The times I have ridden in a private car in Albania are few and far between. In another life, one in which I live in Albania and have unlimited resources, I am the owner of a Toyota Landcruiser. Or a Land Rover Defender or a Mitsubishi Pajero. All of these have enough gears to get me where I want to go.
In this alternate reality, I have the horse power to journey to the ends of roads, to villages that are beyond the furgon-able reaches. Though I have loved exploring this country’s mountains by foot, there’s something to be said for arriving in a place without feeling like you’d rather be collapsed in your bed at home after a hot shower. I know it would take the conquest out of Albania’s far reaches, but I’d be able to go back to places like Lura at my leisure. Life in Albania with a car would be a different life indeed.
Earlier this week I had the chance to go along with Adam and his colleague Hamit on a Diber region tourism development fact-finding excursion. We went out to Radomire, the series of villages just west of the tallest mountain in Albania, Mount Korabi. Adam and Hamit talked with a few locals about setting up small guest houses and we explored the newly marked (thanks to a Polish mountaineering club) trail that leads to the summit on our way to a small mountain lake. Contrary to Lura just across the Drini river valley, this area has not suffered heavy deforestation and has beautiful mature evergreen forests. I enjoyed the conversation, the coffee and the chance to visit a local sheep’s milk cheese factory (yes, sheep’s milk). It was a great day and a wonderful way to see a new corner of Albania – and be home for a late lunch.
All made possible by Hamit and his Landcruiser.