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【Travel】Lin, ALBANIA

「アルバニアの真珠」で見つけたバルカン半島の原風景

By Kasumi Fujiwara, Photojournalist

写真 オフリド湖畔の村リンの遠景。鉄道の汽笛が旅情をかき立てる

 『Travel』のライター陣の中でも、秘境と呼ばれそうな玄人好みの場所を選ぶことが多いパリ在住の筆者。今回は、バルカン半島南西部に位置する小国アルバニアと、旧ユーゴスラビアのマケドニアとの国境に位置するオフリド湖の湖畔の小さな村リンを訪れました。イスラム教徒が7割を占め、1990年代までは共産主義政権下で鎖国状態にあったアルバニアは、長らくヨーロッパの最貧国として知られてきました。近年はようやく民主化と市場経済化の成果が出ているそうですが、果たして筆者好みの場所だったのでしょうか。

 紛争が終わった旧ユーゴスラビア諸国の歴史都市が観光ブームに沸く中で、バルカン半島の原風景をとどめていると期待して選んだアルバニア。首都ティラナからレンタカーで悪路を南下し、一路オフリド湖を目指します。およそ200万年前から400万年前に形成されたという世界最古の湖のひとつで、その美観と独自の生態系から世界遺産に認定されています。写真でも、穏やかな湖面とリン村の家屋の茶褐色の屋根のコントラストが、南欧の強い日差しに美しく映えていますね。 村に足を踏み入れれば、今も素朴な生活を送る人々が人なつこい笑顔で迎え入れてくれました。多民族が共存してきたバルカン半島の良き伝統を象徴するかのように、小さな村にイスラム教徒とキリスト教徒が共存している姿は、特に筆者の心を打ったようです。旧ユーゴで起きた悲劇を考えれば、筆者をしてこの村を「アルバニアの真珠」とまで言わしめたのも理解できる気がします。(M)

 I headed south from tourist-packed Kotor, Montenegro. Kotor, still quiet six years ago, has become like Dubrovnik, Croatia. And Dubrovnik, already busy six years ago, has now become like Shinjuku Station according to friends who visited over the summer.

 To get away from the crowds, I decided to try Albania, before the Albanian coast becomes like Croatia and Montenegro.

 Earlier, in Paris where I live, I looked for a guidebook. I found only one with a not very detailed map of the country. That's fine, I love to go my own way, but in this case, a make-it-up-as-you-go-along trip turned out to be too ambitious.

 The morning of my departure from Tirana, the capital of Albania, I learned from Piro Milo at the rent-a-car office that the road I had planned to take was in terrible shape.

 From the beginning I was determined to avoid driving through the capital, notoriously clogged with old Mercedes. Donkeys were the preferred means of transport in Tirana up to 20 years ago and the drivers there are considered the worst in Europe.

 To avoid the stress and maybe a dent or two, I headed east, toward Lake Ohrid, instead of south as originally planned.

 Even the rent-a-car office didn't have a map of the country, but with the general direction settled, I wasn't worried. But this, the "better road," was still a challenge, mountainous, with a lot of hairpin curves.

 Shortly after passing a fork to Macedonia, I saw a big lake and a small village on the coast. Lake Ohrid sits on the border between Macedonia and Albania.

 Macedonia lays claim to two-thirds of the lake and the Albanians to the rest. It is the deepest lake in the Balkans and, at 4 million years old, considered the oldest lake in the world.

 At last I arrived at Lin. The fields behind the village were decorated with red and green trains that looked like toys. They were slowly traversing the yellow wheat fields. The landscape reminded me of Japan's countryside in the "good old days."

 I parked the rental in front of a relatively new hotel and took a stroll through the village. There were only two main roads but many trails used by shepherds and their flocks.

 From the main road, there were narrow paths leading down to the lakeshore. One extended family lived in several houses along one of the paths.

 The grandmother was spinning wool and binding red onions as her grandchildren played around her. The children's mother was washing dishes in the stream running near the path.

 A beautiful boy about 8 years old, sticking close to his grandmother, told me in English, "My name is Tom." Later, when I took another look at the nearby fields, I wondered, were my "wheat fields" really planted with onions?

モスクと教会の幸福な共存

 There were about 10 small fishing boats on the lake. Locals, I suspected, fishing for their families or to sell to the restaurants or on the road.

 Later I had lunch on the hotel's pier. My waiter recommended a brown trout endemic to Lake Ohrid called a koran in Albanian.

 German motorcyclists eating behind me had lamb cooked in onion sauce, also a local specialty. As I ate, a teenager carrying fish for the hotel jumped onto the pier from a boat.

 Near a mosque I met several young girls, 8 to 10 years old. One, Celina, spoke a little French. She said she studied French at the local elementary school.

 On a hill behind an orthodox church - the church and mosque coexist peacefully here - are the ruins of a 6th century Christian basilica with floor mosaics. The hill used to be an island and the village developed at the foot of the hill, along the lake shore.

 The site was closed but someone called for the caretaker, Mohamed, to come to the cafe. After some short, non-verbal communication, he agreed to escort me to the basilica.

 As we went up the hill, his daughter joined us. The size of the village makes everything easy. Inside the fence, father and daughter took out a small broom and a shovel and started to clear the sands which protected the mosaics.

 Typical Christian 6th century mosaics with symmetrical birds and grapes appeared under the bright sun. Before its destruction, this basilica would have been visible rising in the sky above the village.

 Due to the 500 year occupation by Ottoman Empire from 1385, the majority of Albanians are Muslims, but this is one of the important vestiges of early Christian society in the area.

 After Lin, I drove throughout the country, visiting impressive old towns and archaeological sites. Still, I realized that Lin, an unassuming fishing village, was really one of the pearls of Albania.


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