Alan picked us up at half past seven and brought us to their apartment on the other side of Vladikavkas, where a sumptuous breakfast of tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, pancakes, bread, butter and dates was waiting for us. It was the weekend and Alan, Tamilan and Aleksandra wanted to go to the mountains with us and show us the Caucasus. On the way, Alan nodded in one direction and explained that a few years ago a terrorist attack on a school in the nearby town of Beslan had claimed many lives.
And Chechnya and Ingushetia are still close. It is quiet there now, but the bloody conflicts between the Muslim minority and the government troops were not long ago.
The weather was wonderful, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and we could finally leave our warm clothes in our luggage. On the sidelines, Alan stopped in his feudal large SUV so that we could fill ourselves with water at a natural spring. Not far from there was a fantastic gorge, at the bottom of which a brook ate its way further into the mountain. And beehives were stacked on large trailers.
Apparently these were constantly being moved, so that the bees had a lot of variety in their diet and nature could look forward to the fertilizing visitors in new places. Here, in the city as well as in the mountains, we saw no garbage. They’re really very clean, these Russians.
Alan drove into a valley and followed the gravel road to the end. At the foot of the mountain and on the edge of a mountain river we saw a strange formation of stone houses with dark slate roofs that were too small to be inhabited. They were still inhabited. There were entrance holes on the front and back through which one could see the bones of entire families in heaps. It was a necropolis of a bygone people of the Caucasus. Aleksandra explained that the social status of a house could be recognized by its location. The higher the graves, the more important the families were.
A high defensive tower rose up immediately next to the houses. Even from a distance we could see a few of them in the mountains here. These are a very typical feature of the Caucasus. Whole villages were built from defensive towers. A square tower is piled up from stones and provided with floors made of wood on which different families and cattle live. Here, too, the principle counts: higher is always better. In the event of an attack, all families could retreat to their towers and shoot arrows down from the top of the tower.
Suddenly a boy shakes my hand and says hello. Later he shakes my hand again when I come out of a toilet, and then it goes to your father and tells him in Russian, I’m his friend – so Uli was able to translate for me. Very touching.
Alan had the idea to go to a beautiful waterfall. The only small problem, however, was that it was already in Georgia … and our Russian hosts didn’t have their Russian passports with them.
Alan still tried his luck at the small border post. After all, he chatted with his southern neighbors for a while, but they stayed tough. Even if Russians could enter Georgia at will – which was not the case the other way around – they needed at least a passport to do so.