Sunday 20 September 2015

19th September Hoshteve to Sheper

Saturday 19th September Hoshteve to Sheper 12.5 km

Woke up nice and early, about 6:15 and had another delicious breakfast, packed our lunches and said our goodbyes. Photo of Cimi, Katherina and Patrick. Katherina  has a lovely garden.
Me, Katherina and Cimi.

We headed off about 8 am. After walking through the village and past the locals moving their flocks, we walked along the gravel road for the first hour.

Leaving the village of Hoshteve. Easy walking today.
A spring to refill our water bottles 
We stopped at 9:15 for a break near another lovely spring, there is a leaf perfectly placed to make the water flow over the carved stone bowl.
A perfect spot for contemplation...
A derelict communist era building in Nivan
There seem to be quite a few buildings and constructions that aren't used any more.. When we ask what they're for, or why they're not used there's usually an expressive shrug and the answer of "communist time" ...

We walk through the villages of Vathuq, Koncka, Nivan 
At Nivan, there is a the local Komune, military buildings and church. 
Military bunker below 

There's a memorial to partisans who were killed during the Second World War, it sounds as though they were executed in reprisals. 

There's a memorial to a British mountaineer, William Tillman, who helped the partisans and the resistance fight against the Germans who occupied Albania during WW2

The church in Nivan is in a poor state, the roof is collapsing, I'm glad we saw it now, not sure how much longer it will remain even partially intact with the roof collapsing. 
It looks as though there were originally frescos, but they're not really visible now.

Lovely carvings in the stone on the doorway, alpha & zeta ( I think) on the top, the sun symbolised.

We continue down hill and look at an old Monastery,

 it was quite large prior to communism, some sections of frescos still visible inside the church, the last of the monastery buildings still standing.
 all these old churches and religious buildings were not able to be used during the communist era, so fell into disrepair, and some churches and mosques were actively destroyed as during the "no religion" time. 

Fortunately the church in Hoshteve was classed as a "National Monument" even in the Communist era, so was saved from destruction.

Now we've seen the state of these churches further along the Zagoria valley, it seems miraculous that the church at Hosteve is in such good condition!
More wild fruits to taste!

We stop for lunch at 11:45 at another old Ali Pasha ottoman bridge over the Zagoria river, this one is so shady and picturesque, it isn't really used any more as there is a road not too far away.

I can picture the people walking and riding donkeys and horses over here the last couple of hundred years... Carrying produce from village to village.

Patrick is trying to listen to the football final in Australia, Sharks Vs Cowboys. The radio streaming isn't very successful though...

We walked back up the slight hill of a meadow towards Sheper. 
These trees are used to collect fodder for sheep and goats during winter - the fodder is the brown leaves stacked against the trunks and held in place with timber poles, out of reach from nibbling sheep until needed.

Stopped off in Sherper to chat with some locals harvesting walnuts, their hands go black with the walnut stain. They've harvested 30 kg so far this afternoon. Everyone is so generous and interested to chat, they also gave us a bunch of sweet white grapes straight from the vine, warm and sweet from the sunshine.
A friendly face amidst the walnuts and grape vines ! 

arrived at our guesthouse at 1:20.  Uje - water!  "Ooya" water! it's hot again today, over 30 deg. "Vape" 
The entrance of the house is absolutely covered in fabulous grapevines!

Vape = hot , only the sun, not coffee for example...

Tonight we stay in the guesthouse of an Aroman / Villach nomadic shepherd family . There are four generations living in the house!
Great grandmother, 80 years old, mother- Dhespina,  daughter in law Evjenia nita, husband (son and current shepherd- Stavri's) and the youngest, 4 year old son -great grandson. A couple of the men in the family work in Greece in the construction industry, Stavris has taken on the role of shepherd looking after the family's 150 milking sheep.

After a shower and rest, Patrick kept on having a snooze, I walked with Cimi and Evjenia nita,  daughter in Law .. Down to their vegetable garden and their sheep yards.
The irrigation canal to the right of Cimi and Evjenia nita is another example of communist time construction. It's not used any more, not sure if it was never really functional or locals just chose not to continue to use it...

A couple of cute lambs in the shed.
Cimi's favourite 😊

Can see and hear the bells of the flock of sheep heading home in the distance.

The family has 150 sheep, 2 of them milk all the sheep each morning, it takes about 1 1/2 hours. Not much milk at the moment, usually lots of milk in April.
Evjenia nita in their vegetable garden.

When we walk back up to the house, I'm invited for a coffee and chat with the neighbours. I'm really trying to get my head around Po - yes with a gentle head shake (more of a head waggle) and Jo (yo) - no with a head nod! Often the heads are gently shaking, and it means yes! The iPad and photos of our walk are a great way to cross the language barrier! The elder neighbour was a shepherd and has been to the places we've walked during his shepherd years. I also created a "home" album with photos and maps from home to explain where we live, our family and Australia 
Dinner always seems to be eaten after the sun goes down, so around 7:45 pm.
2 Summer kitchens, love all the onions!
Green peppers
Outdoor fireplace kitchen, with potatoes and lamb cooking in the pot. Coals underneath and on top keep food cooking evenly.
Dinner is another feast of local produce! Green peppers, tomato salad, cheese, yoghurt, lamb, potatoes, bread.All the cheese and yoghurt is from sheep's milk. Not at all strong tasting, very nice. A bit of Raki too... 😉
After dinner we sit in the cool and chat, with the assistance of Cimi and google translate! I ask Evjenia nita how she met her husband and what village she came from. Such an interesting conversation!
Evjenia nita - came from a village near Saranda on the coast, the Village of Delvin.
Her and Stavri's marriage was arranged. Her family knew Stavri's  family, ( her husband, where we are staying with Stavri's grandmother, mother, his wife and 4 year old son. His brother is also home from working in Greece at the moment) the families introduced them to each other, and they liked each other and married 6 years ago. If they decided after they were introduced that they didn't like each other, there was no obligation to marry. We looked at some photos of the wedding, at the local Sheper church, and at Saranda! Beautiful photos. I think it would be very daunting to marry and move into a new family environment and home!
But the extended family all seem happy and appear to,get along well.

Good night, tomorrow is our last day walking in the Zagoria Valley... I'll be sad to end this adventure.

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