My host-Babua Rezo and myself; I'm basically a spitting image
In between teaching, travel (which I’ll get to), getting sick again (which I’ll also get to), and managing various other social activities (winter travel plans, my annual Thanksgiving football game, and the occasional acid trip [I’m kidding of course, but name that movie!]), I’ve been busy as all hell. I don’t want this to become a place where I only post once a week, and I know things will slow down eventually, so please excuse my procrastination for the time being. This post will be mostly about my recent travels, but hopefully I can soon get back to my inane anecdotal humor. Enjoy.
Ati – I’ve been traveling these last two weekends, and after I went to Batumi two weekends ago, I told someone it’s the most beautiful place I’ve been to since I got here. Well, this past weekend I traveled to Svaneti, which is, amazingly, even more beautiful. Both are polar opposites when it comes to climate, but really they’re only a few hundred kilometers apart. Which would take less than an hour by plane, but probably nearly nine hours by car since the road into Svaneti and it’s capital of Mestia is about as safe as a Bangkock hooker (too much?).
So this is where I stayed in Batumi, appropriately named, Hotel Old Ship
Otsi – But let me start with
My new Georgian buddy Vano looking quite spiffy in my sunnies; although when he found out I bought them in Tbilisi, he was disgusted.
Otsdaati – There’s been times when I’ve been reminded of the Pacific Northwest while in
Ormotsi – And we got to stay on a pirate ship… Well, not really, but kind of. It was a few friends and myself who headed down to
View of the Batumi harbor the next morning; add a dock and turn that container ship into a ferry and you get the Puget Sound
Ormotsdaati – So
The reservoir right at the beginning of the Sveneti region; it's amazing how clear that water looks compared to where it comes from. Giant damn dam seen to the left.
Samotsdi – I won’t go into too much detail, but nothing I say can really do the views or area justice. The ride from Zugdid to Mestia (only about 120 km) can take anywhere from five to seven hours and is not for the feint of heart. It was again myself and some of the other volunteers and thanks to some well-thought out planning by a few Zugdidi ladies, we had our own private marshrutka (although I’m using that term rather loosely, since we picked up hitch-hikers from time to time) and were staying at a nice guest house for the duration of our stay (so maybe I should say that just some of the volunteers can’t be bothered with planning). Our marshrutka driver, Zuravi, made it a point to tell us where anybody had died while driving on the road, which was pleasant. The drive up only allows for glimpses of beauty, especially if the weather isn’t cooperating, but it basically follows along the
A sketchy pedestrian bridge that crosses the Enguri River
Samotsdaati – The people of Svaneti are called Svani’s (which is pronounced like Swani since the v’s in Georgian are pronounced like w’s, much like Latin) and are sort of like the red-headed step-children of Georgia. It reminds me of the way Western Pennsylvanians view the people of
The view out our window in our room. Enguri River and the valley in the background.
Otkhmotsi – And some of that might have to do with how far the region has come in the past ten years. They have a fantastic tourism center and website (partially supported by
Purty; leading up to the mountain you can see the Chaladi Glacier
Otkhmotsdaati – I don’t have the ability to describe how beautiful Svaneti was and is, but it got me thinking about where it ranks on my list of most beautiful places, and I would say most of them have to do with heights and views. Seeing
Sunset peaking out before it falls behind the hills
Asi – But luck, like a see-saw, has to even out at some point. Which is why I returned to Bandza and was sick within the day. It’s the second time I’ve been sick (and I’m not talking tummy/headache under the weather sick; I’m talking nauseous, groaning in my bed, can’t make it to the door sick) since I’ve been here, which is a huge outlier to my previous performance of sickness. Maybe I’m just hitting my peak sick years, and I’ll slowly return to form. But before I was bed-stricken, when I got back to the house, I was welcomed with a gift from Lasha’s sister in Belgium (Lasha’s sister married a super nice guy from Brussels named Laurent and I help their daughter with her English assignments from time to time). It was a really neat polo shirt and a nice pen (somehow, all the Gabunia’s know the way to my heart). I just kept on thinking, I come back from the most beautiful place in
View of the valley from atop our hike on the second day