Myself and the two Canadian girls set off from our Warm Showers camp waving goodbye to our host, who again is standing in his underwear taking farewell photos. His dogs are running along side us jumping across our front wheels on the long downhill. The faster we pedal the more chance we have of losing the dogs. But the dogs are suicidal and our brakes are screeching and bikes are swerving to avoid them. Finally the dogs give up and normality touches us for the first time this morning. But, this is bicycle touring and normality never lasts very long.
Montenegro! We are super excited to reach the border. The guards glance at our passports and hand them back without stamping.
“Oh please stamp our passports”, we beg in unison with the same tone you would beg for your life.
They do as we request and handing us back our now stamped passports, our happy faces drop as they inform us,
“You do know we are the Croatian border control and not Montenegro?”
We hide our embarrassment.
Sure enough, fifty metres along the road we see the next border control. The border control of Montenegro. I am first there and stop outside the office to wait on the others and plait my hair. The guards step outside the hut to process me and one holds out a hand for my passport. I look at his hand and continue plaiting my hair. They are all staring at me as I tell them I’ll just be a minute. One of the guards takes the plait from my hands and finishes plaiting it! He even motions for a bobble when he’s finished! He speaks no English and I’m trying to explain that I don’t have any bobbles and that’s why I’m plaiting my hair because I’m Scottish and it was just too hot and I was dying from the heat!
We are all ‘Montenegro-guards-plait-hair-buzzing’ as we pedal away from border control. We stop after only 20 metres. There is a man at the side of the road beating a tree with a big stick! And we want to do that too! We run up and down looking for fruit trees to beat. The border guards are all out watching us. I wonder what they are thinking.
Montenegro is absolutely stunning. Sea hugging mountains separated only by a coastal road. We stop at a small cafe on the road side and before we part with our money for three Americano coffees we question the waitress. Do you have wireless? Do you have sockets? Yes, how many sockets do you have? How many can we use? The poor women speaks not a word of English. The other customers have joined in and the whole café is trying to understand our charades of:
‘We need to charge everything we have! EVERYTHING!’.
We but the three coffess and plugged in our mobiles, laptops, iPads and solar chargers into all available sockets. We had our shit behind the bar. Behind the freezers. Along the walls. The customers were no longer watching the world go by. They were watching us and operation ‘CHARGE AS MUCH AS WE CAN WE’RE BUYING COFFEES!!!!!’ Then Pablo and Ilze, who we had left in Croatia, were cycling past and caught sight of our bikes. Excited greetings followed. The kind when you forget there is anyone else around. So Pablo and Ilze joined our group and plugged their shit in too! The woman looked anything but happy. After we all cleaned our teeth in the café toilet, we departed and cycled onwards to a beach for swimming and food. The others swam first then ate. I are first. Then had to wait until I felt I wasn’t going to throw up sink and die or even worse, have to be rescued. It was bliss.
We only managed another few miles of cycling before the five of us were looking for somewhere to ‘discreetly’ wild camp with our three tents. Ridiculous in itself. But we had luck and found the most perfect place by the water, surrounded by mountains and trees.
The others pitched their tents tucked back into the bushes away from the water. But not me. I wanted nothing but water and mountains in front of me. I pitched my tent on the waters edge and I was in everyone’s thoughts that night. The wind picked up dramatically and turned the once calm water to verocious sounding waves. At 1am I promised myself I would buy ear plugs the next day. The water sounded like it was getting closer and I did do a few hand sweeps of my tent floor to make sure I wasn’t flooded. In the morning I realised how close it had been. The tide had brought the waters edge within inches of my tent.
It was such a beautiful spot I decided it was to be a housekeeping day. I sat by the waters edge, using the coarse sand and my finger tips to clean my pots, cutlery and mug, rinsing them out in the salt water. I even washed a block of Edam cheese in the sea as it had got milked over by a leaking milk carton in my pannier. I washed my clothes and hung them up on surrounding tree branches. I put my bikini on and stood in the water exfoliating my skin with the sand and shaving my legs. Drying in the sun, I I moisturised and applied nail polish. The rest of my bike club had left. I was on my own. Everything was relaxed and peaceful and under beautification until I had to do a life saving mission when I saw my carton of milk floating by, which had been refrigerating at the waters edge.
It’s October. I’m Scottish. And I’m in a bikini. It might just be a rest day….
Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.