(English version below)
Un cop caminades Tailàndia, Birmània, Bangladesh, Índia, Pamir, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Azerbaidjan, Geòrgia, Turquia, Grècia i Macedònia amb aproximadament uns 12.700 quilòmetres als peus, ara entrem a Albània i seguim per Montenegro, que agrupem en aquesta mateixa entrada per ser distàncies relativament curtes.
Goodbye, Macedonia! Hello, Albania and Montenegro!
For those of you keeping tabs on our journey, we can now add Macedonia to the list of places we walked, which includes: Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pamir, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. The latest milestone brings our tally to roughly 12,700 kilometers walked, done, finished, in the sack.
Després de Tailàndia caminàvem Birmània per encabat saltar a Àsia central per poder caminar Pamir, Tadjikistan i Uzbekistan evitant el seu cru hivern, així com també l’asfixiant monsó a Bangladesh i Índia. A continuació vàrem reprendre la ruta a Bangladesh, un pèl massa aviat per que les primeres setmanes ens ofegàvem de calor, humitat i en alguna que altra tempesta de final de monsó. Entrar a Índia per passar tot l’hivern ens va regalar perfectes temperatures diürnes, però poques hores de llum amb fredes nits i matinades on la boira espessa ens va acabar de congelar. L’operació quirúrgica de Jenn va marcar una important fita durant l’estada a Índia. Des de maig a juliol vàrem caminar Iran per creuar Azerbaidjan durant un agost severament calorós que ens va causar forces problemes, però després vàrem gaudir d’un molt bon setembre a través de les muntanyes, valls i rius del sud de Geòrgia. A continuació vàrem estar molt de temps creuant la llarga Turquia resseguint el mar Negre per després passar al mar de Marmara. Recentment hem creuat una part del nord de Grècia, bressol de la nostra civilització i hem campat per les muntanyes i llacs de Macedònia. Ara entrem a Albània per seguir posteriorment per Montenegro.
Mirarem de seguir publicant i informant tan sovint com ens sigui possible, però com sempre, si no podem comunicar-nos, actualitzar o publicar molt freqüentment, assumiu que estem feliçment caminant entre bones persones i sobretot, que estem bé (o molt bé).
Així doncs, faré / farem el que bonament podrem, sense oblidar-nos de tots vosaltres que molt amablement ens seguiu, us interesseu per nosaltres, ens recolzeu i doneu ànims per continuar i als que us estem MOLT agraïts.
We got off to a rough start in Macedonia.
People were not particularly friendly near the border town of Gevgelija, which hosts many casinos for gambling-loving Greeks and has had its share of immigrant issues. We were stopped by police and border patrols five times in two walking days, a record for us. We usually get asked for our passports only a couple times post-border crossing for walking, which in many places is considered a suspicious activity. Macedonia is obviously under a lot of pressure from EU powers to stop the northward migration of refugees and immigration from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria; this is evident by the fact that Czech and Croatian police were assisting local police in our passport checks.
Luckily, though from Demir Kapija to Lake Ohrid, the edges softened and we had some amazing experiences with locals. We were invited into homes, shared meals and had many hours of conversations in mixed English and Macedonian. On the road, some people offered us fresh-baked bread, apples, soda and grilled meat. People smiled and offered us rides. We leave with a better impression of a country in transition from being a former Yugoslav republic to being a small independent nation establishing new footing as a NATO and EU hopeful.
A couple of our favorite days were spent volunteering at a drug rehab center. We happened upon it completely by chance, and were so glad to be able to meet people who are courageously facing their own demons and doing the hard work of walking a path of self-discovery. Our volunteer drops of love and encouragement came in the form of cutting grass, doing yardwork, cleaning the basement, washing dishes and helping in the kitchen. Over Turkish coffee, we were inspired by stories of the student-patients who told us about some of the things they lived through and how they are slowly turning their lives around. We carry them and the staff who is helping them through a big milestone in our hearts.
Like in Greece, we found great small roads to walk on where there were more tractors than cars. Better still were the gorgeous trails we found through a mountain forest between Majden and Vitolishte, and around Lake Ohrid. Some of the uphills and downhills were challenging with our heavy packs, and if it had rained a couple days before we got there, the stream crossings and muddy paths would have been more frustrating. But, fortunately, we had mostly good weather, and walking under the protection of pines, oak and other forest trees was comforting and invigorating.
Up next are Albania and Montenegro, which we think will be among our shortest distances. It looks like our route will keep us in each country for less than two weeks.
As always, we have no idea what our connectivity will be like or how soon we’ll be back online.
Crossing borders means getting new money, new SIM cards and figuring things out in another language we don’t speak. In the case of Albania and Montenegro, we may not get SIM cards at all because we think we will be there for a short time. We may just rely on WiFi where we can find it.
But, check back here now and again. We both have blogs scheduled in the next few weeks.
And, we are posting on Instagram and Facebook as we can. Our handle on both pages is @bangkokbarcelonaonfoot. The links are below:
Thanks for walking with us!