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I Remember When Bananas Came to Albania

It’s not that we haven’t traveled. We have. We’ve traveled a lot.

I suspect that most people who travel consistently, keep some kind of running log or inventory of places they’ve been, and we are no different. In fact, we are downright OCD about it. The second we’re back from a trip, the cities and countries we’ve visited get mapped on TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited map. Partially this is to remember where we’ve been, because honestly, it’s hard to remember the names of obscure cities like Struga or Sarande without writing them down, and I want to remember! but if I am totally honest with myself, there is also a bit of pride associated with the number. We know we are extremely fortunate. I’m not even 40 yet and I’ve already been to almost 200 cities in 31 different countries. And my handsome Bear hubby that’s 9.5 years younger than me? Almost 200 cities in 28 different countries.

Yup, I admit it. From the outside looking in, you could call us a little spoiled. Of course, the story’s much more complicated than that. We weren’t born with silver spoons in our mouths. In fact, Bear was born in communist Albania, and didn’t even see a banana until he was 11 or something crazy like that. He shared it 3 separate ways with his 2 sisters, and I’m pretty sure they kept the peel for as long as they could. Incidently, my mom has the same story about bananas in South Korea, but she’s 62 and Bear is only 28. And while suddenly blurting out, “hey, I remember when bananas came to Albania,” at a party can elicit squeals of laughter from some (us North Americans), and understanding nods from others (our Ukranian friends), I’m guessing it wasn’t much fun at all. He has stories about storing gum in water to save for another day’s chewing, saving the foil from those very same gum wrappers as souvenirs, and proudly displaying aluminum coke cans like they were artifacts from King Tut’s tomb. He also fired an AK47 when he was 13, but I think that’s a story best left for another day.

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