Rock Carvings. Broken LADA

Coming down from the mountain was a steady decline. A road for off-road cars and shepherds, mountain folk who work and live in high elevations, separated the rolling hills. I saw the famous petroglyphs carved into the volcanic rock. I could see primitive carvings; the only thing recognizable was stick drawings of people and mountain goats. The animals who live high in the mountains, it was no surprise to later down the trail find shepherds, raising sheep, and keeping them in check with their 11 dogs, more like crosses between wolves and bears. The animals are huge, ferocious and very territorial.

The shepherds fed me veal, cooked vegetables, and of course… vodka. These people were carrying on the work of those generations before them, and I think they have changed very little over the centuries. And much like their ancestors, they confessed to carving into the rock, proving their existence, telling their story, and leaving their mark, a human urge amplified due to the life of isolation they have been dealt. Leaving drunk, I continued down the rolling hills till I reached the scar of the mountain, large heaps of volcanic rock piled high, black, covering the land like armor. The mountain slowly healing its exposed wounds, small patches of wild greens growing wherever they can find a packet where wind has blown enough dust to collect and make soil. Continuing further down, under the hot sun, I finally saw my destination, a large lake off in the distance. Being near the water was cool and relaxing, a nice break from the heat. I didn’t even care that there were thousands of flies buzzing around my head all night, or the freezing cold, or the wet dew in the morning.

The next day, I set off again, to climb into the mountains, to reach the furthest village I could that was due north. Not long after setting out down the dirt road I ran into two men working on their broke down LADA. I have been shown so much generosity during my trip, and even though I know nothing about car maintenance, I offered to help and do whatever I could. We pushed the car to a kick-start, and as a thank you, they offered to take me to their village, some 30 kilometers away. I had been hiking so much in the heat that I couldn’t refuse an offer to take a break and get a ride for a day. We took a ‘shortcut’ leading us off-road, high into the mountains, through grassy fields, over rocks and splashing through seasonal streams, at times losing the path, but the driver always seemed to find his way. At his home, we were treated to homemade tan, coffee, and fresh fruit. It was still early in the day, so I decided to continue on. The man pointed me in the right direction, and I walked on to the next village.