Cycling from Mojkovac to Berane

Leaving Mojkovac was surprisingly hard. It hasn’t got much that you could consider a proper draw to it’s higgle piggle centre, but there’s something really endearing about it, the weird old soviet buildings, the friendly people or maybe even the chaotic driving. I’ve got a wee touch of a cold too, which made me reluctant to go anywhere. But we had to go, another night in a motel just wouldn’t do the budget any good. The getting going took a while too, blogging duties took longer than we hoped due to an internet connection reminiscent of the days of Napster way back when…. The only way to start a reluctant day is with burek, so we did. We were joined for our midday breakfast by a guy from Germany who had been touring around Montenegro and Croatia on his motorbike. Foreigners stand out like sore thumbs here and so we ended up chatting to him over pastries before heading off.

The road out of town pointed upwards and it felt a million miles long with a stuffy head and stiff limbs (you mightn’t have guessed by now, but I’m not a great patient). Sam egged me on and we sweated and pedalled and sweated some more. The hill wasn’t long and really not particularly steep compared to what we’ve been tackling recently but it felt like my own personal sniffly Everest. Reaching the top felt amazing, and it was all downhill fom there!
As we wound down the miles uite uickly after our initial ascent, it became clear that I had given the lurgy to Sam. Living the waythat we do, most of the day side by side, he had lie chance of escaping my contagion. Stopping for a cold drink, a lady popped quite suddenly out of the cafe next door and asked us if we wanted a room for the night, not bad value at 20 euro, but my eye has been keenly keeping an eye on what we spend so we opted out. As we cycled on, I began to regret the decision….. a warm bed, internet connection, hot shower….. all the things that would make me feel better. Oh well, we could always check at the next place. Except there was no next place, we continued on and although we passed small hamlets and villages, there as nowhere that offered shelter for the night.
Travelling through rural Montenegro, it became clear it is now potato picking season. Families and fiends gather in fields, edging their way through and filling their baskets. Everyone helps, little kids keep themselves amused playing at the edge of the field and everyone old enough gives a hand. As we passed one of these fields, we spotted a potential camping spot by he river. It was behind what appeared to be a large storage building. As there were quite a few people around, we thought it best to check with someone before setting up camp. I returned to a field a small way back where we had seen some people working hard. Approaching a lady who was bent over her day’s labour, she pointed me towards a woman about my own age with a smile. She spoke english, although she assured me, not very well. On asking her if it was ok to camp, she replied in perfect English telling me that they did not own the land, but it shouldn’t be a problem although there was sometimes a wld dog around the area. Thankfully, our experience of wild dogs has been good, they generally just want to be friends wih Sam. So we thought we’d check out the litle spot by the river. Quite franky, it wasn’t up to much. There’s no tourism in this part of Montenegro and so very “European” notions like putting your rubbish in the bin haven’t quite made it here yet. The river at this section seemed to serve as the village dumping ground so we decided that we might be better served finding somewhere a bit less shit.
Continuing on, we spotted what appeared to be a fishing ground close to the river that was prety well kept. Closer inspection found it very quiet, so we tucked ourselves in a nice spot and pitched our tent as the sun went down. Just as we had finished popping some popcorn, a guy shouldering a scythe came bounding down a bank towards us with his herd of goats. Just as suddeny as he appeared, he began striding towards us. With a massive grin across his face, he asked us if we would be warm enough. And so a cross linguistic, sign language conversation took place. He told us it was his field and we were welcome to stay, once again enquiring if we would be cold. He shared some popcorn with us and asked us where we were from, responding with glee and surprise when we told him. He then pointed towards his corn field and told us to help ourselves and then disappeared as suddenly as he had arrived after a brief handshake, turning tail and leading his goats to wherever it is goats sleep. Such a joyful encounter can only leave you in a good mood and so we setled down to our dinner complete wih fresh, off the stalk corn. It was the best, most succulent corn I’ve ever tasted. I know you’re sitting there thinking corn isn’t any great shakes. But believe me, this stuff was the right job. We’ve not gotten paricularly far today, but we me the cheeriest goat herder/corn grower in all of Montenego. He was class, what a cool dude!!

Don't worry love, I'll be close when I'm gone...
Don’t worry love, I’ll be close when I’m gone…
Nice little camping spot at the end of the day.
Nice little camping spot at the end of the day.

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