Yesterday I took a furgon (large passenger van) from Vlorë back to Sarandë. It cost $8.50 US and it took almost 4 hours to go 67 miles. It’s very mountainous so even in a car it takes almost 2 1/2 hours.
The furgon stops for every person who happens to be standing at the roadside, in case they want to get on. Some people ride for just a few miles. The driver also runs delivery errands for people. He stopped along the road to pick up two bottles of milk from a guy, and dropped them off about 5 miles farther up. We waited 15 minutes for an old man to make his way down his long steep driveway, to be handed a bag of empty 2 liter water bottles! And we stopped to deliver a new microwave to someone. Hey at least it’s not one of those “chicken” buses, though they might be allowed too, maybe I just haven’t seen any yet.
The scenery between the two cities is gorgeous! I saw lots of grapevines and olive groves, and some people harvesting olives the old-fashioned way. They spread big tarps under the tree and use long pole thingies to shake the branches so the olives fall off onto the tarps. (The modern way is to use mechanical tree-shakers) It takes 80-100# of olives to make a gallon of olive oil.
And shepherds herding flocks of everything…..sheep, goats, cows, turkeys and Guinea hens!
I was really anxious about getting to Sarande before dark, as I’m not completely confident about being able to recognize my bus stop in the dark. I got lucky! We arrived just as the sun was going down and just in time to catch the once an hour city bus out to my neighborhood. Once I got there my heart sank when I saw that the outer door to the building was shut. I was soooo tired, I really didn’t want to have to walk the three extra blocks to get around to the downstairs entrance. But it wasn’t double locked and I was able to wrestle it open. Oops, I only bent the key a little bit!
Today I went to town to try and buy lots of stevia. Sadly, they had only one 1 kilo (2.2#) cannister that cost $21.39 US (ouch!) And it’s not pure stevia; it’s mixed with erythritol. Maybe I can get one of the shops in Vlorë to order a case of it for me. I also bought some little pellets of cyclamate, which was banned I the US in 1969 because it was thought to be carcinogenic but has always been allowed in most other countries, including Canada. It is now being reevaluated in the US because of it’s safe use in other countries.
I met a nice American lady while waiting for the bus home! Wouldn’t you know I’d meet a prospective friend two days before I leave here. But she might come to Vlorë. She seemed woefully ignorant of the immigration policies here. She didn’t know that Americans can stay 12 months, and wasn’t aware that there’s a Retiree Residency available. The only weird thing is that I asked her where she lived and she told me that she’d rescued 7 puppies and was living in an old abandoned gas station! Ehhhh…does that mean she’s homeless?? I’m not sure I want to get all tangled up with someone that desperate, though she seemed real cheerful about it. Is that mean of me? I gave her my email address so she can contact me and then I can send her the official info on the 12 month visa and my apartment agent in Vlorë.
I have to take a walk down to the little market to see if they have any boxes I can use for moving. I don’t have a whole lot more stuff than I arrived with, but I have purchased some kitchen things that were lacking, and I’ll have to take the food I’ve bought. I am taking a private car back to Vlorë on Thursday at a cost of $100 USD.