NËNTOR OSEKU: CURRAJ I EPËRM, GRAMA BAY AND SHALA RIVER – THREE HEARTBREAKING DESTINATIONS OF ALBANIA

November 9, 2019 || 621 views
From Irhan Jubica

INTERVIEW WITH THE FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHER THAT HAS TRAVELLED AROUND OF ALL ALBANIA 

It has been many years since Nëntor Oseku has walked around every corner of Albania with his photocamera . Many of the photos you come across online when you click to find a beautiful area of Albania are made from him. But what does he himself say about these trips? Read the interview, a sincere and emotional story with impressions of many trips.
You have been exploring especially Albania for almost 10 years, documenting its beauties. If you had to choose only one destination for Albanian tourism, which would it be?
Yes, the place that I would choose is Curraj i Epërm. I’ve visited it six times. The last time is four weeks ago. The magic of the beauty of this area attracts continuously. It is a deep mountain village in the north of Albania and is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in the Albanian Alps and very little frequented because of the geographical position.
Does the photographer always manage to include inside the frames of the image, everything he wants and everything he sees?
I try to include as much as possible, but what you see directly is twofold of the beauties in the picture. Three years ago I bought a device for underwater photographs and I try to introduce even underwater beauties into my photos.
Why did you choose to photograph only nature and monuments, not portraits of people living in these places?
As a child I had a passion for photography, my focus was always on landscapes and historical monuments. This is a different style from the portraits of people. Once I took pictures in a village in Prishtina in a poor family where through photos I tried to show to the public under what conditions the family was living. Fortunately, that photo album succeeded and many charitable people responded to help the family. This was the first time I used my passion for portraits of people. In the future, I will try to use my passion for this style of photos for charity purposes.
Recalling your experiences in all the places you have visited, both in Albania and Kosovo, which would you highlight as the biggest problem of tourism in those areas?
I would like to emphasize the main problem: waste. The thing that most obstructs me today is the waste that is thrown into virgin beaches by some irresponsible visitors travelling by motorboat. Likewise, there are places in Kosovo that visitors use for picnic during the weekends and then throw the garbage outdoors. I hope that in the future we will be more aware for the protection of the nature, given that our countries are entering the top lists of world tourism destinations, and also our countries have to take stricter measures to prevent this phenomenon.
You often associate with full descriptions photos that you take in a certain destination. Is that a secret ambition for journalism of a lawyer who became a photographer, or what?
Yes, I am a lawyer with profession. I studied justice, I have passed my lawsuit exam, now I’m at the end of my master’s degree and at the same time I work at the Gjakova Basic Court. I’m passionate about expeditions and photography because they get me off work and make me feels very calm. Every weekend I plan expeditions, than to return on the Monday with positive energy from travelling. This was my goal for my profession, while travel and photography have always been my passion – my hobby, which will help me in my profession to relax and be energetic in the field of justice.
How often did you get back to the same place to take pictures? What changes did you find in these returns?
There are some places I often come back to, or rather say, if I spend a long time without visiting them, I feel the need to visit as for food.
Such places are Koman Lake, Curraj i Epërm, Theth, Osumi Canyon and Karaburun Peninsula. I see many developments in Theth, where are being built and rebuilt many guesthouses. In Curraj i Epërm recently a small movement with foreign tourists has started. When I was for the first time in Curraj i Epërm I did not see foreign tourists. Now, recently foreign tourists have started to come. For Osumi Canyon I notice a positive change with the construction of the road from Berat. The first time I was there, the road was very bad, now, fortunately, the new road has made it easier for tourists becoming one of the most visited countries by foreigners and locals, as well as Koman Lake.
It has been said that you photograph places where no human being ever visited. Which places do you believe you have discovered to visitors?
Yes, this question has many interesting experiences. There are 3 places I went for the first time. Of course, they have been known to residents of that area, but not to local and foreign visitors. I’ve been trying to make them more familiar to visit through photos and descriptions. I will start chronologically.
Gjiri i Gramës (Grama Bay) – for the first time we were on March 17, 2012 along with Fation Plaku, an untiring Albanian explorer and two other friends. At that time the motorboats were banned from a Memorandum set by the government of Mr. Sali Berisha. We decided to visit Grama’s Bay from Llogara for the first time. During that month in Llogara there was snow above 1 meter and a half. We made the trail through snow from Qafa e Llogarasë (Llogara Pass): about 7 hours walking only in one direction. We had a lot of weight in backpacks because it was the first time and there was no drinking water in that part. We travelled through the snow, and when we went down to the Gram’s Bay we sunbath even though the calendar marked March 17th. It has been an interesting mix of winter and summer seasons during day. After that time, I visited Gram’s Bay for five more times, and every time on foot and never on a motorboat.
Curraj i Epërm – (Upper Curraj). Also in Curraj i Epërm we were the first tourists that visited it in August 2013. I have been there with three other friends from Gjakova. The idea came to us from a friend whom surname was Curri, who thought that originated from Curraj i Epërm. In the beginning we had no contact with the residents of that area for the trail, but we decided to find it using the map. We walked through an old long trail and abandoned by the inhabitants long ago. We confused the trail, and It took us 2 days and 2 nights of walking to reach Curraj i Epërm. Upon reaching the Curraj i Epërm we met 5 residents who welcomed us, told us about the village, history and worries of today, and to return they showed us the shortest path.
Shala River, Blini i Gurit të Lekës (Linden Tree of Leka’s Stone) – For the first time I visited it in June 2015. Our destiny was not Shala River, but the village Shosh of Shkodra. Travelling to that part left us with tremendous impressions. Then we visited some caves and we spend a night in the area with lots of crystal waters pouring into Koman Lake.
I would like to highlight that all the above mentioned sites have not been known and visited for tourists, but only for the residents of the area. I have been trying to make them familiar with domestic and foreign visitors through photos and texts. Fortunately, we had support from the media, which after sharing the photos and descriptions, wrote to me asking for their publication.
Have you personally observed the effect of encouraging visitors to see closely the places you have advised through the photos?
Yes, I have many foreign and domestic friends on Facebook and Instagram. After the publication of photos many Albanians text me often, expressing interest in the places I visit. Also, on Instagram and Facebook I have had cases when foreign visitors who were looking for information about travel and security around the countries, wrote to me and then came to visit Albania and Kosovo. I often mention the case of an American doctor who works in India where he is married to an Indian. They have contacted me from India. I have given them all the information they needed to come in Albania. They came from India and visited Albania. Now, they often comment on my Facebook posts showing how much they miss Albania.
Have you worked on realizing a personal exhibition and where? How about publishing a photo album?
No, so far I have not done anything concrete about the exhibition or the publication of a photo album. I put some thoughts about the album and I like to concretize it. I hope that in the future I can make it a reality.
Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Monte­negro. Will you take such pictures in Chameria too?
Two years ago I was in Konispol for the first time. I met very good people and heard their stories about Chameria. I would like to emphasize that I have many Cham friends and follow regularly their activities on the Cham issue. Unfortunately, we Albanians from Kosovo are limited to free movement due to visas. In the future I wish to obtain an Albanian passport, which is my dream – and move freely towards Chameria to visit and photograph those places, but also to hear their stories. Why not, even other European countries, where in the future I can open an exhibition of natural beauties of Albania.