I positioned myself near the front of the ship, opting to cope with the heavy breeze in exchange for a view of the still hazy horizon. It was just after sunrise and I took my first deep breathe of the day before leaning into the cameras viewfinder. While peering into the small window I pondered how little I actually knew about a country we were just 45 minutes from stepping foot on. Albania was a mystery previously cloaked by communist rule. Just recently that curtain has been shed and the country is now proudly independent. So with this bit of information I let my imagination roam as to what lay ahead. My thoughts wandered to those schoolyard days where kids would joke about banishing you to Albania for breaking the rules of kickball. Albania was Timbuktu, Madagascar, or the furthest place in the world from the suburban model we called home.
The wake from our ships progress agitated the azure waters as we knifed through the morning efficiently with land growing closer through my telephoto lens. Warm tones of sunrise color lingered in delicate hues, always a welcome addition to any landscape. There under a vast sky I noticed an isolated soul in a simple fishing boat beneath a pile of cumulus clouds reaching upward. I wondered how he felt looking back at our vessel as we interrupted his chances for catching a meal.
I would eventually take the shot, but my thoughts were not of apertures and shutter speeds, but rather a sense of scale. Sailing this vast sea has revealed just how immense the world really is, and despite this, we are all so connected in ways that are not immediately evident when looking from afar. Upon closer observation however, the lines on maps seem to fade and reveal the common humanity inside each one of us. Suddenly Albania didn't seem like such a strange place anymore. The captain navigated us further into the port of Saranda where the next part of our adventure would begin.