Uli convinced me that it is a great idea to drive the elevated road from Kakheti to a place called Omalu. Incidentally, this road is one of the most dangerous roads in the world, if the BBC is to be believed:
We stop at an inviting river up the mountains in the shade of the golden trees with local sausages and sheep’s cheese. We are surprised to find that an off-road vehicle and two Europeans are not far from us, while a Georgian is tampering with the vehicle.
When he takes his own vehicle and drives away, I go to the couple and offer my help. The two are Poles who have excluded themselves from their car. I will never forget that these two seriously asked if I could crack a car: “can you break in our car?” However, the Georgian came back with some tools. The couple had met him not far from the place of their mishap. Indeed, the first Georgian they met was able to get them out of their situation.
The journey into the mountains is getting wilder and wilder. We left the asphalt behind us a long time ago and climb an ever narrowing gorge. It goes up, as our engine notices. From the depths under the bonnet there are no noises that inspire confidence. When looking for the source we find that we hardly have any cooling water left and the rest of the water has just literally vanished into thin air. Since we checked the water before leaving, we couldn’t explain the phenomenon.
We let the engine cool down and pour more of our drinking water, since we don’t have another container. But the rise and frequent use of four-wheel drive also demanded more resources from the engine. The Mitsubishi Pajero was a bit older, but didn’t show many kilometers on the display.
We drive along the road with a little bit of fear. Every now and then there are large boulders and small streams run across the street. Overhangs look just as untrustworthy as the many gravestones along the way. Did the BBC include this street among the ten most dangerous in the world because of the many dangers lurking here or because of the high number of deaths that can be attributed to the suicidal behavior of every Georgian motorist? One would have to ask the surviving BBC reporters that.
Instead, the Caucasus shows its most wonderful autumnal side.
It is warm in summer, the leaves on the trees are intensely red and yellow and the air smells of fallen leaves lying in the heat.
I am not a great lover of autumn, which for me is nothing more than the sad farewell to summer. But this form of the prefinal season is incredibly beautiful and inspires me.
The gorge next to us yawns deeply. A thrown stone takes a few seconds until it announces its reunion with its fellow species through a distant rumble in the dark shadows.
Again we have to stop to get the cooling water back to a liquid level and have the opportunity to let the unbelievable mountain scenery of the Caucasus act on us. While we wait and let stones disappear into the abyss, an off-road vehicle stops next to us. The driver seems to be driving a tourist to Otomo and asks us in wild Russian what is going on. Uli describes the radiator problem and the driver takes a look at our engine.
But he can’t think of anything better than to blame the behavior on the condition of the road. They say goodbye again. From my experience on off-road routes with inferior cars, I know that this cannot be the case; as long as we don’t run out of streams for new cooling water, everything is fine. But it worries me that we now have significantly higher fuel consumption.
Lizards are constantly scurrying over the heated rubble of our street. On a steep slope in the distance we watch a shepherd
who keeps an eye on his sheep, which in the approaching sunset look like little balls of golden cotton wool.
We meet other people who have problems along the way. With them, however, the battery has passed.
It quickly becomes apparent that we cannot help. After all, help is on the way from the valley.
Fortunately, before the sun disappears, we reach the Torha Pass at 3000 meters and decide to pitch our tent there. The sensible idea is to set up the tent protected in a small hollow.
We decide on a small exposed hill with a magnificent view of the mighty mountains, behind which the sun is just disappearing and the last rays of which flood the world with gold.
Not far away we see a container in which men live who work late into the night on a nearby telecommunications mast.
Even in the dark we watch the lamps of the daring at the top of the tower. We unpack our food and enjoy the rising starry sky.