Last Sunday, Rebecca, Jen, and I were invited to take part in a religious pilgrimage up one of Albania’s tallest mountains. The pilgrimage takes place every year between August 20th – 25th. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but I had read a little about it in one of Albania travels books and it sounded like fun.
At 4am, we were picked up by one of my co-workers, Gramos, his wife, Dori, and their 2 boys, Aldi and Lindi. We drove through Fier, Berat, and Polican before turning off the road and starting the treacherous 25 km drive to the top of Mount Tomorri. Once we were at the top (2416 m), we took the sheep Gramos brought with us from the back of the truck to a rocky area with a beautiful view. Gramos quickly sacrificed the sheep. He took some of the blood to put a small drop on his wife and 2 boys. He then paid a guy to clean the sheep for him. There were many sheep being sacrificed in this manner.
While this was being done, we entered the small “teqe” at the very top of the mountain where people were praying and lighting candles. We then collected the sheep and started back down the mountain to a point ¾ down where there is a large teqe. There were many people camping, drinking, and roasting sheep in the traditional rotisserie method called “mish pjekur”. We found a person willing to roast our sheep and we were told it would take 3 hours to roast. We past the time by relaxing in the shade, visiting the teqe, and hiking around a little bit. Once the sheep was cooked we ate a wonderful picnic lunch. We then started our journey home arriving in Vlore at 8 pm. It was a long day, but well worth the great cultural experience. Very far off the typical tourist track!
The religion of the Bektashi Order was formed in the 13th century and is considered a liberal sect of Islam. It is now headquartered in Albania.