This is my second Fourth of July spent in a foreign country. It’s hard to explain why, but you never quite appreciate your own country for what it is (for its people, places, and things) as you do when you’re removed from it. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. You never appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Pick your cliché.
The Fourth of July is perhaps the most widely celebrated holiday in the Peace Corps. On any other day, the worldwide distribution of Volunteers would appear similar to a hundred colonies of ants scavenging the forest for food. On America’s Independence Day, the ants return to their colonies, or resurrect new ones as temporary hideaways.
What is it that brings us together? Maybe it’s that on this particular day, we choose to celebrate the one thing we all have in common – a U.S. passport. We come from vastly different backgrounds and experiences, practice various faiths, and ascribe to dissimilar convictions. But, at the very least, we are all Americans living and working abroad. We may have come for different reasons, but we came after all. We’re here, and we’re all we got (besides strong and steadfast support from the home front – thanks everyone). Whatever the reason, we came together. We came to our respective countries of service. I came to Albania. And on the Fourth of July, the Albanian ants marched to the beautiful beach-side town of Ksamil.
While we were there, a few of us stuck out our thumbs and took a trip down the sun-kissed, citrus-laden coast, to the ancient Venetian city of Butrint – the lost city of the Adriatic Sea. The pictures that look like they could be from an Indiana Jones set capture very little of the ancient city, but highlight some of Butrint’s ancient wonders. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy.