Albania Day 12
Radhime to Berat 92km. 720 m
Well the day set if well but ended badly, for me at least. After a good breakfast with the compulsory cheese and egg we headed north along the coast with gentle slopes and a view of the sea on our left. As we entered Vlorë we ignored another ’No Entry’ sign and went through the tunnel on the footpath which had vertical angle iron posts which would be deadly if we caught our bars on them. On our exit we followed a very pleasant cycle way along the boulevard into the town centre. We had a problem here at the central roundabout where our exit was completely blocked off due to roadworks. After some dodging around side streets and up and down steep kerbs and steps we got back onto our route and headed north east. We psssed a very fertile area with all manner of crops, barley, maize, grapes etc. Today I have never seen as many men riding on small hay carts full of grass, pulled by donkeys. We even saw some with bales on the carts. We did see quite a few mid sized 4 cylinder tractors such as
Fiats and Fords plus the odd John Deere, but what caught my eye was an old tall twin cylinder tractor with a Chinese name in the bonnet, pulling a slurry,or water,tank. We now headed inland and eventually entered a decent sized town where we stopped at the roadside to get water and a banana from Armand. Alongside was a very kind man selling chairs who set them up for us to sit on in the shade whilst we ate. As we left town I was hit on the upper lip by a wasp I think, which did a quick injection of some unwanted substance. I got two of my nails and purged it immediately and could feel it throbbing and swelling. I must have done good because within an hour things were back to normal. Out in the sticks I saw a very small pharmacy so stopped and bought some Ibuprofen for 560 Leks -bargain. I can now take some painkillers at lunch to allay the pain setting up in my left thigh. Lunch was at the other side of a steep hill at 77km where bottom gear was needed yet again. We had the usual salad and cheese etc
with chips and lamb in mint and lemon. Very tasty. All that was required then was to head south east with a marvellous tail wind along the valley to our destination of Berat. I will never forget this place - ever. As I was heading down the road in town at about 20 mph a grey Mercedes overtook me and pulled across in front of me when his mirror was alongside me. I thought, ’What the xxxxx’ and the next thing I was being flung onto the floor by the roadside. I laid there on my back winded and my right forefinger in pain. I was Soon surrounded by a horde of people, luckily John and Kay were right behind me and saw the whole thing and Nurse Kay loooked after me. There hadn’t been such excitement since Prince Harry’s wedding. Many locals were there wanting me to get up on my feet. Leave me to recover for 10 mins please. One guy thought he was doing me a favour by bringing some spirits, which I think was rakky, and thinking it was water it got in my eyes. On reflection it could gave been a ploy to make the
police think I was drunk. That was painful in my eyes and could not see until clean water was squirted in them . The police landed and called an ambulance and then Armand arrived. He picked up my bike with the handlebars and saddle twisted and a crushed helmet and took them to the hotel before collecting me from the hospital later. I had my blood pressure taken and my pulse and then was put in the ambulance and laid on a stretcher and strapped in whilst a couple of medics cleaned my wounds. Two on my head and left cheek, my right wrist, and right forefinger, which had a long gash and a deep wound at the knuckle. At the hospital they irrigated the wounds again and put on iodine, which stings somewhat, before putting bandages on. I was left looking like a WW1 wounded soldier back from the front. The emergency and hospital staff were kind and did a good job of patching me up quickly. Why was I born so lucky? Armond came to tell me that the police had impounded my bike pending further enquiries on the case. If I made a case of it I
could be kept in Albania for months until it was resolved. This was a no brainer so in the end I had to tell a white lie and say that I had been upset by the car, braked and fell off with no impact. To make mattets worse the uncles of the culprit arrived in the hospital, no doubt wanting to pervert the course of justice. Armand told them to leave. Three long forms later and many questions before we were allowed to leave to collect my bike at the police station. A policeman came out to shake hands and bid me farewell and hoped that I enjoyed the rest of my stay in Albania. Three hours later and we arrived at the hotel. It is said that One Albanian, one mind. Two Albanians and three minds. Since democracy the authorities have floundered with no protocols for dealing with problems and therefor chaos rules in government. I was lucky to escape.
At dinner Armand got out his medical kit and redressed my wounds and put two stitches in my knuckle with a splint on to restrict movement. Dr Armand is a wizard.
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