Lake Ohrid and the Albanian driver

Struga Travel Blog

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This part of Macedonia is hilly, wooded and very beautiful - in stark contrast to the wintery Skopje I saw last Feb.  Walking toward the Albanian border, a truck carrying bottles pulls over and and a man offers me a lift which I grately accept.  He is Albanian and speaks not one word of English.  Turns out the only way we have of communicating is in badly mangled Russian.  His Russian is passable and mine stinks, so in tandem with hand motions we communicate only the basics.  On the question of where I'm from, it seems like a good idea to skirt the whole American thing, a habit I've gotten into since my bad experiences in Russia.  I tell him a lie, that I'm from Harare, Zimbabwe.  It's far enough away that he'll have no reason to doubt me.   It just seems like a safe thing to say.  He lives in Skoder, a town in the north of the country and asks if I will stay with him and his family for a few days.  Sounds like a great idea.  The views along our drive are fantastic with wild cherry trees, steep mountains, and goats.  I see hundreds of cement domes, approximately 6 feet across and two feet tall all over the countryside and ask him what these are.  He says they are bunkers designed to house four rifle bearing men and that the previous communist strongman Hoxha was paranoid and ordered that one be built for every four people in the country to guard against invasion by either Greece or Yugoslavia.   Hoxha nearly bankrupted the already impovershed country in the process.  Nowadays, the driver says with a smile, they pose as the worlds most expensive public urinal system, as that's pretty much all they are good for. 

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photo by: delsol67