I like Gori, my town, but it was quite nice to leave last Thursday when I had the opportunity. I hade decided to head for the high altitudes, the proper Caucasus that I had heard and read about..The ride there may sound like a bit of a joke: A Russian living in Georgia; A Georgian working in Russia; an Ossetian working in Chechnya (South Russia) and myself. I don’t know the origin of the guy behind the wheel, perhaps a mixture of various ethnicities. The five of us squished into a small overloaded Lada Zhiguli making our way up the bumpy serpentine roads. We got along pretty well.
After a couple of hours I reach my destination, Kazbegi, a sleepy town of 4000 just south of the border to Russia. It seems that few things have changed in this village over the years. Sure, now adays travellers arrive by car, the houses are heated with gas as opposed to wood and half the population use cellphones daily. But, on the other hand, the houses are still built in simple stone/wood structures, the shepheards still graze their cattle in the hills and the old women still churn (is that a word, or did i just make that up?) their own cheeze.
I think the locals there have always hosted people passing through and they certainly know how to treat their guests. “Mama”, whom I stayed with, sure fed me well. During the days I biked through the valleys and hiked up the hills. One day I made it passed Djuta, one of the highest villages in Europe at 2200 m. From there I hiked in sun, rain, hail and snow and shortly before the pass at 3300m I had to turn back as evening was approaching. The scenery was absolutely splendid and I realize how much I love being in nature breathing that pure oxygen. So calm and peaceful. Only too bad I couldn’t share it with you..
After a great weekend I’m back at work and life is good. I’m only missing running water at home, its been 48 hours without it now… But I will try to do as the locals – accept it and not expect anything.