Woke up at 4:30am, I was exhausted. Halim tried to wake me at 4am – no go! He said I was dead asleep. Was running late. Halim had organized a friends Mercedes to take me to airport. Car wouldn’t start. The gods didn’t want me to leave. Car eventually started with sheer Albanian perseverance. Asim and Jurgen followed in their car. We stopped for gas – we were now definitely running late but made the check-in just in time.

We sat for coffee one last time at the Tirana airport. Halim told me the sad story of how Grandfather Xhafer died accidentally at the hands of his own brother and the complicated family relations occurring for some years after. The thing was, I couldn’t understand the words Halim was speaking but, I could understand what he was saying!

We finally said our goodbyes as we walked towards the security gate, I turned one last time to wave at my cousins. Sad to be leaving!

I’d started to come down with a fever. Nose running profusely. Sneezing constantly. I progressively became sicker as time went by. I had great plans for the flights home to read the entire Ismail Kadare novel, review my diary and all the media I’d captured during my travels. All I could manage was to watch the inflight movies and look out the window at the big wide sky go by.

After 20 hours I still hadn’t slept. I hadn’t brought warm clothes on the flight, as a result I shivered all of the way, there were no spare blankets. Eventually a flight attendant in his infinite wisdom finally gave me a set of 1st Class designer label Gucci tracksuit pants and top to wear, which I wore under my clothes. So now I was super stylishly sick and sweaty. I downed 3 straight scotches on ice and fell asleep for the rest of the flight. Ahhh yes, mothers little helper!

I awoke 30 minutes from Melbourne thinking – I’m home, what an amazing trip!