“Now, meanwhile, the
clock, it just ticked on
As clocks are known to do
For time’s their only purpose
Their only point of view”
So, one of my favorite lines from one of my all-time favorite albums, Beethoven’s Last Night, created by the amazing musical group “Trans-Siberian Orchestra”; a reminder that I haven’t written anything in this humble blog for many months and I’m past due.
This is the second part of Armand’s story about traveling in Albania. In Part I he discussed his first trip there with a private aid group originating in Naples, Italy. At that time Armand was staying with my first wife and I just south of Naples, while I was stationed there with NATO. Several months after his first trip, Armand went back on his own to perform additional relief work and explore. This is his account of the second trip.
Armand wrote and attempted to have his story, “Eyewitness to 1984,” published about 1997. He did get Part I published in a travel magazine that folded immediately afterwards. As Armand retained copyrights and publications rights, he let me also publish it on a travel website I operated at the time. However, this is the first time the second part of his story has ever been published.
This has been edited for obvious spelling and grammatical errors, and formatted for best presentation on this website. Otherwise, this story is exactly as Armand wrote it.
Chapter One – Ulli
It was with a sense of apprehension and anticipation that I embarked on my second trip to Albania in August, 1992. I wondered if my mixed emotions were due to the fear of undertaking a journey alone to a strange country. But I considered myself a seasoned traveler and I had been there before. So I had to admit to myself that my hesitation had something to do with discovering that perhaps some of our unfinished projects were just that. I realized also that I looked forward to seeing the lady doctor again. There was only one certainty—this trip would be on a more personal level than the first one.
This story was written by the late Armand Charest in May, 2001, recalling his experiences performing relief work in Albania. This is Part 1 of a two part story. This story was edited for format and obvious spelling errors, but is otherwise exactly as written by the author.
In June, 1992, I joined a group of American military personnel, who were stationed at the NATO base in Southern Italy, to do humanitarian work in two state run orphanages and a missionary hospital in Albania. An air force officer, Major Harvey Leister and his wife Maureen, a dedicated couple who had collected a sum of money through donations and fund raising activities to buy tools and hardware needed to modernize those institutions were the prime movers in that enterprise. Our desire was to help, in some way, the citizens of that stricken country after the overthrow of their oppressive dictatorship in 1989.