Thursday, 26 August 2010

Lakoban and a journey delayed

We woke up in the morning with the sun gently rising into a clear blue sky with no sign of what had occurred during the night. While we got dressed and ready for the day our hosts looked anxiously at each other what's more Hassan appeared troubled. The TV was on with a very earnest reporter pointing to flood damage close to Macahel. Hüseyin beckoned to me explaining six people had been caught in the floods during the night and died, furthermore the road to Lakoban was impassable and we would have to stay where we were until the road was fixed.

This appeared all the more remarkable since the world outside appeared a bit damp but certainly not drenched by any wild downpour from the heavens.

Some of the ladies in our host house making magnificent pasta. Move over Italy, this is the real thing.

The light in our bedroom was coloured by a yellow skylight which cast a warm glow over the room .Very comfortable and clean with a proper shower .

During breakfast we agreed with Hassan on a plan . While we went for a walk in the mountains the men in the village would attempt to mend the road with what seemed the most basic of equipment.

The news of the flooding and road no longer passable, although unexpected, seemed in keeping with events so far. So while the men form the village went off to mend the road with what looked like the most basic of equipment Mavlute took us up to the head of the valley from where we could see Macahel and the mountain range before us.

We now had time to kill and had planned to explore Lakoban so every detail we encountered was exciting – even the cows with their wonderful headdresses were a novelty.

It was apparent the weather was about to close in on us so we swiftly made our way to Lakoban’s famous glacial lake but not fast enough. The rain began to fall as we scrambled back to the van. It wasn’t much fun seeking refuge in the van and we were itching to explore the area.

As we watched the mists rise up from the mountain range Mavlute took to the track making his way down to the a less exposed spot where we made camp and Mavlute and Hassan cooked us a trout collected the previous night . Fortunately the weather cleared as swiftly as it had arrived.

The view over the mountains from the lake not only illustrated how high we were but some cruel weather was boiling up and could be coming our way .

On the way back from the lake the winter snow can clearly be seen as a reminder of the winter past.

As the sun burned through the mist the sun lite up the valley revealing Rhododendron flowers . Very late in the year . At this altitude I would have expected them to be over .

Our lunch spot provided Richard and Helena with their first taste of the Caucuses with the abundance of wild flowers and swirling mists.

This image was very typical of our first impressions of Lakoban. Mists and cloud descending with little or any notice . You can see Richard walking into the mist and within seconds he had vanished from sight.

After lunch of wonderful trout lunch we made our way back down to the village to see if the road had been fixed.

With no news we went to explore another small hamlet over the brow of the hill before our guesthouse , a magical place where Melissa made friends with some of the local ladies.

This small hamlet sitting high in the mountains just over the brow of the hill looking down on Lakoban was worth the visit .

The village tap in the hamlet . I like this picture , it's very typical of mountain life. Life needs to be practical in the mountains - keeping the cheese cool and the wind off your back.

Hassan looking very troubled and I suspect his concern was partially due to wondering how he was going to get us out of Lakoban. We had already caused enough trouble.

Looking down on Lakoban from the hamlet above.

The wild flowers and butterflies were staggering in their variety and intensity and none of us felt downhearted by the change of plan. After a full afternoon walking we made our way back to the house and to our relief the village men arrived with news the road was fixed. How we were about to discover.

Once we packed our things into the van and said our heartfelt goodbyes, Mavlute drove back down the valley . Our hosts had been magnificent .How often has your guesthouse owner rebuilt the road to your next destination after a murderous storm in the night? On arrival at the rebuilt section of the road it was hard to imagine how our team of men could have built something in such a short period of time . These are tough men with generous hearts. We were about to discover something very special as our journey unfolded .

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