Tuesday 2016/05/03

From Bajram Curr to Shkodra


After breakfast I clarify with the hotel that we can stay in the room until noon. It is raining and we don't like to make a trip into the Valbona Valley in this weather. You probably can not see much anyway.

So we spend the morning in the room. I take care of my work and Markus takes a nap. At 12 o'clock I am getting ready for departure and Markus wakes up and starts dressing. Suddenly he screams. When putting on his pants or his socks, he got a lumbago. What a crap!

Markus tells me, I can not do anything for him. There's no other help than to take his medicine and lie down for 2 or 3. He wants me to get on the ferry and make my own program for the next few days. Then we meet again, that's the plan we hastily make.

I tell the hotel staff that Markus has problems with his back and he will stay for another 2-3 days and that they may look after him from time to time and bring him something to eat and drink.

With a bad feeling I ride to the ferry dock. There I clarify with our ticket vendor from the previous day, who will also ride on the ferry, whether the ticket from Markus will be valid a few days later and whether they run the ferries every day. He understands the situation and affirms both. I call Markus to inform him that he can take the ferry from Baijram Curr as soon as he feels better. The alternative would be quite a detour on the road.

I am the only guest on the ferry. Just before my ferry there leaves another one, which carries only a few guests too. Hard to believe! The ferries here are quite improvised and would probably immediately put out of order on a technical inspection in Germany. With a crew of four and only one guest with a motorcycle, the trip over the Koman lake eventually begins.

Fortunately, the ticket vendor joins me on the upper deck and we talk with each other. So the about 3 hour ferry crossing through the quite impressive valley is getting quite communicative. At some point, the ticket vendor told me that he had unfortunately miscalculated the price in Euro and got 1000 Lek too less from us. And the captain of the ship has told him to deduct that amount from his wages. Since it has seemed strange to me how little we had paid in Lek, I give him the 1000 Lek later, even though I hereby spend my last cash in Lek. With an earning of 5 euros per day (as he tells me later), the loss for him would be pretty hard. He does not speak very good about the captain, his boss. He accuses him of an alcohol problem, which is quite confirmed by the beer bottle in the cab.

We talk about many different things during the ferry crossing. He explains to me that the many plastic bottles floating on the lake come from the people who live here, who simply throw their plastic bottles into nature and then they are washed into the lake. He tells me that he comes from a family with 9 siblings, and lives in the summer in a settlement located halfway of the ferry tour. In winter, the family lives in Tirana. His siblings have to drive to school for 2 hours by boat. Then they have two hours of school and drive back on the boat for another 2 hours. In the settlement there are 8 families living. He and his family also offer overnight stays in their house for tourists, and they also have kayaks that tourists can use to sail on the lake. He works on the ferry for 3 days and then spends one night at home after which he returns to work for another 3 day again.

What works in the cab of the ferry: The Iveco six-cylinder diesel, the throttle, the rudder, which is controlled by a Mercedes steering wheel and of course the horn.

In between, the ticket vendor takes over the rudder from the captain and shows me what is not working in the cab. We agree that it may be easier to list what's working. The Iveco six-cylinder diesel, the throttle, the rudder, which is controlled by a Mercedes steering wheel and of course the horn.

After bailing him out about the ticket price, he wants to give me a drink or at least a coffee on arrival, but I refuse. I do not know in which condition the road to Shkodra will be and would like to arrive there in time so that I can change Euro in Lek. So I ride on after arrival. From the ferry dock, the road leads into a tunnel carved in the rock, in which one ride around the curve completely blind. Tunnel trips are a special experience in the Balkans as a motorcyclist, as you ride in without being able to see the condition of the ground because of the lack of lights. You don't see whether there are any potholes or other obstacles.

During our entire trip nobody tried to cheat us.

The route between Koman and Shkodra is paved and easy to ride despite quite a lot of potholes. So I arrive in time in Shkodra to change another 300 Euros. The exchange rate has not changed, but the money counting technique. This time he counts me 10000 Lek each. But I would trust him anyways. During our entire trip nobody tried to cheat us. This is amazing for a society where a lot of corruption exists.

I check in at Hotel Kaduku again, this time in the main building in a nicer room. There, on the wall in the foyer, I see that the 80-year-old owner has a long pedigree, most of which seem to have worked as dentists. The current owner could probably not take this profession, because he did not have the opportunity to complete a corresponding study abroad during the area of communist Albania.

Since I have to work a little bit in the evening and plan my next day, I'll go back to Vila Bekteshi for dinner. I know they have a reliable Wifi and their dishes are very well.