When we arrived at the secret Croatian beach, our friend was not there. We send a message and found out he had left two hours before we got there. He had spent one night alone and then got itchy feet and decided to move on to Kupari, close to Dubrovnik, where the main pre-gathering would be held these days.
We started 24 hours after him, the first hours hitching a truck that went the curvy road along the coast going 60km/h like this: almost 90 degrees left curve, almost 180 degrees right curve, left curve, on and on for hours until finally we reached the first service station on the highway where we jumped off the truck and hoped to find a faster vehicle. The moment we jumped off we saw our friend running towards us as if we had rescued him from a lonely island – he had spent 24 hours at that place. Yes, hitchhiking in Croatia in touristy august is not easy, we had difficulties finding rides, but at last we were in good company. Eating the cinnamon cookies people left on their coffee plates some people came and gave us money and food.
We got further south that day, but had some weird experiences such as sleeping in a tent on the playground because on the grass there were sprinklers all over and waking up because workers exchanged colourful boards of the slide under which we had pitched the tent. Then we saw some huge grasshoppers that seemed to really like our backpacks and we stole some ice cream because the gas station employees wouldn´t give us more than one of the Bureks they threw away at the end of the day.
The next day we got a lift from people in a VW bus who had been working on a festival and it turned out they were friends of our friend Anna, the world is so small sometimes. The next thing I remember is being dropped off in the middle of the highway -only in the Balkans people are crazy enough to stop for you there- by highway maintenance workers saying that in half an hour their kolega would come and pick us up at the toll stations. It was at least 30 degrees and no car at all in 45 minutes. Nowhere to walk to. We took out our wet clothes to dry them on the barriers. In 5 minutes they changed from all moist to completely dry. We then decided to start walking, according to GPS it was about 5km until our highway exit. We walked and came to a part where there were two long bridges over a valley, where there were lots of cars, but going 150 km/h, absolutely no place for them to stop. The space on the side of the roads where we could walk was about 30cm, cars almost touched us. But it was a dilemma, to die in the sun or to die walking the last 5km. It was an inferno. The thermal sensation was around 40 degrees, the backpacks heavier with every minute that passed, few passed the two long bridges, alive and well! Then, as if it could not have been worse, in front of us a tunnel appeared, we looked out for a sidewalk, but there was none. We looked at each other confirming that it was impossible not to die in there.
What a day! We had our funny moments, though. For example trying to explain to the Croatian highway workers in english-german-hands-and-feet, that we were on our way from central Europe to Albania by Autostop. They almost wouldn’t believe us. Then when our friend explained he was from New Zealand and they didn’t understand, he tried to explain making sounds of sheep and saying “you know, lord of the rings!” Then, when they got it, they asked him if he came hitchhiking all the way from there, and he started making the noises of a plane landing in Berlin…
Standing in front of the tunnel, exhausted the three of us noticed at the same time that there was a path going down the mountain at our left and apparently leading to where we had to leave the highway and follow a smaller road the rest of the way to Kupari. We were saved! So we started climbing down, all sweaty and thirsty. Before our eyes extended something like an oasis, a village with a river, green fields and fruit trees. The end of drought and moonscape had arrived! Walking down we passed the cemetery and on its side there was a small house with toilets and on the outside a water tap with a hose. What a joy, we had the best shower of a long time! Refreshed we went into the center eating figs from the trees. On the side of the road there was a stand selling fruit and vegetables, we called the guy telling him we wanted to buy the biggest watermelon he had. He invited us over to a couple of chairs and a table in the shade of his bamboo hut, where he spend the day lying in his hammock, drinking home made mandarin liquor and playing with a small kitten. Of course he offered us to drink with him and would be offended if we had declined. There I think I had the best (and most) watermelon of my life, but that was still before Albania.