A camping trip was planned for the weekend after our swearing in. Apparently, this is an annual trip and happens after every group swears in. Dhermi is a small beach town that is only about 30-45 min north of Himarë. In order to get there we all took a bus from Elbasan to Vlore and then hitch-hiked along the coastal road to Dhermi. I was traveling with a large group of volunteers so we made the decision to break up into pairs and spread ourselves out along the highway. It didn't take long for me and Kyle to get picked up. The man that gave us a ride was very nice and wanted to know all about us, what we were doing in Albania, and what the United States was like. Luckily, our "driver" was headed to Dhermi so he was able to give us a ride directly to where we wanted to go.
When driving south along the coast road from Vlorë, you must climb a mountain and then go down the other side in order to get to the small villages along the coast. To get to or from Himarë it takes about 3 hrs from Vlorë. It took us, Kyle, myself, and our driver, only about 30 min to get to Dhermi. Needless to say, he drove like the wind. Once over the mountain pass, the road becomes very steep and turns into switchback after switchback. This part of the ride, whether you are in a car or a bus, is not the most comfortable part of the ride. Although at this point in the ride some may get sick, it is also the most beautiful part of the drive from Vlorë to Himarë. Because you are up so high, the view is absolutely fantastic! The water is so blue and the beaches are completely white.
Upon coasting down the winedy road, our driver wanted to stop and have us take pictures of all the beautiful sites and at all the look out points. He was proud to show off his beautiful country. Hitch-hiking proved to be a great way to travel along the coast road because it takes much less time to go over the mountain pass and we were able to practice our Shqip with our driver. (mom and dad-don't worry, I would never hitch by myself and I have not made a habit out of this kind of travel)
After Kyle and I said our goodbyes to our delightful driver, we set out to find camp. We, along with the rest of our group, camped on a small beach (almost cove-like) on the outskirts of Dhermi. The beach was made of smooth white stones and the water was so clear that you could see to the bottom, even when out swimming in it. The group that came down to Dhermi was a lot of fun! We were able to have a fire on the beach and while sitting around the fire we, the newly sworn-in Peace Corps Volunteers, were able to get to know the other volunteers that have been in Albania for one-two years. It was great to get to know some of the other volunteers as well as spend time with our group in a relaxed and fun environment.