DRUGS OR DEVELOPMENT: Gentle people with BIG hearts in Albania - that’s what I have experienced.

Oct.30: Vlore is a beautiful city. We were up early and this lovely man gave us an orange and a bunch of mandarins. 

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We talked to several people who advised us against paddling around the peninsula. The major problems are currents and no safe landing place if the wind should pick up. 

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Though a beautiful route, we safe it and ask a local to drive us. He agrees and we set off just over 07:00. 

   We stored our kayaks in a restaurant and in the morning, the driver was waiting to lend a hand.  

We stored our kayaks in a restaurant and in the morning, the driver was waiting to lend a hand.  

The route over the mountains was breathtaking. We stop at the summit for coffee and toast. The drivers son worked there. The father was happy to introduce us.  

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Switchbacks, steep slopes, fantastic view of Corfu, all part of Albania’s wonderful nature.  

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Low hovering clouds. Calm waters. Can’t wait to paddle.  

 We stop in Dhermi, repack and get through the first barrier of breaking waves. Off towards Sarandë, 80 km. It’s a hard paddle. 

We stop in Dhermi, repack and get through the first barrier of breaking waves. Off towards Sarandë, 80 km. It’s a hard paddle. 

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Calm waters at first and then the wind picks up as we get closer to our midway destination, Porto Palermo. We paddle around a bend and find a perfect cove to eat lunch and rest our backs. 

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After lunch we cross an amazingly long stretch of beautiful coastline. I feel both priveleged and humbled to experience this journey. 

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From Porto Palermo to our intended campsite will be a 25 km sit-in-kayak-paddle. Everything is silent. No cars. No sounds. Meandering clouds and fleeting reflections on the water - no noise. 

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The white beach we saw on google maps last night is, by far, more beautiful than expected. Wind blowing against us, we approach the shore and beach the kayaks. The whole kilometer beach is just for The Piece Prize. :) 

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Evening falls and the campfire keeps the approaching cold dampness at bay. It’s been a great day. Tomorrow we should reach Greece. 

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Albania has a reputation. What I have experienced is a huge pocket of hard working people with dreams and aspirations like everyone else. With no labor laws, people work day and night. Unemployment for young adults is 25%. People have smiles despite enduring hardship. This country is in a positive current of change and decent people are driving this movement. Drugs, criminality and survival of the fittest, are part of the game, but the underlying strength are people with BIG hearts.