I have an audience to pack up the tent. Three guys lean over the fence and watch every move with fascination. “Where you from?” they ask, but also “Did you sleep well?” and “Were you warm enough?”.
I make myself a large cup of coffee with the last of the instant, and some porridge – the first bowl I’ve had in ages. As I sit there eating it, I see ants. I’ve come to the conclusion that there ants everywhere. They might be teeny tiny or bloody enormous ones but ants, ants. I have a couple of small holes in my tent tarp., and I suspect this came from packing away one of those bloody enormous ones.
Four small young hens also squeeze through the fence looking for breakfast – hopefully some ants. They are accompanied by a scrawny white cockerel (probably the one making some of the racket this morning).
There are also two horses being fed with nose bags next door – plus a small foal that has helped himself from his dam, and is now eating grain from a bowl on the ground. Both ponies have pack saddles on.
Several more people come to peek over the fence – I now know how it feels to be in a zoo – but at least they all seem very happy to see me. I get my camera out to take a picture of my audience and the one woman scampers away very quickly.
The sun is coming over the top of the hill and it feels hot again very quickly.
I start out about 8.30am and pushing the bicycle up the hill, I met a young lad who I thought was a cowherd – as he was with a couple of cows in the field. However he left them behind and started to walk alongside me, offering to help push my bicycle. Then he got his willy out (and you’ll have to excuse the euphemism) and waved it at me. I turned my back on him and pushed Rowenna as quickly as I could away. Then he ran up and touched me - this made me very angry and I shouted “no” and went to hit him – yelling about being old enough to be his mother and he should know better and various other old English expletives that are probably better not repeated here. Anyway, he responded by putting his hands together and saying “sorry, sorry” several times, whilst backing off. I was furious at him for having ruined what had been a pleasant morning. And for making true what everyone worries about when a woman considers travelling alone. It was a reminder that so many blokes just have sex on their mind and think unaccompanied Western women are ‘fair game’ and that I could be vulnerable (which I did already know). I wasn’t too worried that morning as there was plenty of traffic on the road, and lots of other folk around – in fact we arrived in another small village fairly shortly after this incident, and the road started to slope down so I could leave the culprit behind fairly sharpish. But it upset my equilibrium. What a plonker! He looked more stupid and far less impressive than Besmike’s donkey when he had let his wanger hang out.
Not long after this horrible incident, I was at the top of the hill admiring the view overlooking Mount Korab, when a Campervan pulled up – with a Polish couple driving – Jasek and Viv. They invited me for breakfast – so I had coffee, bread, cheese and jam with them and all became right in the world again. They were on their way to Macedonia too – in their two weeks holiday. Their son, they said, didn’t like travelling (just like Steve) but I said I thought he probably enjoyed the house to himself more than he wanted to go travelling with Mum and Dad!
I continued on to a large town called Peshkopi and had a little debate as to whether I’d need more Albanian Lek and decided not – I was close enough to Macedonia to last out. I stopped for a coffee and to check I was on the right road out of town (it’s a large town, did I say?). I was, but I had attracted the attention of all the guys in the café again. I was bought the coffee and offered a lift to the border by a guy going that way anyway. This ‘hitch-biking’ without me even having to stick out my thumb seems to have become a habit, so I didn’t refuse. Which means I got to the border even quicker than I thought, and this time there was no problems crossing (though I didn’t get a stamp this time either).