We spend the night at 2200 meters, overlooking a vast, empty valley. At midnight a thunderstorm breaks right outside my window loading and discharging not above, but directly opposite the curtains in the pitch blackness.
I began to understand how locals can fill the rocky hulks with human moods and forms. The road's highest mountain, Mt. Kazbek, is said to be inhabited by a man chained to its flanks, Amirani. This is curiously similar to that other myth of the mountain, Prometheus, chained to a mountainside for stealing fire from the gods the symbol of consciousness for humanity.
At 7 a.m. our consciousness is stirred by a thin grey dawn and silver moon. The mountains look back with that terrible impassiveness, suddenly concealing many thoughts and feelings. What will they do next?
We stop at the road's summit, Jvari Pass (2395 meters, 7860 feet). We look nervously at the melting avalanches, abandoned gas pipes bent like paperclips, roadside graves, ruined vehicles left in the snow. I remark how the Soviets once renamed the highway 'The Road of Friendship.' Soso laughs, 'Friendship…where?'