Onward to Greece – Entry 9
I absolutely adore waking up in the middle of nowhere. Preferably opening up my eyes and see the blue sky but the setting up the tent was a good decision yesterday evening. A lot of locusts and critters took a stroll over the veil this night. Never thought I’d say this, since I’m a snowperson, but I feel as if I’m actually beginning to acclimatize to the heat. It just doesn’t seem burn that much anymore and we’re getting good at hydrating ourselves, liters of water during the day and liters of beer in the evening. (Which leads to singing a certain Chumbawamba-song at night.) Jeku is carrying a large rotopaX with water, we filled it up yesterday and needed every drop. This morning we had just enough to fill our Camelbak reservoirs and that was it. Can’t stress enough how important it is to carry enough water with you during camping in the wild, especially in these temperatures. This actually leads to interesting talks in the evening if/when/how we would deal with this during the RTW.
We should get to the border of Greece tomorrow evening so we try to ride as much backroads as we can. I’m enjoying the sound of the little rocks beneath my tires and the smooth rumbling of Hyperion’s exhaust as he carries me through the landscape. We have an amazing time riding, playing and enjoying the sceneries through Albania that we often forgot to stop and take pictures.
The sun is already setting when we find a place to camp at a lake. A turbid lake with more sheep shit than water for the first few meters but any water is refreshing right now so we don’t hesitate to jump in for an evening swim. There is an interesting fact as to why I don’t mind camping next to water or tall grass, when bugs or mosquitos bite me, my skin doesn’t get irritated. (And yes, I know that this still makes me vulnerable for diseases they might carry, but at least I don’t get itchy.) The guys are on the opposite side of this matter, it seems as if all flying critters in Albania want to eat them alive, with skin and bone. We don’t spend a lot of time out of the tent tonight because of this. No stars to see tonight, bummer.
Remember when I said I was getting used to the heat? Forget about it, really, delete it from your brain to make storage room for more important things than my inability to adapt to high temperatures. We slept in the tents this night because of all the multiple legged creatures surrounding us and it was pure sauna. Cooling down in our own personal lake at Rezervuari I Murrizit before riding was a definite yes!
Another thing that I said a few posts ago is that Jeku is absolutely mesmerized by planes. Don’t worry, this is something that will stay a fact, so when we passed the military airbase at Kuçovë there was no way we were getting out of there without spotting a plane. Truly sometimes I think I married a fearless man in the world, or maybe he just doesn’t think certain things through, let’s keep it in debate. When we got to the airbase there were cameras and signs that civilians couldn’t get in. You didn’t think that this was going to stop him right? Louis and I stop at the gates and Jeku just rides through, towards the Albanian soldiers simply asking them, “Can I see the planes, please?”. Honestly I was too frightened to get the camera out to shoot a picture. I could hear the whole conversation through the intercom and the soldiers were actually very polite and thought Jeku’s actions were hilarious. But the chef didn’t, when he came out of the barracks shouting that this motorcycle had to get away from his base asap, Jeku did turn around after the chef made handcuff signs towards him. Adrenaline rushed through all of our veins when we rode away from the base, I couldn’t wait until we were back in the mountains away from the habited world.
Before reaching the last mountain pass that will lead us to the border of Greece, we have another swim. We’re talking about 48°C again at the moment. I let my body and gear soak in the cold river for about a half an hour to get my body temperature back to its normal 36°C. The canyon we are following is the Osumi Canyon, it offers us breathtaking views and leads us towards the offroad path.
Our poor steeds have no way of cooling down properly during the steep slopes in first or second gear, but neither can we, the sun burns merciless on our backs. We encounter a broken down truck on the trail blocking the way, Jeku and Louis ride next to it and I flinch. I’m not sure if I’d be able to cross without hitting the truck and what the reaction of the Albanian men would be if I did. When we all got to the other side, Jeku’s bike decides it is time for a rest. The fuel pump… again. Demounting is the thing to do and we pause for a while in the shade before continuing.
I enjoy every moment of the last Albanian trial that we’re riding. It’s over before I realize it and my front tire hits the newly constructed tarmac. Hyperion still has no side stand so I just let him rest for the group picture. Next destination Greece! About 20 km before the border we halt for the night at a small restaurant, we still have some Lekes to spend. We ask the kind lady if we order dinner here if we can sleep underneath the porch for the night. It’s no problem, so it’s Drambuie!