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Logbook to the middle ages. XVI

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But what about this thing that I do? This thing that I and my friends do.
I start talking with one of the old guys (older than me, that is, as I am already a senior in these matters) and we talk about how we are disappearing. We are some sort of traveling ensemble and go to faraway places and in a very concise way we set up entire companies of 150 people that range from unskilled labor to the very specialized physics needed to get the data. In just a couple of weeks we do that, and then we move just a few hundred kilometers away and we do it all over again, from scratch.
Albania is actually easy as we are still in Europe. The logistics are difficult but not impossible, supplies can be brought here in days, not weeks, and the new tools of communications are easily accessible and already here.
Berat is not a modern wonder but I have been in places where our standards were far lower. Termez in Uzbekistan, just a few kilometers from the border with Afghanistan, offered an even steeper challenge. With unreliable comms, a cultural difference much more pronounced and no logistics to talk about, how did we pull that one out?
And this friend tells me that we are on the road to extinction. A Parisian, he shares with me the pleasure of knowing the small town, the remote corner of the world where nobody else goes to. I will simply add Berat to a collection of remote locations that I have been to: Ras-Al-bar (Egypt), Palmyra (Syria), La Encrucijada (Bolivia), Termez above and Osh (Kirgizstan) are a few. When I was a kid, places like the Congo or Borneo were mentioned when one talked about the end of the world, but I have been there. I have been to Sarawak and to the deep Patagonia and there are some silly things that I have done that give me a tingle of exclusiveness. Last year, coming back from Africa, I rode a boat, a helicopter, a car, a plane and a train in less than 24 hours. Had I been focused I would have made the point of riding a motorcycle, perhaps completing a set of locomotion means few have done.
And I grew up listening to The Police and one of their songs that I liked is called Tea in the Sahara. And I once was there, in THE Sahara, under a full moon in the desert and my Tuareg friends, at midnight, set up the camp fire and put the kettle to boil and we had tea in the Sahara, the moon so bright you could almost read a book by it.
And this way of living is going away. There is not a single one of us in the crew that is under 35. There are 4 grandfathers just within our side of the team, three of them will retire after this shift, and there is no one to replace them. We offer no glamour, we stay away from home too long, and by now it makes no sense for a young European to live this life, to go through all the things that you have to leave behind and a few extra sacrifices when there is not even an incredible extra monetary incentive.
Unless you want to reach Berat or Gjirokaster and walk olive groves and apricot orchards under a scorching sun in the middle of the summer. And your sole reward will be to say, to some of your colleague friends, “yes, I have been to Berat. And I loved it”.

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  1. suliso's Avatar
    What are you actually prospecting for? Is it gas or oil? I hadn't previously heard of either in Albania...
  2. ponchi101's Avatar
    Albania is the 10th largest oil producer in Europe. They have a bit.
    Plus, they are in a great neighborhood for that. Zero of anything anywhere near.
  3. GlennHarman's Avatar
    Thanks for this blog also.....And Suliso's question was very helpful. GH