Crossing the border! - 5 January message
The following message was posted on 5 January to the SELAS forum:
...We've crossed the borders!!!
...last night at about 12 midnight after a very lengthy process we crossed the borders into Abkhazia!!!
The day was very tiring, seeing as we'd travelled from Moscow to Sochi by air. The situation in Sochi is very diffrent to what we had seen in Moscow. Untidiness and lack of organisation everywhere...
At the airport, Denis Provalov the leader of the mission was waiting for us. We then went by van for food to a village called Khosta, which is on the Black Sea. There we met some Czech speleologist friends. The local food was very good and also quite invigourating. Vodka flowed freely, and the mood was beautiful.
The only member of the team missing was Peter Hartley, a British speleologist living in America. As soon as he joined the group, we all went together to the borders.
The Abkhazians received us very hospitably in an "eyaero", a cavers' refuge with capacity for about 100 people. Oleg Klimchouk, the second in command of the mission was waiting for us there.
The weather was rainy all night, but fortunately this morning the sun made an appearance, an occurance which gives us hope that the flight with the helicopter may take place tomorrow morning (...possibly) .
The day today has so far been given over to relaxed preparations by all the 27 members of the mission. It is impressive to see that there are cavers from all parts of Russia, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic, the UK and naturally, Greece!!!Generally speaking, the mission is dominated by men, with only two Russian lady-cavers.
Will the weather hold? If yes, then tomorrow we will be at the entrance to the cave at a height of about 2200m. Fortunately there will be internet access from the top of the mountain so we'll be able to send our news to the forum (when we are not in the cave itself).
PS.: We'd like to thank Mr. Yianni Zena for his warm wishes.