Albania has been an important station for us. A lot of things happened within us the first time on the trip. In the other countries we were so focused on getting a daily routine, getting our research started and getting used to the physical challenge. When we arrived in Albania we were quite settled in the touring – working routine and we gained quite a few muscles so getting up the mountains was becoming easier.
In regards of our research, we had 2 interviews set already before we even entered the country. And we also knew that outside of the capital there would be no organisation or Universities we could talk to. So, for the first time on our trip we had time to reflect – what happened until here but also what was actually happening JUST NOW. Feeling out lightweight and strong bodies coping with physically difficulties we never had experienced before. Reflecting our relationship after 2 months on tour.
Actually, perceiving the “vibe” of this country and deeply absorb the hospitability of the people here. Enjoying the beauty of this country to the fullest. We even took a lot of long cuts and drove back and forth some roads just to experience more of this amazing country. And we also realized one thing once more – the poorer people are, the more they are willing to share. On our first day in Albania a couple currently busy with taking care of their fields, was giving us red peppers and melons. And this phenomenon would continue during the while trip.
One day we received so many watermelons from people of a village we camped in, that we had to eat 4 kilos in one go just to be able to transport the other 4 kilos in our pannier. People here are poor, but the share what they have – and this is always at least a smile. We received so many thumbs up on the road from people in cars passing by. We received so much waving from people walking by or sitting at the road. We had kids following us with their bikes just to start a conversation. People here are poor so mental health is not their priority. As always, where is poverty there is not so much space in the mind of humans for injustice and human right.
Their life is spinning around daily survival.
So the first time on that trip at some point what came into focus was our own mental health. We were reflecting the situation we are in very differently – we discovered fear and anxiety and we overcame it – both in their own pace and way. We had room to be sad, frustrated and angry on one hand and silly, adventurous and full of joy on the other.
Albania was quite a step on this journey. Sitting here writing this I (Iris) am eating another apple I received as a present from a lady today and I am happy I left home to come here. Albania will always have a special place in our heart – Faleminderit Shqipëria!