chapter 21 Memories of Shqipëria I

On the road to Albania cows were crossing the highway, some donkeys were carrying peopleSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES with their harvest, it was very hot. Although people there said a summer with only 35 degrees is rather cold. This is what´s left of the memories of last summer: On the way through Croatia and Montenegro every driver told us we were crazy, it’s a dangerous country, “Poor and part of it is even muslim”. But we went to Albania despite of all the warnings. Coming from Dinamarca, New Zeland and France, among other places. We had decided to meet at Fushë Kuqe, it was a randomly chosen place, we just just pointed at the map, a place at the coast, north of the country. Let´s meet there this evening! We split in teams and started hitchhiking. We were still on the way to Qeparo in southern Albania, to attend the European Hitchgathering 2014. But going slow, we roughly calculated to make it to the north of Albania by sunset. If not, we would just meet in Qeparo.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 We crossed the border. We were now in Abania, the country we knew so little about – or the india of Europe, as some of us called it. Anything can happen there! It was the first time in Europe I saw people begging for money next to the highway. First time I saw landscapes with mosques. People were very hospitable. Our driver talked to us about Kosovo. The red Albanian flag, the mountains and castles and turquese water, made it pintoresque and interesting. The modern four lane highway suddenly stopped and turned into a small pebble-mud road, Roundabout, then highway again, this happened quite a few times. The smell of unfiltered exhaust smoke will forever remind me of Argentina. Sara and I found out most drivers speak or italian or german, rather than english. 1-hitchgathering-2014-fb-headerWe learned how to say thank you in Albanian, Faleminderit, and lot´s of other words, that now, half a year later, escaped my mind. Beside the road we found thrown away watermelons, the best food ever. We made our way slowly but steadily, explaining every driver that we were travelling without money – “ska Lek”. An old man picked us up and called his daughter who spoke english to translate and ask where we wanted to be dropped.

The sun went down and we arrived at the randomly chosen place. We couldn´t really believe it, we were in Albania!! But we were the only people there, there was nothing but some houses, huts and a restaurant. Our last driver went off disappointed, because we didn´t let him invitSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESe us in the restaurant. He talked to all the people he saw around there, we, two hitchiking girls, were an attraction. the restaurant owner kindly offered us to camp in there foreyard, to use his toilets and to call him whenever we needed anything. We were not sure if we were right in the place, or if we wanted to stay there, now it was dark and we were alone. But soon after a car arrived and and italian-albanian family dropped our friends. Rémi and Marie. Yeah, they made it! We pitched the tents and went to the restaurant to drink beer. The place had looked expensive, but beer is so cheap in Albania!

Afterwards we explored the area and found some wooden huts on poles in the water of the lagoon, very romantic, it felt like being on a boat.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES I think it was a area where people went fishing. Then, the last bunch of our friends arrived, with Ants, Pedro, Jason and Richard we were complete now. We made Polenta for dinner on the camping gas stove and opened the bottle of wine, singing ukulele songs. Some of the restaurant workers came to drink wine with us, they were really drunk, we tried to speak italian, they put on music from their car, but it was a funny evening.

The next morning we made coffee, ate our hobo breakfast (porridge), packed our stuff and started hitchhiking further south. It was the first of august, the gathering was about to start.

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