Saranda/Albania June 2012.
We had experienced three fantastic days in Thethi with adventures and surprises more than we could expect but we were open for more. Heading back to Tirana partly by walking the 16 kilometers over the impressive mountains to Valbona valley was a very tempting idea..
The doubt presented itself the night before our supposed crossing via three Polish alpinists that arrived the opposite direction from the same trail.
They looked exhausted and haunted. The man was injured in the foot and described three dangerous sections with very steep snow-sections.
Yesterdays post explains what made us go anyway: https://hakanronnblad.com/2013/06/27/where-the-eagles-fly/
Led by Marash, our local guide we set off June 11 at around ten in the morning . Thethi valley has an altitude of more than 800m and in about 4-5 hours we would climb another 1000 meters before reaching the summit and then start to descend towards Valbona.
The climb was breathtaking both physically and esthetically but not dangerous…. so far!
In these sparsely populated parts of Albania the habitat is ideal for bear, wolf, mountain goat and of course the national bird the eagle.. as a surprise for me also for the schakal… I could definitely feel the presence of one during the entire walk.
An hour or so before the top we took a break and admired the mountain cliffs around us…. suddenly I saw them.. two eagles, majestically gliding around in the sky at about 300 meters distance . My long lens was clearly not long enough for a decent picture but it´s an eagle in one of the images.
After a short sleep we reached the top between the two valleys (panorama pic).
The descend resulted much more difficult especially with our not so professional equipment.
Several very steep snow-cowered passages demanded complete concentration. Luckily Marash knew the best places to put our feet and without his experience it would have been hard to get to Valbona. But after almost 9 hours we were installed at our destination in a guesthouse eating a well deserved dinner.
Thank you Erisa Cakalli and Marash. I would say you were ideal walking-companions..
Tomorrow June 23, Albania goes to election. The corruption is a big problem in the country and one of the main issues debated by the parties. Many says that it´s just words.. they are merely aiming for the power.
Last week me and my Albanian friend Erisa visited the isolated Thethi valley in the mountains of northern Albania
The owner of the guesthouse “Ded” insisted that I should attend the election campaign meeting that was taking place in our temporary home next day.
Ded was apparently very proud to be hosting the meeting with such distinguished guests. the preparations went on all night long with the unpacking of large amounts of beer and raki. Three sheeps were slaughtered to serve as main food ingredient for the guests.
Several hundreds of the locals were invited to listen to the socialist deputy from Shkoder, Tom Doshi. The deputy himself had paid all the expenses and he can afford it!
Someone whispered in my ear that he suddenly and surprisingly somehow had gained a substantial fortune. The money invested in casinos, construction company’s, TV channels etc has made him one of Albania’s richest men.
The politician and his company arrived in a Range Rover welcomed somewhat like a semi-god.
As being the only foreigner Ded introduced me to the deputy who mumbled something about respect and invited me and Erisa (she is also a good translator) to sit by his side at the VIP table in the main building.
This gave me a unique possibility to live some Albanian political game closeup and to experience the hot political discussion that took place when the local leader of the democratic party (the party of actual president Sali Berisha)) Gjergj Harusha turned to Tom Doshi and started to argue.
Deputy Tom Doshi is the man in white shirt and Gjergj Harusha wears a brownish coat.
A search on google “Tom Doshi” resulted in many hits, this is one: http://www.mjaft.org/news_en.php?faqe=news&newsid=1360
When it comes to hip factor, the town of Permet in south-eastern Albania does not score high points. But I see a lot of kindness in the eyes of the people I meet on this short visit.
Not so much seem to have changed sins the days of Enver Hoxha communist regime. The shops have that size and style that was top fashion about 1960.
In the park persons from all generations gather. It´s the same ritual every night, people sitting on the benches or walking around checking out other interesting persons.
The material wealth of Albania is so different from Sweden and yet in Permet the locals seem to have a good life!
And THANK YOU ERISA for making this visit possible and worthwhile.
Isolated from the rest of the country during six months each year, due to the snow, the locals of Thethi valley have to do some serious planning for their survival. There is no shop and no electricity available, so do not forget to buy your own toothpaste before you cross the mighty mountains surrounding Thethi.
Time seem to have frozen in this part of northern Albania. The land is cultivated by hand or behind the horse.
Some decades ago a large part of the male population died by the 500-year-old “kanun” family feud tradition implemented by Lek Dukagjin. The last blood revenge according to a village woman, happened five years ago!
Luckily these dark age customs lately seem to have been reduced considerably and as a guest it is hard to find a place where you will be treated in a better way.