We had to find the meeting point in the dark. All of us had supposed we would arrive during the daylight and see the camp, or the ruins of the castle or monastery next to the lakes. It was so dark, that we couldnt see anything, but the water of the big lake reflecting the glowworms, we had written down the name of the place we wanted to meet on some paper in our pocket, but there was no person at all we could have asked for the way. To go around the lake would probably take two or three days walk, there were so many hills around it. Impossible to find the camp. The mosquitoes were eating us, while we discussed what to do.
We had the phone number from the ones who suggested going there, and tried calling them, and we send a brave one walking the road the crosses the water, which was just the fast road, next to it railways, and next to it water, no sidewalk, no lights at all, just fast cars.
In the end, the one we sent walking found the ruins of a castle, it was on an island in the middle of the road that crosses the lakes, next to the railroads. One after another, or actually two by two, all of us arrived! Even some of the drivers stayed there with us camping in the ruins of 14th century Lesendro fort. We pitched the tents, made fire, cooked dinner, shared some good wine and listened two ukuleles playing songs from last years gathering.
The next day we went to explore our surroundings and bathing naked between the fishermen. During the day everything looks so different! We discovered that if you walked on the railways or the road until the other side, there four star restaurant and the entrance to the national park. In the restaurant there were nice clean toilets, drinking water, and lots of brad, that people left on their plates, with which we provided us and carried it back 4 times a day, like squirrels finding nuts.
Everyone had warned us about the snakes , and we saw some really beautiful ones around the castle and many dead ones along the road. No one got bitten. There was also Tiger-Spider, who became kind of part of us, sitting in our circle everyday with us.
We had such fun at the restaurant that we spent almost the whole day there table diving, watching the tourists and the boat taxis. On the next day some of us felt like going for a walk, Spontaneously we started hiking up the hill, which looked very small. There was no path, just bushes, but we found our own way. Going higher and higher, the view was beautiful. We picked berries, and where there are berries, there are thorns, and all of us were walking in skirts or sandals. Up and up we went, accompanied by the sound of the ukulele. There was a young dog coming with us all the way, even the parts we had to climb with both hands. Someone gave it the name Shady. Sweating, we didn’t want to give up so short before the peak, getting our heads in webs with big spiders, passing more thorns and more thorns, (I still have the scars on my legs) and these plants with hooks that stick forever to your clothes. But it was worth the pain! From you could see Albania on the other side of the lake. It was pretty cloudy, I would love to come back on a sunny day and take more pictures!
We made it to the peak and had an amazing 360 degrees view. We listened to more songs, took some obligatory group pictures, when suddenly we heard thunder grumbling and decided it was best to descend as quickly as possible. We went down on the other side as it looked easier. It was maybe less steep and less rocks, but there were even more thorns. Richard and me went fast and made it down to the village in maybe an hour, loud thunder was threatening and making us move, when it started to rain big heavy drops we slipped down the last two hundred meters and stood there under the roof of the small supermarket.
We had been hurrying down so fast, that all the others were out of sight. Maybe we should have waited. In the storm and the rain it must have been really hard for them to make their way. Also it was already dark by now. A lightning struck almost next to us, making noise and at the same time in the whole village the light went off. Our friends didn’t appear, and didn’t appear, we hoped they didn’t have an accident climbing down slippery rocks in sandals. Now lightnings were coming down all around us, really I never have seen such a storm in my life, and we seemed to be right in the centre of it. In the pouring rain, a local walked by and had the calmness to ask us ”boat taxi?”. It was an absurd situation.
After for half an hour we saw them appearing behind the trees, even the dog was still there! We ran into the small shop all wet, exhausted and just happy just to be alive. Outside lightnings lit the horizontal masses of rain and the train passing by. We were without money, but the woman working in the supermarket gave us food for free, she, too seemed happy to see us alive. To express out happiness and to thank the woman for giving us shelter, we started singing and dancing with the ukulele. “Men at work -down under”. After all the physical exercise and the mental tension, we were very relieved, impossible to stop laughing. The rain didn’t cease, but we wanted to go, the 2 kilometers “home” and see if our tents were still there, or floating in the water somewhere.
We started walking, on the left side of the road, were the cars could see us, so much water was still coming down that on the side of the street it almost reached our knees. There were still many many cars, blinding us with their lights, but it was impossible to hitchhike as there was no place to stop, not even to walk properly. But no one got run over and we made it to the 4 star restaurant!! Yeah, the eight wet hippies of us bought one cup of tee, sharing it round, sitting on the fancy table between rich Russian tourists. They were so nice to us, they didn’t kick us out, even when we continued stealing leftovers from the other tables.
After the tea we walked back on the railways to our castle. The tents almost flew away, but the ones of us who stayed had fixed them, having their hands full of work to keep them from flying away and trying to keep the backpacks dry. What an adventure!! We slept all piled up in the tents, dreaming crazy dreams of floating islands with scary castles.
The next morning the sun dried everything and all this just passed to be a nice collective memory, (connected with the song). We split in new teams and started sticking out our thumbs, leaving towards Albania, main destination of all the trip, European Hitchgathering 2014.