Friday, April 8, 2011

Now a Bona Fide Traveler

After the six hour border adventure today (April 6th) I can officially say, that after four months + of traveling I am now a legitimate traveler. I thought spending the night sleeping on the floor of the Moscow airport was a testament to how traveled I had become but today, today was the true test of my travel-will.

Goodbye Ohrid

I left Ohrid knowing that this border crossing wasn't going to be as simple as hopping on a bus, quickly stopping at the border to get a nice new stamp in my passport and then moving on. 
We made it from Ohrid to Sv. Naum, looked quickly at the spring, journeyed quickly up the hill to the monastery where, to my surprise, we were met by a flock of peacocks. 

Peacocks thinkin' they be Monks
After Sv. Naum we attempted to take the short cut to the border just over the hill. Unfortunately that short cut is also military property and there is a guard that speaks enough English to say that he can't speak English guarding the entrance. He shook his head and pointed back at the road. Sigh. So we walked from Sv. Naum to this fork in the road.

 And then we walked 2 (felt like 3) km to the border with our packs.
Pierre and Joe travelers I met in Ohrid

Crossing borders becomes an Olympic event as you pack your 17 kg + back pack at least 2 km over a mountain and across no man's land until you make it to the next country.

As I crossed from the Macedonia into Albania, I had a moment of clarity and in the back of my mind the song from The Sound of Music started playing, "Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, until you find your dream." I realized walking that distance that sometimes traveling, like everyday life, is difficult. Sometimes you have to trek up a mountain in order to make it to your next destination but, as my blog states, up there at the top somewhere: One's destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things. Instead of complaining like I normally would (this is something I've learned about myself, I'm complainy) I took this on as a mini-challenge. If I can do this, I thought to myself, I can do just about anything. So instead of hiking up the hill wanting to die, I walked up the hill, enjoyed the sun on my face, took in the new buzz in the air that always accompanies spring and thought about how awesome my quads would be if I did this everyday. (They would be really great, just FYI).

I was pleasantly surprised that the border crossing itself wasn't that difficult. It wasn't until I boarded the mini-van from hell that I truly appreciated life.

Multiple times I thought I was going to die. I seriously considered writing a note to friends and family in the case that we swerved to pass a car and tumbled down the 40km cliff that was directly to the left of us.

Obviously, I survived to write about it so in the end it wasn't anything too terrible. In fact, it made me a bit nostalgic for the mini-van trips I frequently took in Laos.

Now I'm here in Tirana, Albania at this sweet hostel with a sweet garden and a grill. Also I inspired one of the hostel workers to paint a bird on the wall. Pretty nifty. 

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