Photo by Jordan Scott of Lisa soaking it up in a remote sulfuric hot springs near Pёrmet, Albania. A stone bridge built by Ali Pasha during the Ottoman Empire arcs in the distance.
An excerpt from my Epilogue in Wild Life:
Dogs terrify me.
A pack of barking dogs unseen but heard approach us as we walk on the gravel road back to the Hotel Livia. It is an inky black night in the countryside of Butrint, Albania. The full moon late to rise.
Dogs with bared fangs in foreign countries are the most terrifying. Albania is not known for its modern medical facilities. The Bradt guidebook advises travelers to go to the military hospital in the capital of Tirana and warns that rabies are endemic.
Meanwhile, I ready the only weapon in reach—a jangling money belt filled with Albanian lek—to clout the beasts over the muzzle. In despair, I imagine a big-jawed mutt capturing a nylon strap in its teeth, playing tug-of-war, my hands inches from its salivating mandibles.
Jordan, my sweet love and knight in shining armor, pulls out his iPhone and, voila!, activates the flashlight app. The dogs slink into the scrub oak forest.
My heartbeat slows as a bronze-faced moon rises over the rim of Corfu, just two kilometers across the channel, lighting our way.
In blogs and guidebooks, we were warned about the perils of travel in Albania: gigantic ankle-twisting potholes, finger-busting gangsters, nothing to eat but 27 types of meatballs, no hot water, insane drivers, no English spoken.
Albania turns everything on its ear that is written about it. We encounter no thugs, no meatballs, and find plenty of hot water, safe drivers, and English spoken. Sure, there are a few potholes. And poisonous snakes, of which we’ve seen four, including the deadly Ursini’s Viper.
For one month we have relied on the travel mercies of the Albanian people as we explore their country via foot and public transport. The care and attention they offer us is remarkable, even though we speak only a few words of Albanian. “Po” means “yes,” and a hand on the heart is a blessing mixed with “thank you.”
That is all we need besides our money belt and a smartphone. And a large dose of trust and curiosity about all things human and earthy; dreamlike and inexplicable.
If you would like to read about my wanderings in other countries including Morocco, Kenya, Poland, Cuba, France, Fiji, Georgia, please go to my travel posts page.
On distant shores lies treasure, food, and friends. — Gulliver’s Travels
Where to after these past stories have been woven? My travel ventures in 2017 include a storytelling voyage to Fez, Morocco. Then in the fall harvest time my love interest and I will don our hiking boots and practice sticking out our thumbs for a walk-about in Georgia and Armenia . If you have any travel tips or connections in that part of the planet, please share them with me.
At a recent literary event I was asked, “What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling?”
The answers came as songs in my heart:
* That we are very fortunate to travel freely as women in this day and age. This is my first lifetime as a free woman.
* That the world is an inherently good place filled with kind and generous people who open their hearts, minds, and lives to wandering strangers.
* That the poorest people may be the most generous.
* To cook for people on the road and share food. I always traveled in South America with a wicker basket. In it were a stove, beans, popcorn, tuna, rice, oil. I served up meals to starving explorers and Chilean fisherfolk. Heard great stories and drank a lot of wine sitting on the ground or on porches listening to their stories. For they had experiences I will never have but I can live them through the teller’s tale. I danced in strangers homes and in carnival frenzies in wicked streets. Fabulous way to meet people!
* To keep my eyes open so I do not miss the green flash at sunset.