When electricity is cut for 8 to 20 hours per day civil life quickly begins to degenerate. On the left is a photo taken two weeks ago with a beautiful clear blue sky. We could sit outside on our balcony, read books, and drink coffee. On the right is a shot from yesterday at about 2 pm. Albania is a country of about 3 million people, with almost a third of them living in the capitol Tirana. So with no hydro, they turn to alternate sources of fuel. The basic choices are wood or liquid gas, both highly pollutant. It's not cold right now (18C), but you cannot open a window because the smog and the smell of burning wood is overwhelming.
Businesses are being hurt by this crisis. Running a generator quickly adds to their expenses, and many cannot afford to run one for the long term, especially small companies like our local bakery. They've basically closed up shop indefinitely. So when I asked P to go buy some bread- there is none.
In the newspaper I find articles informing us of price increases for several things: power generators have gone up, the price of liquid gas has risen 40 lek (cents) to 120 lek per kilo, and incredibly the price of electricity is about to rise as well. Of course most people in Albania are living on less than $200/month so they can never afford a generator anyhow. Also, running a generator constantly for days on end will quickly burn out your generator and you'll need a new one- a huge expense in a poor country.
And lastly, P came home from work yesterday looking a little green around the gills. He spent most of the night hugging the toilet. He thinks it was the pita he had for lunch. His secretary usually brings him a sandwich for lunch and he wonders if the ingredients were spoiled because of lack of refrigeration. I am sure that is the cause. Many small shops just don't have generators and therefore meats and cheese are stored in questionable conditions. I think I'll try to stock up on tinned goods!