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We found a taxi for 1500 rubles through our guest house. The border was very close. The road went through a picturesque narrow gorge, but I could not admire this beauty and was a little nervous: we all know that the Russian border services are not the most friendly and professional in the world.

We passed the Georgian customs very quickly. We did not have to wait outside and suffer from the fiercely cold morning breeze, there were no queues, we were not asked any questions, our passports were quickly stamped, they smiled and wished good luck in English. It all took 5 minutes.

It took at least 5 hours at the Russian border. First, one younger border guard with his nervous repetitive finger movements (he was playing with his fingers on his right hand in a very weird way) checked our passports for a long time. He asked a few standard questions, slowly flipping through the pages of our passports, carefully staring at each page, as if searching for and deciphering secret messages there.

This went on for half an hour, until the computer was frozen … for another half an hour. Then we had to wait another hour until they could change the border guard. All this was really irritating: no one explained to us what was happening and how long we should wait.

Finally, one guy of Slavic appearance in civilian clothes came out and after greeting us nicely, asked us to go along with him. We approached a low house where we had to wait for another hour until I was called into the office. The first thing I have noticed there was a portrait of Putin …

I was interviwed by FSB (secret service of Russia) separately. They asked a lot of questions that did not even concern my trip. All was recorded of course. They also recorded my phone’s IMEI code. Before that, I erased all porn photos from my phone and possible dangerous information, but that was not necessary: they did not check the content of my phone.

The questions asked concerned my family, my previous trips (there were many of them: by that time I had visited 48 countries and my passport was full of visas and stamps). Perhaps my frequent trips made them doubt that I was a tourist. There were questions about my current job, future plans, personal questions and general questions such as whether I was a patriot, whether I supported our traditions, etc. I felt uncomfortable there, although the dude seemed to be trying to pretend to be a sweet and friendly guy. But he was definitely not.

I was interviewed for a total of 1.5 hours, then they turned to Steffen. We were already worried about our luggage in the taxi driver’s car, who was asked to drive further without us and we didn’t know where he and our luggage was.

The local chief sometimes came into the office and asked questions too. He boasted that he knew a little bit of German thanks to the German porn. The joke was clearly out of place. It was definitely not time to joke.

In the end, we were released and we with a light heart, joyfully and cheerfully rushed to our taxi driver. He, a poor man, was waiting for us all this time and did not know what to do. He said that he had never had such a situation when tourists were held at the border for so long.

Ahead of us, only Elbrus and one big question were waiting: how risky is it to raise the rainbow LGBT flag in the most homophobic part of Russia? After all, we were actually close to Chechnya, where hundreds of gays disappeared in prisons and are still disappearing now...

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