Thursday, May 30, 2013

Isn't this exciting?

It is Saturday morning and after a hard hike the day before, my dad and I are taking our time eating breakfast and packing up our campsite on Mali Korabi, the highest mountain in Albania.  For the past three days we have seen lots of cows, sheep, donkeys, horses and the young men that tend to these animals, but no one else, so we are surprised to see a line of hikers with backpacks walking towards our campsite.

When they approached we talked to them for a few minutes and discovered that they were part of the same Polish hiking/climbing club that marked the trails.  We told them about our adventures the day before.  Based on out difficulty crossing the streams, they decided to try out the red/white longer trail up.  We said "shehemi me vone" (see you later) and they continued up the trail and we continued to pack up. 

A few hours later, we were hanging out in the village when the group arrived.  They made it farther up the mountain, but at some point they lost the trail and also didn't make it all the way to the summit.  They had to take one of their party back to Peshkopi but the rest of the crowd was staying for the night, meaning that they had space in their car for my dad, me and out gigantic backpacks.  So we piled into their van and headed down the (really nice!) road. 

And then . . . a few miles down the road there is a bridge . . . the bridge is a bit narrow and coming off of the bridge our back tire clipped the side of the bridge and made a loud noise.  Not good . . .

Then the real adventure started- Do we have a spare tire? Yes, ok good start! Do we have a jack? Yes, still going ok.  Does it have all it's pieces? Apparently not. Fail. Do we have a tire iron? Yes. Can we actually get the bolts off? No again.  After stopping a few passing motorists to ask for help, we found a jack that had all of its parts, but could still not get the bolts off.  What to do, what to do? After a bit of back and forth, we decided that we needed better tools, and we might be able to find them down the road a bit.  My dad, two of the Polish girls and I caught a ride with one of the passing good Samaritans and the driver of our van drove very, very, very slowly about 2km down the road.  We found a road crew that had some more tools and when the van arrived (avash, avash- slowly, slowly) we were able to get the tire changed (how many Polish climbers and Albanian motorists does it take to change a tire?).  I took pictures . . .  I wanted to be useful :).

About an hour after we stopped we were on our way again with a spare tire.  By the time we got to Peshkopi all of the tire shops and garages were closed so even though they had planned to go back to the mountain, the Polish crew ended up spending the night in town.  Two things we remembered today- Albanians will always stop and try to help when you are stranded on the side of the road and even when the roads get better, driving in Albania is always an adventure.  

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