Waking up, opening my eyes only to see my motorcycle first, even after all the trips we’ve done it’s still something magical. We’ve spend the night at the mountain road, a very calm and peaceful night only two trucks passed us. I can’t help wondering if the drivers were curious about why we were sleeping there and if he laughed with the three people snoring next to their bikes. Ok, ok, I admit, I’m the snorer of the bunch. The smell of coffee and tea drags me out of my sleeping bag, I find the guys pretty excited to get to Shkodër and fix their bikes. Last night we almost finished the loop so we’ve only got eleven more km to go.
With renewed spirit we hit the road and reach the city around noon but it seems to be a hustle to find a workshop, most of the locations that we found pre-programmed in the sat nav aren’t working out. Jeku goes for one more try in an alley and finds people scrubbing up car rims, we’re definitely getting in the right direction. Some curious Albanian men walk towards us to find out why we’re there, neither of us know the Albanian word for ‘welding’ so Jeku just makes the typical noise and pretends to be welding the subframe. Like I told you before, being human is universal, language is a barrier that’s easily crossed. One of the men takes us to his workshop, I leave Hyperion outside because three bikes would have been a crowd in this little garage.
The guys start the repairs and the owner of the shop doesn’t mind them using all his tools to fix their bikes. After demounting all the parts, Louis starts grinding pieces of metal out of an old oil drum to reinforce the subframe whilst Jeku is making new risers out of the old ones. And me? Well I’m taking the pictures for a change and try and connect with all the people that enter the garage to find out what those strangers are doing there. An elderly man notices that the temperature is getting extreme for us, at the moment in the city it’s 46°C, we’re literally bathing in our own sweat. The man makes gestures at me if I want something to drink, but we still have no Leke, the currency from Albania, so I politely gesture no. Clearly it wasn’t his intention that we would have to pay for the drinks and he comes back with three bottles of fresh milk, he just wanted us to drink something from him. In the meantime Jeku is explaining to the owner of the garage that he needs new bolts of M12 to mount the renewed risers. Guess what? The guy jumped on the bicycle of his wife and rode off into the city only to come back some 20 minutes later with the ideal bolts and nuts. Just crazy how helpful the people are here.
A funny side note, the owner asks Jeku if he would like a beer and Jeku is like “Yeah of course, birra, we know that word!”. Then Louis asked for a Fanta, and the owner laughs with the idea “No, no, no, birra!” but Louis doesn’t drink beer, so insists for a Fanta. Next the owner points towards me and says “Fanta?” and I’m like “No, no, birra!”, the guy starts to laugh and says “Fanta?” again to Jeku pointing at me. Jeku points back at me and says “Yes, birra!” with a thumbs up. You could see the surprise on his face that the girl was going to drink a beer and when he comes back with the ice cold can, he keeps checking me out until I take the first sip. I have to admit, it’s a damn fine tasting ice cold one and I give him a big thumbs up. The owner just laughs uncontrollably and goes helping Louis with the welding. Safety regulations? Not yet in some parts of Albania I guess. Welding is without a welding cap, just squinting your eyes will do the trick. I’m happy that the wife of the owner eventually enters the garage after a while with what appears to be sunglasses, guess she a least thinks about his eyes.
Now that the subframe has been reinforced, Jeku suggests to make two adjustments to the luggage rack so that the shocks get less absorbed by the rear frame. It is neat to see two people working on the same bike but different side, one welding and the other one grinding. The smile on Louis his face is worth millions once the R1150GS is up and running again, now he’s back in business, carrying his own luggage and being able to continue the trip. Jeku seems to be very content and has confidence in the risers. I’m just smirking that the eldest GS of the pack is just doing fine. We give the man a royal fee for the usage of his garage and the hospitality that we received.
On the road again! We have to get moving asap, the amount of time that we ‘lost’ because of the crash and the repairs is quite a lot so the only thing that we do till we stop at Komani Lake is ride, ride, ride. In the morning we’re going to take the Komani ferry, which is a bit of a luxury thing because there seems to be a road now leading up to Fierze. For now, we found a campsite with a duck pool to swim and relax in. That’s good enough for us!