The beauty of a rainy summer in the Balkans

This summer has been uncharacteristically wet here. In both Bulgaria and Serbia, locals would expect to be sweating in the midday sun, not dripping from yet another unpredictable shower. Alas, it’s raining constantly. In Kosovo, a downpour on the first night almost caused a flood and another disrupted a open air workshop. Now, in Macedonia, all the rumours have been that a storm is coming any minute now!

Yet, being who we are, we decided to look on the bright side of things. So here are ten reasons why we are HAPPY it is so damn rainy!

1 Water sources are renewing

More water for plants, locals to produce stuff with (in Jelen there seemed to be a water shortage issue) and fuller lakes and faster flowing rivers for us to cool off and bathe in.

2 It was worth packing spare changes of clothes/ winter wear/ anoraks

Nothing worse than packing a pannier full of bulky clothes to not have no need to wear them at all. We got to wear all of them well within the first week and they haven’t had a chance to properly dry off since. Waterproofs are a must, waterproof panniers are most ideal, or lots of plastic bags.

3 The midday 35 degree heat would’ve killed us

Delayed starts to the day mean we are sometimes doing the most part of our cycling slap bang in the middle of the day. Add with some pretty steep and long hills. you would have some very exhausted Ecotopians at the start of the tour if it was as hot as a Balkan summer should be. Bring on the rainy showers! (please see endnote…!)

4 Free washes

Wild camping has its hygienic downsides. A week without showering and you really need to feel moisture on your skin. In this weather, instead of having layer upon layer of sun cream, dust and sand building up, you get a free shower. Hair wash included.

5 Time efficiency!

Rain forces you either to take temporary shelter, or, at other times, to keep pedalling to the comfort of the next sleeping place. There has been a balance of these so far! The refreshing sprint to the end is totally worth it (except, perhaps, if you wear spectacles, in this case, your perspective can get a little fuzzy!)

6  Taking shelter in the warmth of a welcoming new project

When the rain forces you into shelter, it also forces you to make yourself at home. The cosy winter house at Trinoga had a wood burner and was one of the warmest and most welcoming places to keep dry. Last night too, it got very cosy indeed squeezing into AKSC in Skopje with the threat of an oncoming storm!

7 The mist over the mountains looks so mysterious

Take a look at this water vapour!IMG_4518

And this rainbow in Serbia


8 More (potential) time for workshops and discussions

When it rains, unless it is torrential like the other day in Prizren, where we had to run into a restaurant, the potential is there to have more group activities! Because project work gets called off or sunbathing is not an option…so we could do workshops on some very interesting topics – people have suggested tons of varied things like bike fixing, electronics, internet privacy, polyamory. sustainability, sexism, collective action….now we just have to do some more!

9 You have more stories to tell

Like the story of the tent that blew away, the Electric Storm Adventures of four in a two man tent with fear of electrocution and an imaged bear-wolf by the lake near Temska, or, deciding in a panic where to put the bikes in relation to the tents in another electric storm in Aleksinac. [Whether bikes piled up in the middle of a tent circle would conduct all the electricity in the sky, or the bikes might get stolen if they are outside of the safety of the Biketour circle.]

10 It could be worse!

Call me a eternal optimist, but it could be really cold/really too hot. We could be all alone or not have each other to get through this wet spell!

Note: At time of publishing the tour is now in southern Macedonia, fast approaching Greece, and the sun is blazing hot (35 degrees)…!

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