through four seasons

The house is dead silent in the morning and wakes up only after I start moving around. Freezing cold. Teacup is very good for warming up my hands.
The upper parts of the mountains are frosted and partly hidden in clouds. The hostess doubts weather the pass is open. I promise her to drive slowly and hit the road. Luckily she doesn't speak enough Russian to hold me back but it's clear that she has been instructed not to let me go. The host left for work a while ago. I didn't have the chance to ask what kind of work is it.
Still a lot of photo stops because the colors are slightly shining through the frost. I even forget to think what all this beauty could mean for crossing the pass. From time to time the sun tries to break through and on my way up I can see some blue sky. Unbelievable luck.
From the pass I can at first see a huge valley and faraway rocks covered in snow against blue sky through a disappearing cloud. Who has seen Strandsbyvattnet through a cloud on Senja island, Norway, can imagine what this means. Senja moment. There's some snow also on the pass but only very little.
For some time I drive in a herd of horses and afterwards meet a man who asks for horses and cows. He's happy to hear that cattle is coming. International messaging.
Next I'm stopped by a man who asks for a phone. I explain in Russian that since my phone doesn't have a Georgian number I can only send sms-s and make no phone calls. Ok, Germania, he gives up. Since when do Germans speak Russian?
The drive down goes pretty fast despite the sun because of the slow start in the morning. Besides I want to visit a couple of places before returning the car. The first is a circle through Dusheti and passing by Bazaleti lake. Dusheti was the capital of Aragvi princes in the 17th century. No sign of the princes. Bazaleti is a lake that was cried by the Georgians when Queen Tamar's child died. Terrible wind there.
I don't see the sign pointing to Tsilkani church. There are signs to all kinds of other churches. So I call David and we meet on the edge of town in Lukoil gas station. I ask if I should wash the car before returning it. In Albania I had to (but it later turned out differently anyway). David doesn't consider it necessary. Whatever.
For returning the car back I get the 200$ back. No-one even comes outside with me to look at the car, so no fuss with dirt. Anyway, the car was cool.
Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is on the menu. But David has bad news. The weather forecast says it's going to rain cats and dogs. To make sure I believe it, it starts to rain right away. Rays of sun pierce through the clouds like some kind of halo.
By the road there are refugees' camps. Nice rows of small decent houses like a cheap real estate project before planting the trees. The refugees don't live in tents like in most other places in the world. They arrived in August and the Georgian government asked for help from Europe to build shelters before approaching winter. A positive answer arrived. In March. By that time Georgia had managed on its own and could proudly turn down the help.
From war stories I hear that the security cameras of banks and other establishments it was visible how soldiers of Russian army vandalize, destroy and steal. For example chairs. Nothing has changed.
Disproportionally often there are signs with distance to Sukhumi by the road. To remind us that it is still a Georgian city.
We change the plan so that to stay overnight in Borjomi, in a hotel where it is possible to watch how the Georgian team plays rugby in New Zealand in the night, go to Vardzia tomorrow and the day after, when it's supposed to be a better weather, go to hike in the park.
In Borjomi it's Borjomi Day. Candyfloss and air balloons with ears. Lot of teenagers and loud concert. We drink the real water from a spring in the park. It's warm and salty. The caroussels and other things do not work, the season is over. Somewhere is a fire but you can't get coffee from there, instead it seems to be the place of residence of the park guard.
The hotels are not full during the celebration like we feared at first. We get some weird two-room apartment.
Wake-up call is at four. Rugby players piled up on top of each other isn't half as exciting as David who is heatedly jumping around in the room to cheer his team. The first half ends well with Georgia being in the lead, the second half goes a bit out of hand. The referee favors Argentinians, it's unfair.
Vardzia and other places

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