This is the fourth post about a recent trip to Albania as a bridesmaid in an Albanian/American wedding.
Oh crap. We’re ten minutes late to the wedding and we’re getting pulled over by the Albanian police. This is not good. As a bridesmaid it’s my job to try and avert wedding day crises to the fullest extent of my powers (limited given that I don’t even speak Albanian). But I don’t think I can smile us out of this check point, especially since I’m reclining across the entire length of the front seat. My legs are on top of the translator in the passenger’s seat, the right half of my bum is on the center consul, and my head is resting on the best man’s shoulder as he drives us through Tirana, Albania like a “bat out of hell” as my mother would say. We’ve spent the last 30 minutes racing down a mostly unpaved road on Datji Mountain in our decorated bridal car blasting techno music. I am acutely motion sick but don’t see how mentioning that would calm down the bride or the police.
The police man signaled our car to pull over just as we had completed our first pre-ceremony drive-by of the church. Time being a bit of a hypothetical in Albania there had still been a few people outside the historic façade. Determined to preserve at least a few American traditions we didn’t want any of the guests to glimpse the bride before her grand entrance. To give the last stragglers (including most of the wedding party) time to get inside the church we’d decided to drive around the central square in Tirana – past statues of national heroes on horseback, the national Opera House, Mosque, and Library, as well as a museum with a mosaic mural extolling the virtues of the working class – Albania is a recent convert to modern capitalism.
Our black Mercedes sedan with the steering wheel on the wrong side (driven here from the UK, even though Albanians drive on the right side of the road) comes to a streamer-deflating halt when the police officer at the check point waves us over. The driver/best man rolls down his window and the police officer takes a good look at my reclined position on the translator’s lap. He checks the backseat where the bride and other bridesmaids are drowning in the white fluff of her skirts, and he smiles.
After a few more words in Albanian, it becomes clear that the police man pulled over our bridal car in order to give his congratulations to the bride.
I am so thankful that safety and the law are not prime concerns in Albania that I forget all about feeling nauseous.
Photo Courtesy of Maureen Roberts