By the time we had food and went around town, it was already afternoon and me, the Czech girl and French boy discussed our options to get to the other side of Ohrid Lake – we wanted to go via boat, but were told there were no boats that would take us to Pogradec, Albania – something that was possible at some point in the recent past wasn’t anymore. So we had to figure out another way to reach Albania, and one of the guys that worked on the boats, suggested we hopped on a bus to St Naum, which is still on the Ohrid lake, but a few kilometres away from the Albanian border. We went to the bus stop, and we were soon approached by a taxi driver who offered to drive us to St. Naum, asking for 3 euros on top of what we knew the bus ticket would be in total for 3 of us, so we agreed.
So we just about squeezed 3 big backpacks and 4 people in the not so big taxi, and for about 30 minutes we got to see some wonderful views from the road. And just as with pretty much all Macedonians I have encountered to this point, the driver was delighted he could speak to me in Macedonian. So through the whole journey he didn’t stop asking me questions about our travels and finding himself at awe and surprised of how the young people he had in his car roamed and explored the world. It occurred to me that I know a Bulgarian song which may well be in the Macedonian folk music as well and I was curious if the driver knew it and how he’d respond to it if I sang it. And so singing what I grew up to know to be a Bulgarian folk song, about the beauty of a girl born in Macedonia, to a Macedonian taxi driver, was not on my list of things to do, but it was one of the most heart warming things I felt I’ve done that connected me with someone who I have so much in common with, yet worlds apart. He was so happy when he heard me sing it and asked me how come I know this song, and I said I just grew up with it, that it is in our folklore – I did not dare say I believe it was Bulgarian, just in case.
Our kind taxi driver dropped us right outside the gates of St Naum, saying warm goodbyes before approaching some other travellers offering them his services. We walked into Saint Naum, to find yet again the beautiful beach, and many little shops in wooden huts along the park. We thought it’ll be good to leave our bags somewhere and explore St Naum, so we asked a lady at one of the shops if she’d kindly keep them safe with her and she agreed – my Bulgarian helped us once again. So we took our cameras, left our bags, and went off to see the little town and the famous church. The park was nice and there were some restaurants that looked really well, I wish we stayed to get a bite, but we didn’t, instead we walked to the church. The church has a beautiful yard, peacocks roaming around and it is definitely on a prime spot on the hill, with beautiful views of the lake.
After an hour or two roaming around the little town, we decided to find a place to camp and to continue our way to Albania early the next day. We walked on the path for the many little churches tucked away from town until we found a nice sweet place to set camp for the night. There was clean, drinking cold water from a spring right next to us, and a little beautiful lake. We cooked vegetables and made some instant soup, had long interesting chats once again and slept under the open sky once again.
Since I’ve spent 3 days sleeping outdoors and sweating as normal at 30 and more degrees Celsius I had to wash… Swimming in Ohrid lake was nice etc, but I wouldn’t use soap in it – that’s basically polluting the water. So I got up early the next morning, maybe around 6.30am and while my travel companions still slept I managed to somewhat painlessly wash my body with the fresh cold water from the lake and a little soap, at a safe distance from the water source. Later on when my travel buddies also got up, me and the French boy helped each other to wash our hair – using the pots and pans to pour the cold water over our freezing brains haha…but despite the primitive ways, all was good and I felt clean and fresh. I didn’t mind the inconvenience of not having running water, I just wish it wasn’t as cold as it was. But this could have been different, should I have planned my bathing better.
After we packed we walked back in town, only to find out that we were really close to a path that would have taken up onto the main road from where we were supposed to walk to the border with Albania. After returning to the path and luckily finding the path up to the road we walked about a kilometre to the Macedonian border. Imagine my surprise when the boarders control guy at Macedonia switched to fluent Bulgarian as soon as he saw my passport and asked me which part of Sofia I live in. He turned out to be Bulgarian and asked me questions about our trip and gave us some advice how to continue our trip. This was yet another time while travelling that I felt like I’m swimming in familiar waters and being bilingual served me so well! And there we go, crossed the Macedonian border and walked to the Albanian.