January 4, 2021 – I was travelling to Ohrid, North Macedonia from Tirana, Albania.
I hired a private tour guide, Mimi, to drive me to North Macedonia. We set out from Tirana about 7:15 am with a plan to make a stop at Pogradec before crossing the border to North Macedonia.
2 hours into the journey, near a town called Pishkash, we had a terrible accident. Mimi lost control of the vehicle and it somersaulted and landed sideways. Everything happened so fast, nonetheless, I was present in each moment. It was a nightmare and one I pray you never experience in your lifetime.
When it suddenly became calm, I heard Mimi’s voice “Are you okay?” And then, I realized that I was still alive. He was down to my left while I was up still strapped to my seat.
I felt my hands and my legs to ensure that I was fine, released my seat belt, and tried to get out of the vehicle. I suddenly had visions of vehicles going up in flames after an accident and I panicked. I heard Mimi say, “Calm down” but my priority was to get out as soon as I could. And so I got up and tried to push my side of the door open – gravity pushing against me. Recall that the vehicle landed sideways and I was at the upper part. I deployed all the energy I had and then suddenly I got help from the outside. It was such a relief.
Others had parked their vehicles and came out to rescue us. We were pulled out of the vehicle. Mimi sustained some bruises on his hands while trying to get out of the vehicle.
In less than 10 minutes, the police and ambulance arrived and conducted the necessary checks. I got checked and was told I was just tensed and needed to calm down. Mimi got a tow truck to convey the vehicle to the city while my host, Albi drove all the way from Tirana to get me.
I have enjoyed the best hospitality services while travelling in Albania. Like, it is not even normal that people can be this warm, nice, and free of any bias. Albanians are good people.
Now, what are the lessons I learned from the accident, and what could I have done differently?
1. First, exercise caution when traveling by road during the winter, particularly in regions with such narrow roads. Now, I am tempted to say that I have travelled extensively on such roads but had no problems, however, I could have reduced my risk if I had travelled the next day which had a better weather forecast.
2. Always check the daily weather forecast. I did check and noticed the next day (5th January) had a lesser chance of rain. But I chose to travel on a rainy day for whatever reason I did.
3. Travel Insurance – It is just as important as the trip itself. I had purchased one-year medical and travel insurance before my trip. It’s not something I usually do except it is required by the destination I am visiting. I didn’t take any chances this time and I am glad that I did.
4. Roam your mobile number. Most times, when I travel, I rely on public WiFi for WhatsApp calls and internet connections. Therefore, when I am not within a coverage area, I become incommunicado and I hate that. I have the habit of roaming my mobile number when travelling abroad- that way, I can identify calls and take the ones I consider urgent and important. Also, if something happened I could reach anyone.
My first call a few minutes after the accident happened was to my best friend back at home. I spent 150 naira per minute (less than 50 cents) to make this call. Now you see how insignificant that is, particularly in such emergencies.
Calling my mum wasn’t an option at the time. I’d probably killed her if I did. I was travelling by myself, and no mother wants to hear that their child is in any kind of danger far away from home.
Returning home, it was easy to break the news to my mum. I eased her into the story, and in no time we were making jokes about how I was rescued from the vehicle without my ‘bone straight hair wig’ and how I ran back to the vehicle to plead that they should find my hair for me. We laughed so hard.
5. Lastly, would be gratitude. Like, it could have been worse, but here I am telling my story. I have learned to live a life of gratitude, always. I am even inspired to live my best life while trusting all things will always work for my good.
There you have it, My story while travelling in Albania. Have you had such an experience while travelling in Albania or any other destination? I’d like to hear from you.
To watch the full video I recorded on the day it happened, click on the link below.