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    July 17, 2012

    SCUBA Diving Albania: Alitepelena Island, Wall Reef

    July 13, 2012*

    What a night!

    There was a big wind storm that knocked out power in all of Himara, effecting Porto Palermo, too.

    Waking up, I also accidentally brushed my teeth with sun tan lotion – the sun lotion and toothpaste are in identical looking containers, and both written in German.

    We were to do three dives today, all deep; we were super paranoid about having extended surface intervals – there are no decompression chambers in Albania, and the hospitals don’t know how to treat the bends.

    We had two tanks that were filled from the super compressor that we brought from Tirana.

    We tested the air, and actually this batch was much better; it had no petroleum taste to it at all.

    The fills were a little light, however.

    Albanian Boat Diving

    We hired two kids with a paddle boat to drop us off at our spot; we were to swim back to shore.

    Logged SCUBA Dive #417

    Dove with Idit

    Alitepelena Island, Wall Reef
    Himara, Albania

    Air Source: Portable Super Compressor We Brought From Tirana
    In With: 2500 psi
    Out With: 200 psi
    Max depth: 97 feet
    Waves: Flat
    Visibility: Up to 50 feet
    Water Temperature: 75 degrees
    Air Temperature: 89 degrees
    Total Bottom Time: 40 minutes or so

    We jumped off the boat, thanked the kids, and descended.

    I looked at my computer.

    It wasn’t on, and wouldn’t turn on underwater; I surfaced to fix the issue.

    The wall reef gets deep, really quickly.

    porto palermo

    porto palermo

    porto palermo

    We found what was left of a Roman or Greek wine vessel, from an ancient ship wreck – all the whole ones have been looted.

    It was a nice, pleasurable and uneventful dive.

    A boat anchor made out of a rock.

    A boat anchor made out of a rock.

    We made it back to shore with barely any air and made an easy exit.

    The bar at the beach.

    We debriefed at the bar at the beach, before taking a short tour of the Ali Pasha Tepelena Castle…

    The castle was a gift to one of Ali Pasha’s wives, and I believe, dates back to the 19th century.

    Ali Pasha Tepelena Castle.

    Ali Pasha Tepelena Castle.

    Me on Ali Pasha Tepelena Castle.

    Our next dive site was on the other side of the bay.


    *Due to time constraints, lack of reliable internet access outside of Tirana, power outages in Tirana and the strength of Albanian beer, posting of this article has been delayed.

    SCUBA Diving Albania: Monastery Beach Reef, Saranda

    July 11, 2012*

    I think we were both really F’ing tired by this time.

    Idit is twenty years younger than I, but since I am super-macho, he didn’t worry about me.

    We got down to our last two tanks of air, which meant taking a whole day off to refill our tanks at the camp site where the small “super compressor” was located.

    We figured, six tanks at an hour and a half each, would be a nine to ten hour task; and they were doomed to be short fills.

    But, Albania is a small country.

    It seems like everybody knows everybody.

    Idit again pulled off the impossible!

    He located a compressor that is owned by a fisherman, next to a restaurant in Saranda.

    He offered to fill four of our tanks for free – at least, I believe it was free; Idit may have slipped him a few LEK for his troubles.

    This is another site that the Polish guys would dive from their boat:

    Monastery Beach Reef, Saranda

    We had a swim ahead for us.

    Entry was no problem; we surface swam to the left, until we saw something interesting to dive on.

    We descended.

    Logged SCUBA Dive #416

    Dove with Idit

    Monestary Beach Reef
    Saranda, Albania

    Air Source: Private compressor in Vlorë
    In With: 2900 psi
    Out With: 300 psi
    Max depth: 70 feet
    Waves: Flat
    Visibility: Up to 50 feet
    Water Temperature: 74 degrees
    Air Temperature: 98 degrees
    Total Bottom Time: 40 minutes or so

    The water felt so refreshing after touring Butrint in almost 100 degree weather.

    We got to 70 feet really quickly.

    Idit warned me of a fishing net – we swam over it.

    It was very transparent, I probably would have ran right into it, if it wasn’t for Idit.

    Monastery Beach Reef

    The reef was unlike any I had seen before – it was covered in some sort of cotton like growth.

    Monastery Beach Reef

    Monastery Beach Reef

    Monastery Beach Reef

    We turned around at a half tank and navigated to a perfect exit.

    We were both extremely tired.

    We dropped off four tanks at the fisherman’s compressor.

    “Can I take a picture of the compressor?” I asked.

    “No,” Idit said.

    He continued, “A compressor is a very expensive item here; the first thing that will be asked is ‘Why?’”

    Idit dropped me off at my Hotel room, where I walked across the street to use my emergency Albanian to buy beer – not sure if I spelled everything correctly, but this is how the conversation went…

    “A flisni Anglisht?” I asked the store owner.

    “Jo,” He said.

    “A keni birre?”

    “Po.”

    He took me to the beer.

    He started to ramble off a conversation in Albanian.

    “Mi falni, nuk kuptoj Shqip,” I said.

    “Ju Pollack?”

    “Jo, une jam Amerikan.”

    “Ah, Amerikan!” he said, and gave me the thumbs up.

    I bought four big Tirana beers for 400 LEK ($4.00) and went back to update my blog, only to find that the internet access was shut off after 10:30 PM.

    *Due to time constraints, lack of reliable internet access outside of Tirana, power outages in Tirana and the strength of Albanian beer, posting of this article has been delayed.

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