The sun comes out and we slowly start to stir. Suddenly the houses covered in dark are revealed.
As I start to pack up and prepare for our long journey ahead, I am gestured over by an elderly man, who has water running from a hose in his garden and offers to let me wash myself. Though the water is freezing I gladly accept, being without a shower for a couple of days now. I give myself a quick wash, and I can safely say that cold water was a quick wake up. I offer the water to Radek and Mrazik, and go back to finish packing. Not long the elderly man calls us over to his steel table outside for tea, cake, and, of course, a few shots of their home grown alcohol made of plums. The boys are hung over and take the offer happily, hoping to sooner be rid of their headaches. I, on the other hand, respectfully decline.
As we sit and enjoy our tea and cake, we tell him where we are going, and learn about his life. He explains that he is a dentist in the city Niksic. He even has an old dentist chair outside of his house, which Radek jokes that it is one of the modern chairs in Montenegro (Czech humor).
We notice after a while how popular he really is in this village, with many visitors coming in the morning to see him, as well as people honking at him (or perhaps his strange visitors in his yard) as they drive by on the main road.
Finally we are ready to head off. We bid goodbye to our kind and unexpected host and head for the mountains of Montenegro.
The first mountain we head up is not to far from the village we slept in, only a few kilometers away. It is a steep climb but the road is smooth asphalt for the most part, and we make it to the top without a problem. Suddenly, the road disappears, replaced by red dirt. Hoping this is the dirt road leading to Podgorica, the captial of Montenegro, we continue forth.
And for what it was worth it did come with a most beautiful view of the landscape.
Eventually we realize that this road leads to nowhere, dead ending in a construction site. We ask the young man guarding the site if we can please go through. He explains there is no where to go. So we ask him where we are and how we head to Podgorica. We show him our map but he is unable to point out even where we are at this moment. We decide to head back, and even though everything and everyone is covered in red dust as if we have been on Mars, the views on the way back were worth the trip.
We come off the mountain and back on the road we are originally on, hoping to find the main dirt road to Podgorica. Within a few kilometers we come across it without a problem.
I for one am very excited to start the off road part of our adventure! The road does not look to hard, as it is mainly flat without too many big rocks.
But I seemed to have forgotten the mountain part of our journey. Soon the road turns into serpentines, and is no longer so smooth for a dirt road. I take my first fall and survive. And then comes a second, and a third, and a forth. But hey, I came on this trip to get a little bit hurt and I keep going. Falling here and there. Then *BAM* I fall and my mirror is crushed! Oh well, who needs two mirrors anyways?
We reach a split in the road and wonder where to go. Should we continue upwards, or downwards? There are no signs, so after a little rest (and I energize up on some wild berries by the road), we head up, hoping this is the way to the city.
We reach break in the forest and enjoy the view. However, it looks like this is not where we are supposed to be as the road is thinning out.
But the view is quiet worth the extra km.
I sit and rest a bit while the boys go ahead to scope out the area and see if we should turn around. Exhausted, and a bit bored, I decide to take a picture of my missing mirror.
It is then I notice the fence. I thought this was quite odd up in the deserted mountains, and wondered what is was doing there, seemingly in a random spot. A few seconds later I hear Radek calling my name, and my questions are answered.
“Hilary, come on, bring your bike!”
Exhausted, I push my motorcycle towards Radek’s voice. I turn a corner around some trees and I’m surprised to see him standing next to an old woman, dressed in black with a scarf on tied around her head, sitting on a tree stump in front of a roughly built one room house.
She smiles at me, with more than a few teeth missing, and is completely shocked when she realizes I’m a girl.
She kindly gestures us to come into her house for food and drinks, and as I glance towards the small house another old woman with red hair and a purple dress comes out and waves us to come inside. I am exhausted and starving from our trip up the mountain, and I look forward to food and something to drink. We come inside to the one room house, where we sit on their beds, around a table.
The old women flutter around the place, bringing us fresh bread, home made cheese, packaged cookies, and of course some alcohol. I decline the alcohol, knowing our day is far from finished, but happily accept their bread and very very salty cheese, realizing how hungry I really was. After I get my initial bread fix, I start to look around their small…. cottage? Their kitchen was only a little corner of the small cottage.
I whipped my camera out and took a good look around.
We sit and talk with the nice ladies a bit, the red head stating that she has been to the Czech Republic in the south, Brno! It is a small world after all. The inform us that their son is out herding sheep, and that they stay in this small cottage all summer long! It was unbelievable. They ask us to stay longer but unfortunately we need to head out, and we say our goodbyes and thank them again for the refreshments.
As we are leaving I look back at their cottage and notice that there are other ones, abandoned a long time ago..
Our day continues with more dirty and rocky roads. Exhausting, but well worth it just in order to see the beautiful nature around us.
When we make it to the paved road I could almost kiss it! Enough of the dirt already, I’m exhausted but we still have a long way to go… and now that we are out of the forest, it is HOT. We head down the mountain on a never ending serpentine, with the sun shinning down on us and no shade in site. From the mountain we have a great view of the countryside and we see about 3 or 4 fires, evident by the smoke rising in the distance and smogging up the view. It made me feel even hotter. However, we survive, and at the bottom we meet up to discuss what to do next. Should we head to Podgorica? It is about 4pm, and we have lots of day light left so we decide to go for it… Until we see a sight that makes us break.
WATER! Hot and exhausted, we flip a U and head down to where some locals are swimming. I quickly rip off my (stinky) shoes and dump my feet into the water… ahhh, so much better!
The boys join me and we ponder about putting on our swimming suits. Then we look up and notice a restaurant… FOOD! Wow, we found the spot 🙂 So we go and order the Meat mix plate… And as hungry as we were, we couldn’t finish it, it was just way too big!
Now we are full of beer and great meat, I change in the bathroom and we go swimming. The water is freezing but yet still relieving. We hang out there for the rest of the afternoon, figuring we will camp there for the night. Radek starts to plan the rest of our journey, Mrazik decides to follow the local’s and start to fish. I help Mrazik a bit, but we cannot catch the fish like this one local fisherman can. So I decide to go to the store to get some previsions. Water, some breakfast (as we do not need to eat anything else for the rest of the day!), and on my way back I see these young boys out cruising the town that I just had to photograph!
As it starts to get dark we discuss setting up camp. We noticed that the guy who was fishing seems to be the father of our waiter in the restaurant. We ask him in our Czech + hand language if it is ok to sleep here. The man shakes his head, and it took us awhile to figure out that at night drug dealers and such enjoy this place. Oh dear, what are we going to do? We don’t want to travel far, we are exhausted, and we have all been drinking. Before we can start worrying much, the man invites us, in his Montenegro + hand signals to his garden. He says there is no problem to camp out there, and it would be a lot safer than at the local drug garden. Happily, we agree, and his son, who is now off work, leads us to their place.
It is almost dark when we get there, but his wife is out and about working and looking after their 1 year old daughter. Their are in the process of building their house, and while they have bedrooms and the living room done, the kitchen and washroom is outside in their garden. His wife offers us some coffee and their form of cola, which we agree. Soon the son and father come home, along with another daughter of theirs who is older (and simply gorgeous) and who speaks some English! So we drop the Czech and try to converse in English (though I think we were better off with the Czech personally 😉 ). Then some more people come over, neighbors of theirs, and it turns out we have another party, sharing stories as well as different types of alcohol. They show us their animals they have (though it is dark and I can’t see much), and there are kittens and cats running around everywhere. A different kind of life, but one I could enjoy!
It was a fun night, but I was glad to turn in. As the party breaks up, we roll out our sleeping bags and don’t even bother to set the tent. We fall asleep under the stars to wake up to another day on our adventure.
Continue on to Day 4 where we finally reach Albania!