The EU and the Ministry of Environment in Albania want to zone the Valbona valley as a National Park. This is a wonderful idea except that people already live in the valley. Some of the poorest farmers in Europe scratch out a living in this beautiful place. Catherine and I are collecting data from interviews and photos to show that zoning must accommodate local needs. (Actually Catherine does the interviews. I take photos.)
We are not having an unusual summer here. Or at least Albanians are not. I am. The heat is brutal. I bought an air conditioner but now am trapped in a dark apartment. I fled to Macedonia thinking the mountains would be cooler. They were not. So I went to Greece, again seeking mountain cool. I learned that mountains need to be much higher to be any cooler. At least the transort was air conditioned.
My feet have finally healed. Weeks after this adventure.
After coming off the mountain, we stumbled into a hotel restaurant and settled down to eat. We than arranged to have a taxi take us back to the car. The taxi driver arrives, we say hello and he says, “are you foreigners?” as if it would be a problem. “Where are you from?” Chris says he is English and I am American. The driver asks “What’s the difference?” We are stumped. Then the conversation gets better. The driver is Macedonian but raised in Australia, hates Greeks and can barely tolerate Albanians. When we arrive at Chris’ car, the driver offers to remove Chris’ Greek license plates. We can’t get away quick enough.
Later we also learn that we had slept on that mountain ledge only a 40 minutes hike away from our car! argh!!