– It was now 3:56 p.m. and we were still waiting for the Albanian coffee break to be over.
– 4:03 p.m. Pashka picked up two more passengers at the cafe going to Teth. A young Swiss couple from Geneva, Switzerland. These adventurers drove from Switzerland into Italy, ferried over to Montenegro and drove into Albania. Their intention was to drive from Boga to Theth but Pashka told them their car would never make it. Don’t even think of trying this road without a 4×4 or sturdy van. They took Pashka’s advice and decided to ride with us and leave the car at the Boga cafe.
The very, very bad, jolting, teeth-chattering, back-fracturing road began in earnest. Up and over a 1900m/6,233′ pass and down to our guesthouse above Theth. The main community of Theth is down in the valley at 600m/1,968′. I still can’t believe the dozens of eggs perched on the dashboard never broke.
– 5:45 p.m. Pashka pulled up at the Mehill Carku Guesthouse and we staggered out, more dead than alive, ground moving beneath our feet.
Many of the group had arrived about 30 minutes to an hour before us and were sitting outside, relaxing and drinking beer. They told their hiking story, everyone got over the pass safely (details to follow tomorrow.) We told about our “public transport” experience. Florian appeared and we tried to communicate our unhappiness over today’s ride from Shkodra to Teth and exactly why it was so upsetting to no avail. He blew up, we gave up and stalked away to take a shower. (Florian did apologize to Steve a few hours later.) The drive should have taken 3-1/2 hours without time spent waiting in factories for cement and toilet parts.
I am sleeping in a second floor room with four of the women. Five single beds are smooshed into this room and I have been given the middle bed as the last to arrive. One bathroom is down two flights of stairs on the main floor, and another on the first floor that you have to go through the men’s room to access. You can just imagine how happy we were with these arrangements at the end of a horrendous day. Especially since this was a two-night stay. Gripe, moan, gripe, moan…
Mehill Carku Guesthouse is family-run by the grandmother, her widowed daughter who does all the cooking including baking fresh bread every day, grandson and his wife. They have three children, ages 8, 6 and 3 and the little six-year old is handicapped. There is no way in or out of this valley when snow begins to fall. During the winter, the entire family lives in one room and heats with wood. The occupants of the entire valley have no choice but to live a substenance life, starve or move away.
Dinner was a freshly killed lamb (see above) that we thought was terrible. The rest of the meal was wonderful and unique. No family-style tonight. Individual bowls and plates of soup, french fries, salad and fresh, oh so yummy, sheep yogurt with honey. It didn’t hurt that there was a bottle of homemade Raki on the table for those who wanted to help freely imbibe.
Bedtime in Teth. Sleeping was a lost cause with five women in a common room trying to be as quiet as possible, undressing, snoring, nocturnal visits to the toilet two levels below and then back up two flights of stairs, wide awake by then. Crashes when something fell or was knocked over. It was a very long night…