Day 49. 68km. Shuft – Komani

Posted: November 1, 2014 in Albania, Cycling
Tags: , , ,

Today it struck me. I think it struck James too. A weird feeling of unease. I have gone into the mountains and am in Komani, nestled between towering peaks. James is near the coast on the way to Macedonia where we will meet again. I’ve had this unease on other trips. It will go. I have acknowledged it, and have accepted it. It’s part of being on the road.


Excerpt from my dear diary, written in the tent..
It is midnight as I lie in the tent amid the chorus of barking and snarling dogs in Albania. The tent is cleverly situated in the area patrolled by dogs protecting the cow thoroughfare, and they pass regularly in front of the tent. I feel safe – not directly visible – inside the tent, and consider how to proceed.
My bladder is full after having processed the Albanian schnapps I had earlier. An exit of the tent and urination exercise could end rather ungracefully. I remember our smug chuckles last night over dinner. The other cyclists paid 12 euros to stay in the hostel in Shkroder. We have a much better spot. Day 1 of our wild camping challenge achieved. We are getting a real Albanian experience – just one I didn’t expect when setting up the tents.
Does this experience earn me passage into the club of hard-core cyclists level 5? I will check with James tomorrow.

00:40 The dogs’ barks and snarls are more distant. The tent is fluttering in gusts of wind. I feel a downpour is looming.
I remember seeing bolts of lightning in the distance on the horizon while swimming yesterday. Maybe Drahtesel will get a clean, and the tent will get a test. Is it worthy of a hard-core cyclist level 5?

02:12 The dogs are still. The tent is still fluttering in the wind but the storm refused to arrive. And I need to piss. Standing outside the tent, I look up at the skies to see the exquisite panorama of stars. There is a light breeze. The bottom corner of my tent is flapping around and the peg holding it down is nowhere to be seen. Well. That explains the fluttering. So much for the building storm. I fumble around in the tent for a spare peg, stamp it into the ground, and the tent is ready for a new day. Or night.
Oh. And the regular growl of the fierce dog is just James snoring in the neighbouring tent.

2:43 What are the roosters doing? It’s not even 3am and they are crowing. They haven’t turned their clocks back from daylight saving time.

5:18. I find the Muslim call to prayer haunting and beautiful. The sounds drift across the plains from the border-town mosque, punctuated by rooster calls. It is time to rise and pack up the tent under the starry sky. Our first day in Albania is about to begin.

‘I don’t want to do the mountain route,’ said James over coffee. ‘I want to move south towards Greece.’
We realised our paths were going to diverge, even though we think they will rejoin in Macedonia. There was a funny feeling cycling through the busy chaotic streets of Shkoder, and eating breakfast at a café. I didn’t want to cycle the southern busy roads straight down the coast. I hope James will be OK. It has been great sharing the last few weeks with him.




I pushed my way into the gale-force winds, then up over a small pass to enter the valley I would follow the rest of the day. I knew this feeling of apprehension would pass. The sun was shining, it was beautiful scenery, and everything was OK.
I followed a lake that wound its way around a steep-sided valley. The road went up and down, the wind blasted as hard as it could – mostly into my face. The road surface was OK some of the time. I took some nice photos.





Komani is at the base of a beautiful valley, but is a construction site. They are doing some dredging works in the lake, and trucks are plying the roads. A view without electricity wires is not to be found. I am the only tourist in the town. Everyone else here are construction workers. Tomorrow is a ferry along the lake to Fierze, and then I can cycle onwards along a brand new road. I’m sure tomorrow will feel different. I am in the heart of beautiful nature. I love that.

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