For those of you who went to Disney World as a young child or a parent of a young child, I am sure you already know about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, thanks to my sister the Diers Family definitely knows all the ins and outs of that ride. For those few of you who have not gotten the pleasure of experiencing this ride, I would strongly recommend that you take the time to travel to Disney World specifically to experience this ride. Not just for the awesomeness of the ride, but it would also give you a sophisticated topic to bring up at those cocktail parties when you no longer see any of the over-sized coffee-table books to steal a conversation topic from.
I feel a brief description of the ride is in order, for those few who have no idea what I am talking about. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride can be ridden by small children and adults, alike. The premise of the ride is that you are traveling through Mr. Toad's magical world on a track in a roller coaster-esk cart that looks quite similar to Ford's Model-T (a really old car). The ride is full of sharp twists and turns, that absolutely tickled my sister to death! I don't think it's too presumptuous to say that this ride is my sister's favorite ride of all time. Due to this weird, but endearing, obsession my parents and I have ridden on this ride quite a few times. This is how I came to know so much about this ride and why this specific ride has had such a HUGE impact on my life.
Ok, now for the Albanian connection. As I have explained before, I live on the Ionian Coast in a small village that is smack in-between extremely tall mountains and the sea. In order to go anywhere I must travel on windy roads through the mountains. Normally, I ride a large, "normal", size bus, but on my way to Saranda a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to ride on a short bus. Let's just say it was an experience. The driver drove extremely fast, continuously whipped around sharp curves, and I think he purposefully hit every bump and pot hole between Himare and Saranda (and let me tell you, there are quite a few of them).
The driving in Albania is, needless to say, BAD. None of the driving laws or speed limits are enforced and 2 lane roads are frequently turned into 3 lane roads, by a vehicle simply driving down the center line in-between the 2 lanes of cars. Many times it feels as though the furgon (small van) or bus drivers are playing "chicken" with the car coming from the opposite direction in order to pass the "slow" car in front of them.
After the quick trip down to Saranda, I happily got off the bus, my heart still racing and my legs still a bit shaky. I explained my adventure (if one would call it that) to a few friends I was meeting down in Saranda. This is the HONEST TRUTH, the only words that came out of my mouth were "It was Mr. Toad's Ride getting down here!" I didn't have to say any more.
The connections that Americans have with each other, no matter how obscure they are, have pooped up randomly since I have been in Albania. I really didn't know anyone in my group before arriving in Albania, but simply because we all have the experience of being American there are so many things that we just get. When you're living in a foreign country, constantly speaking a foreign language, it is so nice to say some common saying from the US and have everyone listening to you understand what you mean without an explanation.
Lesson of the Story: If you have not ridden Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, it is imperative for you to do this ASAP. What can I say? Experiencing this ride can help you bond with your future comrades.