I was window shopping in October 2013 in Shkodra, Albania. I came across an artist who’s style I really liked
I really loved the bike vibe of Shkodra and wanted to capture it. So I sat on a park bench taking photos of people biking. I captured the image I wanted.
So I took this photo to the artist and he agreed to paint this scene. I had be-friended the owner of the Hostel where I was staying and asked him to pay the artist the other half and ship me the painting. It was going to take a week and I had already been here a week. Months went by, I heard nothing. I called Tonin (hostel owner) and he then sent me a photo of the painting, but not the painting. It’s been 10 months and still no painting. I’ve begged him to return the artwork to the artist, he says he will, but it never arrives. I finally tell Tonin I’m going to call the police, I got his attention then, but still no painting. It’s been 3 months since the artist agreed to take back the painting, so by the time Tonin finally decides that I’m not going to give up about getting the painting, he takes it back to the artist. The artist now refuses to accept it, holy shit, I was so close. Tonin informs me of the situation and says the painting is at the Hostel. So I make plans to go to Albania and retrieve MY painting. I promise Natasa that if I don’t get the painting, I will let it go. I plan to sleep on the bus to Dubrovnik, Croatia, rent a car there and drive to Albania, get painting and drive back and catch next bus back to Slovenia.
The bus stops for food and the bathroom. I’m half asleep but can’t beleive what I’m looking at.
No one sits in the seats above the engine, maybe not a comfortable seat, but one great bed. The bus is 45 mins late to Dubrovnik. I grab the shuttle to the airport (that’s where the rental car is). I’m on the road for my 4 hour journey to Albania. With in 15 minutes the traffic is diverted to another road.
It’s a small border crossing, so they only have 2 people checking passports. So I’m losing time, I was hoping to be in Shkodra by noon. I had seen this ferry last time through here, it cuts 30km off your trip. I load the car on and hope to save some time. It didn’t help that much, I finally arrive about 4pm to the Hostel. To my surprise, the painting is nowhere to be found. I emailed Tonin 3 days before and told him I would be here Sunday to get it, but no painting. The hostel host speaks no English, none. But he get’s I’m pissed, I kick the wicker table and put my foot through it. Now, I’ve got Tonin on the phone and he says the painting will be there in 2 hours, I’m so pissed. I leave the Hostel and go looking for some Policemen. It doesn’t take long. They take me back to police headquarters to file a complaint against Tonin. There’s a guy at the police station telling me I’ve been conned and should forget about it and go home. It’s over,only after I leave, without the painting. I drive the head detective to a Restaurant, where the owner speaks English and Albanian. We get the whole convoluted story told. I give the detective Tonin’s phone number and he calls him. Within a 1/2 hour the painting was brought to our table by Tonin’s dad. In turn Tonin’s dad wants to have me arrested for damaging his table. Everyone looked at him and asked him to leave. The detective didn’t want me to take his photo, getting my painting. I eat my dinner at the San Francisco restaurant. By this time the sun is down but it’s still somewhat light out. I’ve got a 3-4 hour drive back to Dubrovnik, crossing 3 countries. I had to show my passport 14 times on this trip. I return the car back to the airport and take the shuttle bus to the bus station. It’s 2 am now, no bus till 7 am. I opt to sleep on the bus platform (I’m not alone) The lights were bright but I laid my head in the shadow. I actually slept some. I got my bench seat bed again, I didn’t do one tourist thing, this trip was strictly business.
Thanks for reading Jeffsbustour