ONE-WEEK-STAY PROGRAM WITH 2PVA - An article by Morgane Collongues
The countryside, the mountain, in short, the most natural places in one of the countries crossed by the two adventurers of Two Steps Towards Others. If you are lucky, you will have the opportunity to cross a border and discover not one, but two different cultures, for example, those of Montenegro and Albania.
• Means of transportation:
Your feet will be the only way to move forward. It will therefore be necessary to bring good hiking shoes, thick socks and anti-blister dressings (or not, for purists). The only exception to this rule, sliding on the butt in snowy and slippery terrain.
Tent, abandoned sheepfold, homestay... Marie and Nil are at home on the road and they make you feel the same.
• The supervising team:
Very complementary, Marie and Nil will pamper you. Comfort and food are Miss Marie's favorite subjects. Nil, he is the Mac Giver of the hike, the lead climber and an unparalleled trumpetless trumpeter, in his spare time.
Careful, the goal being that you quickly gain autonomy. They will only show you once how to fold your mattress! Welcoming a guest is a lot of upstream organization for our two lovely hosts. Explore the trails maps, anticipate the weather, send the list of equipment, so many things to consider to concoct you an unforgettable stay.
1. 1kg For The Planet:
To do squats with 15 kilos on the back to pick up trash on the way, this will be your priesthood. Be careful, plastic bags and other abandoned shoes can hide in the trees. 2PVA does not stop there, they go to schools to draw the attention of children to the environment, discuss the management of garbage with the locals. Imagine walking in nature, not a human around, and there, on your way, you find THE abandoned plastic bottle that has nothing to do with the scenery. You pick it up, and now, you've made the difference, this place is no longer polluted. Unfortunately, it will happen that there is more than one waste on the way, but your bag of collection can contain and as Marie and Nil say it so well, it ihas to start somewhere.
Living with the bare minimum means knowing how to repair your equipment. Our powerful duo will show you how to bring a rain gaiter back to life, mend your bag or patch the tent. These two have some resources and are never short on ideas.
3. Fauna and flora observation:
Depending on the season and the country, you will observe the changes in nature. Spring, for example, will put thousands of colors on your way, bees foraging in blooming cherry trees, waterfalls, carpets of flowers under your feet, the last snows, herds of cattle just out of the stables. Vipers, frogs, turtles are not left out, wildlife will surprise you too.
4. Camp fire with animation
As soon as the opportunity arises, a campfire will be lit. You will be put to work to bring down the dead trees and pick up the branches. The ultimate friendly moment, Marie and Nil will bend over backwards to entertain you. Without spoiling you, puppet show and sparks are on the program.
1,000 meters of elevation gain every day, it could be your way. Start walking in the valley, the muscles will warm up and then the trail goes up again and again... You're putting on crampons, your feet are wet... of course, you're now in the snow. Not just any, pure snow, no one has walked. You finally see the pass to cross, but it will not offer to you so easily. There will be two/three bowls to pass before reaching it, which will allow you to practice the technique of sledding on the butt.
Beware, some people, lacking in delicacy, could well confuse this fun activity with a game of bowling and strike any individual on arrival. In short, descend to go up the white steps shaped by Nil, and finally, here it is, the pass, the place where the climb ends, Your Summit. For a moment, the mountain belongs to you, it's magic! You are alone at the top. At this moment, you will understand why your two acolytes do not get tired of this kind of scenery, even after more than 7000 km in the legs. You dominate everything and as you have drawn to your last strength to get there, endorphin spreads in your body for you double reward. These moments will be engraved in your memory for a long time, guaranteed by 2PVA.
6. Language lesson:
Put 3 days to learn the "hello" Serbo-Croatian, fully integrate the 4th day, when you go to Albania and the interjection becomes even more unpronounceable... it may be what awaits you . Do not panic, the people you meet will help you with great pleasure and during your long hours of walking, you can talk with your fellow travelers, see which pronounced "Përshëndetje" the best. Good and then as a last resort, if you really can not do it, there will always be the Nile technique, speak English with the Slavic accent, hoping to be understood...
With 2PVA, you will travel in remote countryside. Count on Marie to never miss an opportunity to get invited to a table and taste the local specialties: Pitas, dried meat, sheep cheese, homemade blueberry syrup, bread just out of the oven, lukums... Careful, there the shots of rakija, the local liqueur, are served with abandon. It is important to know how to hide your glass and repeat "NE!". For decency, the heroic Nil will sacrifice for the group and continue to drink, even at 9am.
8. The hellish day:
Do not get me wrong, this is not a "lazy" vacation for which you sign. We do not live out of love and fresh water with 2PVA. The charm of this program is to leave room for the unexpected (otherwise it's not funny) and unexpected there will be! You camp in nature but have not planned enough water to cook; the shoulder strap of Nil’s 25 kg pack cracks; you no longer have data on your phone and do not know which way to go; a storm breaks out in the mountains, putting an end to your day's walk on the heights... Getting out of your comfort zone, finding solutions, plans B or learning to do without its bearings, this is how this experience really goes. Do not panic, your two coaches will accompany you in these events.
9. Meeting with locals:
You will not leave people indifferent: warm, enthusiastic, shy, curious, all the attentions that the locals will bring you will be positive and real, because what you do is not common, because few people come to camp in the remote Albanian mountains. This will be an opportunity for you to learn and understand how life is in these places, how important it is to receive... and drink rakija!
Optional: local wedding
Potential candidates will hide on the road. When the mother catches you by the arm to look around the property, it’s in the bag!
What was the last time you had the opportunity to live at the rhythm of nature, by contenting yourself with the essential? No, it's not a quote from Pocahontas, that's what Marie and Nil have been living for over 15 months now. This is what they invite you to share with them in good humor and laughter. If you need to get away from everyday life, distance yourself and get back to simple things, healthy basics, this adventure is for you. GO FOR IT!