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03 Aug 10

An Adventurous Holiday, Part I : Getting Ready

Dusica Ikic Cook

I count the years from the end of one holiday to the beginning of a new one. And, it was as if I knew the year would be a very difficult one, I started planning the 2010 holiday well in advance.

Indeed, the year (from September to August) was nothing but a real emotional roller-coaster. I don’t want to remember it and look back with the desire to explain, but will just say that the planning had some therapeutic power over me and it proved to be a beacon which I bore down on.

The initial plan was to go to Greece, see the archaeological sites, put a tent up in a quiet place, drink some Greek wine, eat calamari, and swim in the sea. But, no visa for Bosnians this year and, thus, no EU coast and beaches. Never mind! Greece is not the only country in the region to which we could drive for the purpose of a good, content-filled and happy holiday. The second choice was Albania.

Our friends thought we were completely out of our mind when we told them where we planned to go. They just shook their head and did not even ask any questions, for they knew nothing of the country and had nothing to ask about. We tried to educate them; even tried to invite a few to join us. No success on that front. We were going on our own; my daughter, my nephew, my boyfriend and me!

For me, a holiday is not just sunbathing and swimming in the sea; cocktails do not have an appeal for me, and beach bars are far from my mind at the moment. So, the holiday is something where I see things and the things I want to see are the old ones… ruins, castles, ancient cities, museums… We cannot appreciate our culture (which, actually is no culture
really) without seeing and learning about what had been around centuries before our time.

So, Albania, to me, was a perfect choice to do a plan similar to the earlier plan with Greece; untouched natural beauties, ancient cities, medieval towers and two seas. The plan involved slow travel through Serbia and Macedonia and even slower travel along the south of Albania, and then towards the north, taking us to Kavaje (where Caesar defeated Pompey once and for all), visiting Tirana and ending our Albanian adventure with the visit to Skadar. The return home should take us through Montenegro, along the Piva Lake, and then over the Romanija Mountain to our sweet hometown, Tuzla.

Now, the tour is before us, and what divides us from the expected pleasures is the pile of stuff we needed to take along. Two adults and two kids, one of which matches an adult in size, in a tiny Fiat Punto, along with the full camping gear, computers, photo-cameras and lenses. I was optimistic until the very end.

My boyfriend, Alen, warned me about not going over the top with the “necessities”, but to be sensible and bring the stuff that was really needed. We agreed on just a tent, a couple of dishes, plastic plates, cups and cutlery, a few T-shirts and shorts, chairs and nothing else. Of course, me being me, meant nothing else but expanding the list with just a few more bits and pieces… The first, most important on the list, was a camping toilet, so the kids could use it during the night, if they needed so. What I did not say was that it was me, really, who I didn’t plan to use the public facilities as I am really squeamish. It took a while to find one to purchase locally, and when I finally did it, I realised (placing it into the tiny Punto) it would never fit. Luckily, we had previously realised that Punto’s trunk was far too small, so we ordered a roof boot and I thought it would have been fine.

But, hey… there were other “secret” things there… a camping fridge – small, efficient, for milk and stuff. I said: “It can fit between my feet, on the floor, there is plenty of space,” but there wasn’t. I went so far as to order a special camping cooking set, a shelf, a shower and few other things that I just could not find locally and I thought that I could not live without. Another thing I simply would not have thought of giving up was a boat. My little nephew, Dario, “acquired” it during his last holiday with his late father, my brother, whom we lost in February. So, with these items, only, the car was already too full and tent, chairs and other
(real) necessities, were just a fantasy.

The night before our departure, we went down to pack and Alen kept saying: “Lose some stuff! This is too much!” He went so far as to quote Jeremy Clarkson of the Top Gear, saying: “Ambitious, but rubbish!” The final drop was when he said: “OK, which one of the three of us are you taking, because we can not all fit!” So I lost stuff.

The first to go was the first on the list – the toilet. I fought for the chairs with inhumane powers of negotiations and even went so far to ask my daughter, Ivana, to give up on her books (of course, the famous “Twilight Saga” four-set) and to suffer with a half of her designated space given to the fridge.

At about midnight, we were set to go to bed and get some rest before the first day of our adventure. Dario was already in bed, Ivana was a bit grumpy, and Alen would not even talk to me, for Thule (our overpaid roof boot) was just about to pop open under pressure from within.

I was happy. I cared a bit about their feelings, but I had so many things up my sleeves that I knew they would forgive and forget, once they see all what I had in store for their days and nights. I did not go to sleep for a very long time. I felt some kind of tremor and was far too excited to sleep. The morning was almost there and the sky lost its darkness when I finally drifted off.

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