Wednesday, February 1

Stabbed Skies and a Spell

From my 2009 diary

Early morning 5 o’clock precise. The train pulled up, I grabbed my gear and alighted from a warm train compartment into a freezing night. The bags got covered with rime at once. At the cold station I joined a group of fellow-passengers who headed the same way. We chatted over the options of how to get to the mountains. There were not many. We would either wait for a route bus until 11 am or hire a van. The locals, circling around like sharks, were offering so pricey rides that we hired the biggest van for all of us (10) and piled into it.

The van was really old and cold, creaked at turns and crunched so loud that I was afraid it would burst into pieces any minute. The fellow-passengers were very optimistic about a possible crash, laughed a lot at the matter, took pictures and finally fell asleep.

Soon the day broke and breathtakingly huge mountains merged out of the grey of dawn. Serrated ridges of them were stabbing the sky. It was snowy and snow seemed to be falling from those stab wounds. The road was narrow and icy. At some point there was a steep slope to the left and a precipice to the right, my heart sank as I could see the van flying into the river at the bottom of the precipice. Fortunately, it was just my fertile imagination.

As we were driving higher into the mountains I felt a bit dizzy and my ears got stuffed up, so I had to yawn strenuously to get them back to normal. And then a miracle happened: I instantly recovered and drowsiness was suddenly gone. The Elbrus sparkling at first light blinded me.

The highest (18510 ft/ 5642 m) mountain in Europe left me overwhelmed with emotions. The Elbrus’s tops, which the locals call Mother’s Breasts, were unbelievably beautiful! They bewitched me. That was the place I belonged!

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