517 kilometres west of Kavala, in a small village named Strum in western Albania, Festim Malka is crouched in his watermelon field. He notches a hole in the top of the melon and then cuts out a slice, revealing the fruit’s juicy, red flesh. “It’s real organic. Come try it!” he yells in a gravelly voice, his hand-rolled cigarette still between his teeth. With his leather sandals and beige Capri pants, Malka doesn’t look anything like what most people imagine when they think of a farmer. Unlike his Greek counterpart Themis Kalpakidis, Malka has already lost his fight against the pipeline. Its pipes have been in his soil for nearly a year already. They cross his property on the diagonal, two metres below the surface. When people from Abkons, the Albanian subsidiary of TAP, first came to him two and a half years ago, he refused to sign on the dotted line. But then, he says, they told him there are laws that would allow them to take away his land and convert it into government land. So he decided to sign after all. Since then he has been receiving €350 in rent for his land – per year. “If I had planted watermelons in this field during the summer, for just three months, I would have earned at least €2,800 a year,” says Malka. Now his watermelons and tomatoes are always at risk of drowning. Because every time it rains, the rainwater collects in his field and can no longer drain off. The drainage that was added when the pipeline was being built is to blame, because it changed the natural direction that the water had run off. The makeshift dams he built cannot support that amount of water. Malka says he complained to the workers at the site. A lawyer would have been too expensive and too far away. Tirana is a long way off; he doesn’t have the time. “Besides, when has a little fish ever been able to swallow a big one, especially in this country?” he adds with a stoic laugh.