Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

It was one hundred years ago this year that Edith Durham made the Albanian journeys that were to feature in her book "High Albania". We look at Edith Durham's adventures in the Albania-Montenegro border region.

article summary —

Early one morning in the summer of 1908, a small party left the village of Thethi in northern Albania. And, having floundered through the waist-deep snow which still choked the Qafa e Peje or Cafa Pes, the travellers descended into the Ropojana valley, in what is now Montenegro.

The party consisted of Edith Durham, that redoubtable Balkan traveller and champion of Albanian affairs, together with her loyal guide and friend Marko Shantoja, the local Franciscan padre and his servant, and a headman from the village of Okolo (Okol). Their destination was Vuthaj (nowadays Vusanje), a small, predominantly Muslim village in the Ropojana valley which, along with the rest of the Plav-Gusinje area, was then still part of Albania.

Having passed a lake, "very blue and deep but made, I was assured, entirely of snow-water", they continued along the valley, to arrive at Vusanje, where Durham noted the small mosque with a wooden minaret.

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Rudolf Abraham is an award-winning travel writer and photographer specialising in Croatia and Eastern Europe. He is the author of several books including Walking in Croatia, The Mountains of Montenegro, Torres del Paine and St Oswald's Way, all published by Cicerone, National Geographic Traveller Croatia, and is co-author of Istria - The Bradt Travel Guide. He has also updated the Bradt guides to Croatia and Transylvania, and his work has been published widely in magazines and online.

In 2012 his article on the 16th-century pirates of the Croatian Adriatic, the Uskoks, published in hidden europe 34, secured an award for best travel feature from the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild, of which Rudolf is a member. He is also a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. Current projects include Croatian Miscellany, an ongoing and deeply personal portrait of this southeast European country, as well as new guidebooks to Croatia's islands, Arctic Norway, the Faroes and the mountains of eastern Turkey.

He lives in London. Find out more about Rudolf's work on www.rudolfabraham.co.uk or visit his blog at rudolfabraham.wordpress.com.

This article was published in hidden europe 22.