The name of this town is pronounced "Pecheen" in Albanian. I've learned that the accent typically goes on the last syllable, and I've started to decipher the consonants.
c = ts
ç = ch
dh = th (like this and that, not like thick or thin)
j = y (as in you, never as in sky)
q = ch (only it's a harder sound than ç)
x = j...
There are a few other cases, but that's enough. When I see the word "pice" on a sign, I know it says "pizza."
When I woke up this morning, I was in pain. Yesterday afternoon I had only just noticed the lack of handrails on the rain-covered marble staircase when down I went. Those three or four steps on my tailbone hurt! By the time I went to bed last night, it felt like there was some swelling in the area, although it's kinda hard to tell. It was certainly tender. I stretched as best I could, and got an early night.
Over coffee this morning, I was reminded again about the party at the reception hall this evening, but I decided to head on out rather than spend all day sitting. The hotel in Shtodhër is a few hundred metres from a highway service centre, and there are farmhouses edging the highway, but that's about it. I thought it would be better for my aching butt to walk than to sit. It's awkward and a little painful to bend at the hips, which makes sitting down or reaching for something on the floor a rather deliberate manoeuvre, but walking with my pack was pain free.
It was chilly as I began walking, but once the sun cleared the bank of clouds on the horizon it warmed up nicely. I knew that up north and in the mountains, the heavy rains of yesterday had come down as snow. As I've said before, given a choice of walking through snow at -5 Celsius or rain at +5, I'll take the snow every time. Naturally, the only way I can realistically make that "choice" is by selecting my route.
Ever since I arrived in Durrës, I've had people telling me that it's "very cold" in the mountains in the direction I'll be heading, but nobody has been able to quantify that. This morning at my first coffee break, I saw a weather forecast, and now I finally have some numbers. By the end of the week, the country will be mountainous enough for the highs to be around -5, while the overnight lows will be in the (negative) low teens.
That suits me just fine! I didn't do nearly enough walking at home to train for this pilgrimage, but I did get out on some of the bitterly cold days we had last winter to check my layering. As long as I have shelter by sundown, there won't be any problems, and since I no longer face the deadline of a visa restriction, I can afford to take it easy.
I could reach Elbasan tomorrow, although I may break the 39 kms up near the halfway mark. My guidebook, published just this spring, indicates that there's a family in Broshkë which is happy to have overnight guests on their farm. I missed the local weather forecast, so I don't know what I'll be walking through come morning. Either way, it's time for me to pop online and post this, and then get to sleep. (No WiFi here, and data costs!)