New Year's Eve MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   "Meetme at the square at five," my friend Elvi yelled as he turned the cornerwith a quick step. He was walking bent forward, shrinking into his heavy coatsince the thick snow and the freezing wind wouldn't let him straighten up. ThereI was, alone, somewhere on the northern side of this small, beautiful town ofKorca, Albania. The images of the great pine trees standing on both sides of theboulevard brought the festive atmosphere of New Year's Eve to mind. The brancheswere so loaded with snow that they almost bent to the ground. This naturaldecoration made a wonderful scene. I took a look at the sky; the smoke comingfrom the chimneys added to the beautiful panorama a very romanticambiance.

Surrounded by this, I felt more welcome than ever. After a shorttrip to Greece, I thought, What a great thing, to be home. It was December 31,1998. My friends, my cousin Kostika, and I had decided to celebrate New Year'sEve on the mountain, in the small, wooden cabin we had built.

The mountainstood 5,000 feet high and was very close to the town. We only had to walk for afew minutes and we were at the bottom of this challenging giant. But it wasimpossible to cover the distance on foot with our equipment. The thick snow hadcovered the earth and there was no way we could use the old truck we normallyused.

Then I had a brilliant idea. Why not use a sled, since I had two ofthe strongest and most beautiful malamutes on the face of the earth? Once said,it was done. When the dogs realized they were to be part of our determined group,they were happier than ever. They were 15 months old, and had already developedstrong muscles from their intense training.

The equipment consisted of ourheavy blankets, several portions of dried fish (food for the dogs), two heavyaxes, and beverages. We would need all this to keep our body temperature upduring that 40 degree below-zero night. My cousin and I had to fit everything inthe sled, not an easy task. After two hours, everything was ready. By 4:30 a.m.,the dogs were furiously moving back and forth and side to side for a better fitof the heavy leather leashes. For a moment I stood and thought to myself thatJack London's sled in Alaska mustn't have been a lot different from ours. It wasfreezing outside, but the fire in my heart and the light in malamutes' eyesdefied the winter.

Everyone was at the square at five o'clock. I didn'thave to say "Mush" because once the gate was open, the dogs rushedforward. They knew what was expected, and they pulled with such strength that wereached the top of the mountain in less than two hours. The snow that had juststarted was being carried away by the wind and gathering in piles by the sides ofthe road. People usually get nervous when they find themselves in the middle ofthe winter 5,000 feet high on a mountain, but we didn't. The blood was rushing inour veins more forcefully than ever, and once we saw the outline of the cabin, wewere full of joy.

By eight o'clock that night, the small, cold cabin wastransformed into a warm, noisy, joyful atmosphere. Great chunks of roast werebeing swallowed, and, of course, Greek music was playing on the stereo. Honestly,I can't remember a greater event in my life. What can be more fun? A group of sixyoung men happily celebrating with the malamutes in the heart of a huge forest,which looked more frightening than ever when covered by the darkness of thenight. It was amazing, and it had to be that way. It had to be great. It was thelast day of 1998.

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This article has 1 comment.

Me said...
on Jan. 18 2009 at 10:23 pm
Wait are you Albanian or Greek? Or should I say "Shqiptar apo grek je?" tee hee

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