Macedonia: Overnight on the microbus
It turns out that getting from Albania to Bulgaria is harder than you'd think. Our friend Ivo had invited us to visit him while he spent July in his homeland. We balked at the price of the flight through Istanbul, so after poking our heads into every travel agency in Albania we found a bus for cheaper. When we arrived at the bus stop in Tirana, Ardit saw the tiny vehicle parked there and said "God, I hope that's not your bus!" It was, and it was jammed full of 20 excited Albanian lady Jehovah's Witnesses on their way to a convention.
Ten minutes before its scheduled departure, while we were saying our goodbyes in a cafe across the street, the bus left. We chased after it cursing and banging on the door before it let us on and we wedged ourselves between the Witnesses' luggage, which overflowed the rack and packed the aisle. It was a difficult passage through Macedonia by night. The Witnesses were remarkably cheerful despite the sweltering heat (the driver didn't like A/C), the ceaseless, deafening pop music (the driver needed it to stay awake) and the long checkpoints at the borders (the Witnesses compared their new passports and admired the stamps in Ambika's).
13 hours later in Sofia, Ivo came to pick us up at the bus station, only to be told that there was no bus from Tirana. After further investigation, it was conceded that there might be a microbus, but that it wouldn't arrive at the station but rather at the dumpster in the alley behind it. And that is where he found us, sleepless and neck-deep in chattering evangelists.