Strazha to Struga 70km
Almost everything is frozen. My back brake cable is frozen, so no brakes for the downhill. My water bottles are frozen solid. They have expanded so much I cannot get them out of the bottle cages. The rivers and drains are frozen solid. My toes are not frozen. Three layers of Icebreaker are keeping them warm. My tent is not frozen, because I've slept under a gazebo. My clothes are mostly warm and dry, except my inner gloves, which were obviously not dry enough. They are now frozen. My food is frozen. Bread, bananas, cheese, chocolate. I guess I'm leaving here hungry.
The good news is I'm going downhill, so no sweat, that would freeze, although the roads are frozen and icy. I'm taking it easy, being very careful. The mountains are getting smaller, and the scenery is beautiful, and the roads are very quiet.
I find a Cafe attached to a petrol station. I'm desperate for something hot. They do have hot chocolate, but no hot food. I resort to prepackaged pastries... not so good. A local guy takes my photo. He is a councillor, and wants to put it in the local paper. A lovely young post grad student, travelling with her parents chats to me. She gives me some delicious apple cake her Mum made. The best I've tasted in a very long time. Everyone is very interested in me. In most other countries, when I explain what I'm doing, and then tell my listeners that "I'm a little crazy", they laugh and agree. In Macedonia, they disagree. They tell me I'm doing a great thing. A truck driver says "No. You are the intelligent one. No one stuck in an office at home will be seeing or experiencing anything like you. Not anytime in their lifetime...." I tend to agree.
I have a choice. I can turn left and go to a historic village for the night, and then circumnavigate Lake Ohrid to Albania, or turn right to Struga, stay there the night, before heading to the closer border. I'm knackered. The cold has taken a lot of energy. I head to Struga. The hostel I was counting on is locked up solid, but I find a hotel, and defrost.
Up early for breakfast. It's raining heavily. My host tells me it is very cold. I look out the window. The rain is freezing as it hits the ground. Apparently, it will be better and warmer tomorrow. I don't take too much convincing. Back to my room. Eating, snoozing, and watching Fox Movie channel. Before I know it, it's dark again. Days are short in Macedonia.