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Monday, 17 August 2015

Vjosa, waves, and foam: rafting in Albania (II)



Mid-June: start of the rafting season on Vjosa. We were there to make it happen, after our previous day rafting through the unbelievable Osumi Canyon. There were waves, yes. There was foam, yes. And there was clear and cool water. Perfect for that day’s heat, which already seemed unbearable.
Courtesy of Albania Rafting Group
As I think back, I remember with a smile how angry I was at one of our team’s members to ditch us and run Vjosa by kayak instead… I also remember the comforting surprise on our faces when Zamo himself – the president of the Albanian Rafting Federation – came to steer our raft… and I also remember the taste of my huge cheese and tomato sandwich, courtesy of Albania Rafting Group, that I had for lunch… but the clearest image in my mind is the mountainous backdrop – those giants that seemed to be tumbling down the river bed.
Courtesy of Albania Rafting Group
The sun had taken its toll: I had gotten sunstroke and I felt pretty nauseated by the time we got to the hot pools in Benjë. In search for a cozier hot pot, we ended up on a strenuous walk/climb, crossing water and helping one another not to slip. The sight of the old stone bridge was a delight both at the beginning and at the end of our hot pool scout. Time had freeze-framed its arched posture.
Heat and history @the old bridge
By getting into the cars on our way back to Berat, fun was again unleashed and laughter came to the forefront, harder than during any other moment of that day: we stopped for refreshments and then for an impromptu picnic on a mountain ridge. With the smooth setting of the sun over the valleys, I was again at a loss for words and couldn’t make up my mind as to which of the mountain roads in Albania I liked best.
And when darkness made its final move and only dust could be perceived dancing on the edge of the cliffs, I knew that I would miss my friends, my time, and my way of being in this amazing country. I smile again, whenever I remember. And it fills my heart.  
Into the dust we disappear

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