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Mountains of Albania

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Mountains of Albania

A teenage girl looks queasy as the bus quickly rounds mountain switchback after mountain switchback in rural Albania. The driver is yelling and screaming about something and gesturing with his hands in wild motion. The bus flies around another curve and I am sure that the driver does not have more than one hand on the wheel at any given moment. I think he is talking about soccer. The girl calls for a plastic bag and then pukes in it.
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Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Istanbul, Turkey- February 10, 2009
Travelogue Travel Photos — Travel Guide
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Chaya is sound a sleep, and I am glad. The half full bag of puke is then passed over top of her head and onto another nauseous passenger in the rear of the bus. He pukes into it, too. The plastic bag of collective puke is then passed hand to hand back up to the front of the bus, over top of Chaya’s sleeping head, and to the bus driver. I watch curiously as the driver sits with it perilously in his lap until he finishes telling his story, and only then does he toss it out of the window. He then raises both arms in the air and celebrates as if he scored a soccer goal. The rest of the bus cheers.

I then noticed that there are not any hands on the steering wheel of the bus, as we somehow navigate another hairpin curve. There is a steep ravine dropping a thousand feet to my right. At its bottom I can make out the rusted carcass of a car that did not successfully navigate this turn. I shrug my shoulders and celebrate with the rest of the bus. The driver scored a goal, the bag of puke was out the window, and we were alright.

We were traveling to Gramsh, and I wrote in my notebook the following words:

“You know you are going someplace good when the road you are traveling is so windy that the people in the bus are puking their brains out into the same plastic bag.”

We were going into the interior of Albania, behind the country’s mountainous veil. The curves in the road passed under us as if we were riding upon the back of a great serpent, and we were plunged deeper and deeper into the mountains on a cloudy afternoon. We were being lead into a neverland sort of place that I could not have dreamed existed: scree littered grey mountains which stood silently still in the equally grey sky, the impact of humans seemed to have occurred at some vague point in the distant past, and all manifestations of organized society were discarded and left to rot like space junk upon the surface of the moon. I could not decide if this place was being re-discovered or if it would never be used again. A half-built, abandoned Soviet dam stood in between a mountain pass gushing a torrent of water 30 feet into the air through cracks in its broken walls. This was evidence enough that this land existed solely in the inaccessible vault of times passed. Without the cloak and dagger maneuvers of the Communist era, the mountains of Albania stand forgotten. I smiled as I looked out upon a silent army of disused mushroom shaped concrete bunkers: the ruins of an age of action now sit vacant. The coast is clear – no enemy, no war, only mountains.

Abandon factory from the Communist era in the mountains of Albania.

Mountains and rivers of Albania.

Related Pages:
Tirane Albania Good City
Another Couchsurfing Adventure Shkoder Albania
Travel to Albania

Mountains of Albania

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Filed under: Albania, Eastern Europe, Europe

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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