Posts Tagged ‘Bicaj’


Indecision and paranoia. I ended up cycling up ‘Samsung Galaxy’ valley seeing trouble everywhere where there was none. I had to use my people judgement today, trust someone, and follow my intuition. I am still here, so I guess it worked out OK.

Some vertical metres

Some vertical metres

The bus I wanted to take on this beautiful, sunny day, was leaving at 13.00. It was 7:30, and the café where my bike was, was very smoky. Outside, where there should have been fresh air, there was a noisy generator running with nasty fumes. I went to a neighbouring café, also with a generator, and spoke to some locals. One spoke very good English, and I felt was more trustworthy. There is no problem on the road to Peshkopi. I am very safe.

(On a side note: It turns out all cafes in Albania have generators running out the front. This is because they have to pay much more for electricity that everyone else. As a consequence, they don’t pay, and generate their own electricity, spending 3 euros a day on kerosene.)

Yesterday a boy took a photo with himself, me and Drahtesel and posted it on Facebook. This meant that I was known through the valley. I understand no Albanian, but I heard ‘Samsung Galaxy’ interspersed in the conversation, and interest in my phone everywhere I went. My friend Mr. Problem had said ‘phone’, and then indicated – stolen, gone. That’s all I could think of. In reality, the kids were just being kids. Joking around, and interested in a novelty (me).

Kids said, ‘remember me?’, and invited me in for coffee or a drink. Me, Mr Paranoid just continued. I don’t like this about myself. I feel the paranoia gone now.

It was a beautiful road, but, my, it was very, very steep and it went up and down and up and down – 100s of metres at a time. I feel very fit – me and Drahtesel make a good team!

The road to Peshkopi

The road to Peshkopi

The road to Peshkopi

The road to Peshkopi

The road to Peshkopi

The road to Peshkopi

The road to Peshkopi

The road to Peshkopi

Day 51. 81km. Pac – Bicaj

Posted: November 4, 2014 in Albania, Cycling
Tags: , , ,

Who to trust? Who to believe? After an uneventful cycle, I found myself taking down my tent in the dark, and listening to stories of rebels and stabbings in the area in front of a little electric heater in a small room in the town hall building. I didn’t sleep all night, lying on the floor of the café opposite the town hall with the café owner next to me to stop break-ins. Ouch.

Tent position in Bicaj before all the stress

Tent position in Bicaj before all the stress

The day had a happy start, listening to the call to prayer from the mosque directly behind me in my tent at 5am. I was excited all over again camping in front of a mosque.

It was cold, dropping to 0C at night, with some ice on my tent. I started my cycling briefly above the clouds before plunging down into them, where I was most of the day.

My perch above the clouds

My perch above the clouds

On the road to Kukës

On the road to Kukës

On the road to Kukës

On the road to Kukës

My tent stood nicely on the lawns of the town hall in the evening (as instructed by a local). On returning to the tent in the dark, after a stop in the local café, I saw a light circling the tent. The creepy conversation using 3 words, sign language and drawing began. The word ‘problem’ was common, the sign for a throat being slit, a bike chain being cut and the bike being taken away, the rubbing of fingers indicating money, and again, ‘problem’. The guy watched me as I took down my tent in the dark, and moved everything into the town hall building, for which he had a key.
Then it got very weird. There was a ‘problem’ between Bicaj and Peshkopi (where I was headed). Men in balaclavas, slitting throats and stealing. There was no ‘problem’ in the direction of Kosovo. I should sleep in the town hall. That would be safe. He would leave me there, and let me out at 5am. Leaving later than that would cause a ‘problem’ with the officials at the town hall. At this point, I was really getting worried.
‘I’m leaving.’
I got up and lugged bike and luggage out the door, and across the street to the café. My friend followed. I should not mention anything, he said. There are spies in the café.

I was allowed to sleep on the floor in the café. I asked them to help me catch a bus to Peshkopi the next day. They seemed to understand, and made a call to arrange it.

When all the customers had left, the café owner set up his bed on the couch in the café. He has a house just across the way, but sleeps here because of thieves. He told me to keep my wallet and passport in the sleeping bag – just to be safe.
The café owner had been good to me. He had also been friendly with Mr ‘Problem’. The customers in the café all seemed nice people. In fact, everyone in Albania has been nice. Was there reason for worry? I was most worried about Mr. Problem cutting me off at the pass the next day.

My night was spent thinking on what to do the next day, and how to stow my valuables as safely as possible on the bus trip.