed. It's what is called a 'free for all'.

So here we are 'careering round', bouncing over the cobbles, bumping in & out of pot holes, teeth rattling, jostling for position, stealing a gap, beeping our horns, wishing the suspension was better. You certainly don't need coffee when you arrive, Skanderbeg square is enough. You're awake by the time you have got round it.

But actually that is normal on the school run. What was something more of a shock was the sound of a siren behind me on the, now narrow, one way street near the school; cars parked on both sides, tightly packed, higgeldy piggeldy like socks in a drawer, bicyles, carts & street sellers coming the wrong way up the street, squeezing through the gaps. So, nowhere to go. The line of cars kept going until the road widened, despite the frantic sirens wailing, whereupon a convoy of four large 4x4 navy police jeeps, 2 motorcycle outriders, one black 4x4 with men in suits in, & a navy heavily armoured vehicle with no windows. I have no idea whether they were transporting gold, prisoners, or the president's pyjamas, but it looked serious (& they were certainly taking themselves very seriously.)

However, the thing that completely took me by surprise was that each of these 4x4s was full of policemen hanging out of the windows, with machine guns trained on me, (again. I've had this experience often in Sri Lanka, but there was a war on there), and all the other cars that had stopped, and the policmen were all wearing black balaclavas with the eyes & mouth holes. I felt like I slipped through a crack & entered Hollywood. My husband would have loved it. Jason Bourne meets an Albanian school run.

What I couldn't work out was why the country's police force wear balaclavas?? Why mustn't they be identified, what was so secret that the security forces have to disguise themselves? Or was it intimidation tactics?? And what about the men in suits? There aren't terrorists in Albania, we are not at war here. It was an extremly bizarre sight. Maybe they just like Jason Bourne films... Any ideas anyone?

So this morning I did need a strong coffee, men in balaclavs pointing machine guns at you, not a good way to start one's day.


Mwa said...

Anyone scary instantly becomes scarier if you can't see their face. That sounds creepy.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

It was Jason Bourne!

We had some of those men here standing in front of the court house the other day. Definitely wakes you up! No idea who was inside the court house but it was being taken terrifically seriously.

The boys LOVED it.

Iota said...

I think you were right with one of your suggestions. It was the
President's pyjamas. Maybe he was travelling abroad, had forgotten to pack them, remembered at the airport, and sent the guys back for them.

Tanya said...

Armed siren wailing cavelcades are par for the course here, sometimes they close the roads sometimes. It smacks of grandstanding rather than intimidation. Im glad they havent taken to wearing balaclavas yet tho that would definately push it all into intimidation territory.

Expat mum said...

Were they actually filming a movie?

Sarah said...

That's some school run!

London City Mum said...

Makes our bike ride to school in the mornings look decidedly tame!

Hey - am following you now, one more to add to your posse!


O said...

Thank you for sharing.