The Vistula River runs through Warsaw, Poland.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Warsaw, Poland.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure yet.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Not every day you come across a pile of human bones!

Well, the title might give the impression that we had interesting day. And that assumption would indeed be correct!

Starting yesterday, we're in for some cloud and drizzle lasting until Saturday night. And then the long term forecast for all of next week is supposed to be beautiful. So that's something to look forward to.

In the meantime, we don't let a little bit of rain stop us from getting outside. So we set off to explore the local area by foot, without any kind of a plan.

We walked down to a level area on top of a hill, just to get a view of the next village of Mingul. 

Ruth, and the view.

Looking the opposite way.

Making our way across some rocks.

But there was no actual footpath. Just some rough trails made by the sheep and goats, some of which just come to a dead end. But also, the sheep and goats are a little more agile than we are! We were trying to make our way down into a valley where we heard a stream running, but with no actual footpath to follow, it became a bit of a mystery tour with quite a few obstacles.

I took a video for you. Turn up your volume...


And because you're reading this, you can rest assured we did make it back alive!

We did make it down to the stream, and then decided to follow the stream back up to the village of Mingul. 

This area has a lot of history, and has been inhabited since the 4th or 5th century. So we weren't surprised when we came across a few ruins structures. 

The ruins of something.

The stream runs through this gulley, so we had to make a detour.

A big wall of some kind.

Scenery along the way.

Heading uphill.

Another very old structure.
The stream has found its way over the structure itself. 
Or, maybe it was some kind of dam at one time.

Pretty wildflowers.

Me!

Eventually, we did make our way back up to the village. I didn't have the GPS tracker on for this hike. I just forgot. But we probably hadn't covered very much ground. Maybe 3 or 4 kms . But it was pretty slow going at times and it took us about two hours!

Just as we were entering the village, we came across this donkey... 

Donkeys are so cute!

It was a friendly donkey!

The village of Mingul is very old. I wouldn't be surprised if there have been people living here for 1,500 years. There are only about 20 or 25 homes... maybe less, because some of them are ruins that are obviously not being lived in anymore. 

So we're making our way through this ancient village, and poking around corners, and through broken down entranceways. I actually was about to start taking some photos of the village when we got sidetracked.

A woman comes by, and starts speaking Albanian to us. We put our expert Albanian language skills to use by saying "Hello" and "Good afternoon", but of course we cant get much further than that! Well, she starts rattling off in Albanian and we of course don't understand a word. I think we got across to her that we speak English, and are from Canada.

Next thing you know, she's ushering us into her little cottage. She's still going on in Albanian, acting as if we can understand her. We tried to say no, but she insisted. And we've learned that some of our best travel experiences have been when we've accepted local invitations, so eventually we agreed. 

She sits us down, and brings out a bag of walnuts and some other kind of nuts. Shows Ruth how to break the shells open in the unused fireplace using a rock, and gets us each a plate of whatever that sweet stuff is they make here from boiling fruit.

I took a stealth photo of the inside of her cottage...

Ruth is leaning over the fireplace breaking open walnuts!

You can see that the television is on, but shortly after this, the power went out. We will talk more about this tomorrow.

I said the other day that it's amazing how much you can communicate when neither party can understand the other language. Her name is Eleni. We got her to spell it for us. We learned that she is also 59 years old, the same age as us, and of course that got us talking about children and grandchildren. I did end up using google translate a few times, but not much.

So then she brings out this folder of envelopes, and they are from a law office in New Jersey. I wasn't quite sure what she wanted me to do with them, or why she brought them out. But of course they were all in English, so I read a couple of the letters and they were detailing an estate settlement from 2012, in which she received a check for $5,900. We also learned that she has been to both Boston and New Jersey, so obviously has relatives of some kind there.

An interesting old bottle.

This bottle has a twist valve at the bottom!

Old water bottles.

She saw my interest in that old booze bottle, and I guess that prompted her to bring out these two old water canteens. She's still going on in Albanian. It was hilarious. Ruth and I would look at each other and shrug our shoulders, and laugh. We did get that the one on the left was military, and the one on the right is used by a shepherd.

Next, she wanted to show us the old church in town. This was fantastic, because we may not have made it inside the church otherwise. 

The old church in Mingul.

The gate was being held shut with a piece of twine.

She showed us a grave of her husband, who died in 2014. From what we understood, it was from a car accident.

She also showed us the grave of some guy who was born in 1900 and died in 1991. She said he was from Boston. I'm sure she told us the whole story in Albanian, but of course we didn't understand 99% of it!


The door to the church was closed and locked, but Ruth thinks she remembers seeing the key already in the door. So who knows, we probably would have been bold enough to go in on our own if we had found it that way.

Since the power was out, the interior of the church was quite dark. It was kind of spooky actually. I took a few photos using flash, and I turned on the flashlight on my phone.


She wrote a figure in the dust... "600". We have no idea if that means the church is 600 years old, or if it was built in the year 600.

We're guessing that the church is 600 years old.

Looking up.

Looking up.

So we're poking around. The church has obviously not been used as a church for a long time. There's a lot of "stuff" just lying around. So we're in the little vestibule in the back, and she points us over to one corner.

Not every day you come across a pile of human bones!

Eleni went on explaining about the bones, or at least we think that's what she was doing. Didn't understand a word.

The last time we saw human bones in a church was the Sedlec Bone Church in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.

And then we said goodbye. Really nice woman, and we're glad we allowed her to push us into her cottage, but it was all a bit of an odd interaction given the language issues!


The church itself is ancient, but most of the graves appeared to be within the last 100 years or so.

This is the village of Nokovë.

Our villa where we are staying is considered to be part of the village of Nokovë, but we are actually located in between Nokovë and Mingul.

Our host lady set us up with everything we need including feeding the the two cats and she has left to visit Tirana for five days so we are now on our own.

How old is this olive tree??

Today is more of the same... overcast, but it hasn't rained yet. We will get out again after lunch.

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A bit of a price drop on the popular Instant Pot Omni Plus Toaster Oven Air Fryer.


And in Canada...



14 comments:

  1. Sometimes you have the best visits when meeting strangers. Seems the Albanian People are very sociable and hospitable. Your photos of the Human Bones is a first for me though I do know that most Alters in certain faiths do contain a piece of bone from a Saint.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the nicer weather.

    It's about time.

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    1. We agree and we have had some fantastic experiences when we have met with the locals and some of those people that we have met have ended up being good friends of ours and even to this day we stay in contact with them. The Albania people are very friendly and welcoming.

      Many if not most old churches in Europe have graves within the church normally in grave sites under the flooring, marked with a stone or in stone coffins along a wall and we think these bones had been in either one of these but that the stones broke or some kind of damage happened and the bones were just put off into the corner. Not sure that was the case but it is just what we think may have happened.

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  2. Replies
    1. A very interesting day and the kind of day that we enjoy when we go out exploring a new area. You just never know what is going to happen! :-)

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  3. What a fascinating day in a beautiful place.

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    1. It certainly was! We hope we will end up having more days like that as we continue exploring here in Albania. :-)

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  4. It's great when you encounter locals like that even though the language barrier is frustrating.

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    1. Definitely! The language barrier just makes the meeting more interesting but it sure would have been nice if we could have been able to converse with her and found out more of the history of the church and the area.

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  5. Kept expecting a picture of the "old lady"!!
    Church amazing!!! U guys see the mist interesting things!

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    Replies
    1. I never said she was an "old lady". She's our age... lol. Of course to some, that is old...

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  6. That was a cool day trip! The church visit is worth gold. What a great place.

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    1. It sure was! We love adventures like that. It is amazing how friendly people can be to strangers.

      We thought the same about the church! I don't think that we would have ventured into the church on our own but then again if the church wasn't properly locked, we just might have. If this first day out and about in the area is any indication of our time here, then I know we are really going to love it. :-)

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  7. Did you visit all of Mingul?

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    1. We would like to think we did, it's not very big! Maybe you something about the little village that we missed. :-)

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