May 18-19, 2019

I took a day off on the 18th in Himarë to better start my journey to Vlora. Between the two cities there is a coast of a thousand meters that I anticipated with fear. In fact, I shortened my journey and stopped at Radhimë for reasons explained below.

One of the strangest things I’ve seen in Albania is the dordolecs. The first one I saw was a cub hanging by the neck near a house, which was rather gloomy. Afterwards I saw them in trucks, hanging from the windshield or in the front window, in dismal condition. It seems that this is a trick to distract the evil eye and therefore avoid curses. The dordolec functions as a scarecrow. The evil eye misses the intended target by being attracted to the incongruous object. A young man I consulted in Himarë was of the opinion that the phenomenon occurs mainly in southern Albania and would be mainly related to Orthodox Christians…

Here’s a map of my journey. You can guess the pitch of the road which was quite steep.

And here are the pictures of Himarë and my journey to Radhimë

Finally, the descent after climbing for more than three hours was anything but pleasant. The weather got bad and I felt like I was riding in a storm, fortunately free of rain. I rode at a dizzying speed virtually without pedaling with the constant fear of getting pushed off the street by the wind. Back in Radhimë, I stopped at the all-inclusive hotel (Pastarella Summer Radhimë) practically deserted and negotiated a night with breakfast for 30 Euro.

After my supper, I went out to do an inventory of the place and taking a picture of a small mandarin orchard I was questioned by the owner of the place who kindly offered to take a rakir, something I could not refuse. So we sat out at the table with his wife and daughter who served as translator. The daughter was apparently a kick boxing champion in Albania, one of the first girls to practice the sport with the encouragement of her father and the tolerance of her mother who does not like to see her daughter take blows. Albania is changing rapidly!

Mandarine grove
The mandarin orchard

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