Northern Bound, Part Two...
The next stop on our great tour of the north was Kukes. On our way into the city we crossed over the large reservoir and saw just how low the water level is. Low water level = low energy production. Along the very dry lake edge were many lines of erosion in the dirt indicating the water at its normal level and each progressively lower level. I'm not sure how many lines there were but I am guessing that due to our lack of rain and oppressive heat, and the ensuing lack of power that there are a few too many lines. The silver lining? If the water gets much lower you can walk through an ancient city and the former site of Kukes. OK, I might be exaggerating. The town of Kukes was relocated to its current higher elevation sometime in the 1970's. When they dammed the river, the first Kukes was flooded.
I didn't have my camera with me when we explored Kukes in the afternoon. Hopefully I'll get some pictures later and post them. I was surprised at how nice the city is. The setting is quite nice. The town is on a plateau, overlooking the lake with a mountain dramatically rising behind it.
The next morning our journey continued. And of course we were out the hotel by 6:30 am. The night before we had conflicting information regarding transportation, with a departure time of 7:00, 7:30, and 8:00 am. There was a mini-bus, and I do mean "a" because there was only one, that went from Kukes to Peshkopi, our next stop. When we got to the buses, we didn't see the mini-bus. We asked around and we had one gentleman offer to take us for 100Euros. Yeah. Euros. That's like a billion US dollars. I laughed in his face. I've gotta stop doing that. A little later a man rushed over and asked if we want to go to Peshkopi. I said yes. I also said we would pay only 5Euros, knowing that the price should be between 5 and 7 Euros. He looked a little insulted. I'm guessing he wanted more. He said a cup of coffee costs 5 Euros. I asked where. I then said a coffee is not that expensive in Tirana or London. No thank you sir. We'll find someone else.
Tired from our transportation search, we sat down to have a coffee, which, by the way, cost less than half a Euro. Soon Ryan spotted a mini-bus with potential to be our ride. He scoped it out and returned with good news. The driver met us 30 minutes later and off we went. Or so I thought. First we had to make a little stop. We make a few turns and then we're in the middle of some narrow street surrounded by the walls of the houses along the street. We park perpendicular to a gate which is then opened from the inside. I peered in to see what was behind the gate. I couldn't see much in the small courtyard except a large wood pile and a rusty axe (ok, ok, there was no axe but I'm trying to set the mood). Judging from the faces of my companions as we slowly reversed into the courtyard, we weren't exactly comfortable with our little detour. When the driver got out, opened the back, and removed our backpacks, I think we all got a little more nervous. Shortly thereafter however, our fears were laid to rest. A couple of guys started loading the back of the mini-bus (which kinda like a mini-van) with cases and cases of Bik Bull which is a generic version of Pitt Bull, which is a generic version of Pit Bull, which is a generic version of Red Bull, which is just gross. After loading 700Euro of Bik Bull into the back, we were off to Peshkopi.
The road was quite an experience. In fact it was barely a road. We bumped around for several hours along the way but we were rewarded with breath-taking views and glimpse at life in rural Albania. Sadly I didn't get many good pictures. It turns out that the backseat of a mini-bus is not good for comfort or taking pictures. I did get a few good shots but I missed so many others. This ride was more spectacular than the ferry ride. It might be the best journey I've been on in Albania. The views were stunning, the countryside gorgeous, and the experience amazing. Even considering how difficult it was to begin and how uncomfortable the ride was, I would recommend it and might even be willing to do it again.
Right now, it's after 2am and I have to go to the castle tomorrow morning to survey tourist. Next post will include some pictures of a place (it's too small to call it a village) where we stopped for a rest. Good night.