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  • July 20, 2012

    SCUBA Diving Albania: Llamani Beach

    July 13, 2012*

    Grocery Store in Himara

    We stopped by a grocery store in Himara and bought cheese and bread to complete this evening’s dinner.

    My computer had six bars after our two deep dives; we had to stay out of the water for several hours – the next dive was deep, too.

    We drove to Llamani Beach and humped our stuff to the “public” corner of the beach.

    Llamani Beach

    Idit was tired and so was I; we rested under the umbrella for an hour with all of our diving gear around us, to the staring eyes of young kids and curious adults.

    “What does your computer say?” Idit asked.

    “It says we can fly in 23 hours,” I said.

    “I don’t trust your computer,” Idit responded.

    We geared up and entered the water.

    Idit had never dove here, but was told this was a good spot by a friend.

    We got a lot of curious stares as we kicked out

    We got a lot of curious stares as we kicked out.

    We surface swam over sand until we found a reef to descend on.

    Logged SCUBA Dive #419

    Dove with Idit

    Llamani Beach
    Himara, Albania

    Air Source: Private fisherman’s compressor in Saranda
    In With: 2900 psi
    Out With: 300 psi
    Max depth: 102 feet
    Waves: Flat
    Visibility: Up to 50 feet
    Water Temperature: 74 degrees, colder next to the fresh water springs
    Air Temperature: 99 degrees
    Total Bottom Time: 40 minutes or so

     Llamani Beach Reef

    There is a nice reef structure along the wall.

     Llamani Beach Reef

     Llamani Beach Reef
    Fresh water from the mountains oozes out of the sea floor, turning parts of the visibility blurry and the water colder.

    We found a Greek license plate…

    A Greek License Plate
    Fuck Greece!

    We did a perfect navigation back to our spot, swimming at a depth of 15 feet as our “safety stop” and swim home.

    My hand was like a prune!
    Oh my God! My hand was like a prune.

    This had better be temporary, as there is no television in Porto Palermo, the only thing I will have to do tonight is drink beer.

    Idit makes dinner.
    Back in Porto Palermo, Idit made our last meal here from the fresh vegetables we bought yesterday and the bread and cheese that we bought earlier.

    Beer, tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese and bread
    Beer, tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese and bread – a complete and healthy Albanian meal!

    Idit left to get some well deserved rest later in the evening.

    I said good bye to my newly acquired friends at the restaurant below the bungalows and had a good night’s rest before Idit picked me up for the journey back to Tirana.

    The water had gone out sometime during the night, so I couldn’t take a shower; I hope I didn’t smell too bad.

    *Due to time constraints, lack of reliable internet access outside of Tirana, power outages in Tirana and the strength of Albanian beer, posting of this article has been delayed.

    February 8, 2009

    Steak And Lobster On The Cheap!

    Rainy Day Special Article!

    OK guys, it happens to everyone sooner or later!

    Your lady expects a nice dinner for Valentine’s Day, her birthday or other special occassion…

    A sad racetrack loser.

    …but you’ve just lost all your money at the race track.

    What do you do?

    By now, if you have been following my lobster hunting advise, you should have seven personal lobsters in your freezer at all times – at least if your luck has held lately.

    Lobsters in itself have “gourmet” written all over them, so at least you have that part covered!

    But, how do you present a first class meal at home on an ultra shoestring budget?

    Take your beer cans to the recycling center and look under your seat cushions for change; that should be good for about $20.

    Go to your discount grocery store, buy four potatoes and a “Manager’s Special” beef roast – that will set you back about $12, depending on the size of the roast.

    Drive to Trader Joe’s and purchase three or four bottles of Charles Shaw wine, aka “Two Buck Chuck.”

    Charles Shaw Wine

    Charles Shaw only costs a couple of dollars, but is actually a spectacular tasting wine that’s won several awards.

    At home, I am assuming you already have the following staples – milk, butter, fresh garlic or garlic powder, salt and a couple cans of green beans – don’t worry, everyone has canned green beans, for some strange reason or another; eventually most of the time, they get donated after 20 years to a canned food drive.

    Cut up the roast to make steaks…

    Cutting up a roast into steaks.

    Remember, even though “Manager’s special” meat is a little brown on the outside due to the “aging” process, inside should still be fairly pink.

    Extra steaks – and you should have several extras – should be frozen for later meals.

    Boil some water and thaw your frozen lobster tails.

    Meanwhile, dig in the back of your pantry and find the canned green beans; you may have to dust off some of the cans in the back.

    By now, your lady has figured out that you are going out of your way to cook a very special meal, so pour her a glass of wine while she waits – a BIG glass of wine.

    After the frozen lobster tails turn a bit red, they should be thawed enough to cook.

    Lobster tails ready to cook.

    Take them out and slice them down the middle with a seraded butcher’s knife – they should already have been deveined before you froze them.

    Lobster tails about to be cooked.

    Place them on foil and put butter on top of the halves; cook at 400 to 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, keeping the tops moist with butter all the way through.

    Cooking time depends on the size of the lobster tail; when the meat is white all the way through, it’s done.

    Place garlic on top at the last five minutes of cooking time.

    If you undercook lobster meat, it will be chewy, while over done makes it mushy.

    Peel your potatoes and start boiling them; open your green beans and cook them in water either in a microwave or on the stove top.

    If you like medium or rare steak, put them on the grill or pan now; if you like them well done, you should have started a few steps ago.

    By now, your woman is probably complaining that you’re taking too long with dinner; pour her another BIG glass of wine and say that it’s almost ready.

    With the rest of the meal preparation coming to an end, take the potatoes out of the boiling water – they should be mushy.

    Mash up the potatoes, adding small amounts of milk and butter, until the desired consistency is achieved.

    A gourmet meal of such high quality would probably cost $40 a plate in the finest of restaurants!

    A gourmet meal of such high quality would probably cost $40 a plate in the finest of restaurants!

    Maybe the presentation isn’t that great, but hey, your woman probably has a pretty good buzz on after drinking a few large glasses of wine on an empty stomach and surely doesn’t care.

    The seemingly extravagant meal with the wine can help explain where all your money went, however, be sure not to leave the Racing Form or track program in the back seat of your car!

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