Saturday, July 4, 2009
Passing through Leskovak, we devoured a kilo of cherries beside a cool mountain spring and then contiued to meader relentlessly up to 1200m, down to 900m, up to 1200m, down to 900m, etc. With each crest my heart filled with anticipation of the first wide open sighting of the jaw droppingly spectacular 1759m Barmash Pass. With every 300 meters lost my mind kept telling me, "if the high point of the pass is at 1759m then it must be surrounded by snowy peaks so beautiful that, seeing the pass from a distance would spur me on to flit my way easily up the final climb in order to take in the raw geography of an Albania made even more vivid by all the exercise induced endorphins pumping through my system".
However, my endorphin filled colour rush was nowhere to be found. Don't get me wrong, the curvaceous ride through pine forests was beautiful, but our climb never cleared 1250m. Barmash Pass came and went quite unheroically. It was just another of countless rolls up to 1200m, down to 900m, up to 1250m. We realized where the pass was while studying the map and eating a most delicious stewed veggies with rice in the restaurant of Hotel Inxhujo in Permet. "Hey, remember the little village of Barmash where that war monument was? I think that was the pass!". Our Lonely Planet guide book was quite off the mark once again. The stew was a fine consolation for the missing 500 meters LP was falsely advertising, besides we would find our high point much later. For now we headed into the territory of Korce and the highlight of our trip in the hometown of Basil's dear friend Abner's family in a small village called Kuc I Zi.