Goodbye Borjomi, Goodbye mi friend!

This is the end. As always there is an end. So from my side this end was yesterday. Yesterday I went away from Borjomi, in the fronteer I had to pay 20 dollars. Fucking capitalismus! So in that boarder, instead of have also the prices in the currencies of the boarder too there is only in dollars?? puag. Anyway, I give 40 lari, where I could have give 25, because I had the two options of money. But no, as always I don't think. The bank man looked at me nice, because he would not give me any lari back or equivallent for the extra money I'm sure I payed. So after running in the rain twice, because of having to put visa to say goodbye to Georgia and visa to say hello to Turkey, thinking on when I cross my beloved bridge over the Rhin between Germany and France like nothing and here with nationalists flags of the same colour and tall metal fences, we entered the new country. I changed churches for moschees in the landscape, but the flag was still present every where.

Why do we need flags to know where we are? I know I'm in the world, the rest I don't care. Then from 9 in Borjomi till 7 in Istanbul I only heared Bony M and Greek traditional music. So please, Greek people, stay away from me for a while or I'll bite you, jejeje. I ended quite far from the center, but I didn't wanted to take a taxi, I found a shopping center where only the guard was open and let me get some money from cash withdrawal. Then a man with a bus, who only speaked turkis said he take me to the metro station but he stopped at the end of street, making endless questions that I could not responde. So I apologized, went out and found a woman with her dog. He resulted to be another spelled sepharad descendant. And I ended in a taxi to the Sultanhamet neighbourghood.


The agressivity of the Marschrutka drivers

We went in the morning to the botanical garden, which has a nice waterfall. It looked to me like beeing in Italy again and they even had Pinsapos, an special tree from Spain. Then we went to a big lake to have some bath, where Stefania was kind of disturbed by a young guy which first words where: I don't like piercings in the girls (who asked you for opinion, turd?)And we saw what I would like to call the "Religion-stargate cube". A massive cube telling the religious story of georgian on the top of a hill (or that seemed to me, but I didn't research more about it), which could be the christian version of the famous interconnect portal of the Stargate film. Then when comming back to our "homestay". A man came inside the Marschrutka, say something to the conductor and this got so angry that wanted to spell the man from his out by kicking his face when he was already laying half outside of the car, after the previous punching and neck-graving fight. We where all shocked, I thought, what can possibly say a man in 3 seconds that leads to this gratuite demostration of violence? coming back at the place, the hosters learned from our lonely planet book, that they could ask 30 lari to the next buch of tourists instead of 20, like they did to us. What they don't seemed to realize is that you need an improvement on your bed and sofa, not window, fool of ugly&scary dolls, not to mention there was almost no blanked room. But they where nice persons to stay at.

Queen Tamar-ta of Sakartvelo.

We got up really early, arround 6, well I sleep a couple of minutes more by Gio the ranger and Omart where destroyed, after having party with local shepperds the night before. But we had a long journey for us. We came up to the shepers place where they had a truck fool of goat cheese and there where like 10 dogs. Then we continued and ended at another shepher's house, where I was the only woman amoung 10 guys, except for the russian poster of britney spears hanging on the door. I though, yeah, somehow realistic that britney had the remote idea to cross this paramount through one day. Well we cook some of the mushroms delicatessen, the ones that are the most difficult to find in their opinion I guess and some fried cheese. But they just through all kind of rubish direct after their table on the front door, which for me was like to say. Come on, I know here up you cannot take a recycling track, but still some autos reach hear, why don't you just accumulate it somewhere together so that you don't have to see this shit every meal. But they seemed not to be disturbed from that views, even when the further views, where the ones of gorgeous mountains. We left and they gave me the rest of the mushrooms in a plastic bag, which whe had to hang from my bag even when it was pouring oil. Then I had to throw away my bag twice, to save some terrain level, so the mushrooms passed to a happier life in the middle of the meadows. We saw some frog eggs, that looked like tschurtschela to me (tschurtschela is something traditional here, basically nuts covered with some cooled grape juice like caramel). Some other shepherd gave the ranger a pair of homemade nunchaco. I wondered why possibly you need that in the middle of nowhere, maybe for beating "kung foo panda" And then we entered a place where the brown bears like to eat framboises, there where rests of their digestion every 10 meters. Also some archeological founds, about how the Georgians used to put the wine. In the museum we read that they re-used some burials for that, so I was wandered if that could be the case. Then I falled inside the river why crossing it with my big bag, so we had a bunch of laughts. I called myself queen tamar, cause that day it was really nice to see, how they where all concerned about what I should learn, like the names of trees and they gave me flowers, so I ended with a bunch of things in hand. Last but not the least, I saw my first live viper. I like snakes, but seeing how difficult was to differencite her from the stone, made me thing I should mind my steps more next time I trek around. We ended pushing the car, till the petrol station. They wanted me to stay seat in the auto, cause as a woman I should not do such an effort. But I gained the sex battle, jumped out of the car and share a funny moment of running after a lada niva.


“Te quiero puta” (ramstein) or 2 days trekking in Abastumani... by Marta

So after sleeping 4 hours I met Tango. Who happened to be with two friends, one of them called Omart, his girlfriend lives in Madrid, cause she plays the violin and works for the church. Another called Nikos, but I’m not sure after 2 days about his name. It started as always with the Marschrutka driver, after assisting to a punching action in Tblisi, here the man started to shout every second because of the trank door. In Abastumani, a really nice place, cosy with Rusian style houses, old sanatoriums and a hollywood style name at the top of the hill, we met Gio the ranger, who will be our helper for the GPS action. I was alone there with four georgian boys, the nightmare of every mother for its daughter?. Indeed it was great, we spend the whole way up stopping for little rest, which make it not so difficult and I learn a couple of new mushroms that are eatable and I found even the spanish ones (by that I mean the only ones I'm able to find myself, hear they are called fox-mushrooms). And after a big bag of mushroms we found the place to sleep, the hut, from where you could see the Abastumani observatory and where I was tried to be invited constantly to a "chota, chota" chacha, which I regreted one after another. Then one only know the words of "te quiero puta" from rammstein of Spanish, so we constantly said that and even called people so that I could tell them bad boys in georgian (Ajurebo). Anyway, as 3 of them were "drunked young guys without girlfriends" it was inevitable that they wanted to give a "try-o" to see if they could get something from me, by trying to blink their eyes at every possible eye-contact. But this time no church proposal arouse. By the way, the so called toillets here (vamos lo que el comun de los mortales denomina letrinas) are a hole in the ground and that want didn't had door, which is the best view you can have at some signaled events that take place inside them hehehe.


A short Visit to the cementery by Marta

After resting a little from coming from Tblisi, my neighbourg Zura called me for a walk. We met a pair of friends of him, with a Lada and they asked if we wanted to go to the local church and afterwards to the Park. First in the church, we almost parked inside, although it was a really tiny place. And they introduced me to a couple local ways of behaving, like that woman should enter after man or that they cross different and what means the fingers by crossing. We came to visit the grave of the father of the guy. It was almost dark, so it is impresive to see how beautiful the moonshadow in cementery was. Then we came to the big wheel, all with the auto and afterwards to the rollercoaster and the pirate ship. Yeah, I bet hear people could take the auto to the toilet too. The attractions are though really primitive and sound as if they where about to broke. I watched a film from Guillermo del Toro when I came back home:Devil's backbone.


Linda: country of marriage-craze

Yesterday Marta sat down with her notebook to write the annals of our Georgian stay history- this time on the topic "How many times we have received marriage (or other less decent) proposals up to now". After an hour or so of intense recalling we ended up with a list of 26 (!) cases. All that in just two months. A lot of choice, ain't it!

All that despite our age that shocks most of Georgians (so much! can't be! and not married!), despite the fact that I am vegetarian , and we're not drinking wine (so what do you do in restaurant then?), have starnge religous views (flying spaghetti monster church mixed with buddhist)don't want any children yet (most women have children very early here), like to travel around alone (and not stay at home to serve the husband) and will never perceive all my husbands wishes as coming from God!


Linda: Top of the pops with Sikvaruli modis!

This is the one that makes Marta and me break out in a dance in the middle of a street, in park, on bridge- anywhere we happen to be walking- singing out loudly "sikvaruli modis, sikvaruli shndeba, sikvaruli arahotesh tamtarteba daaaaaa" !!!!

This is the one that we spent hours on trying to learn and even understand lyrics.

This is the one that hightens our mood and therefore is being exploited at our home.

This is the one that we hear in marshrurtkas on different routes.

This is the one- Sikvaruli modis by Nino Chkheidze! :)

Linda: Surprisingly cheesy Georgia

A dirt-road village, of which I even do not know the name, somewhere near the border of Armenia hosts a metal container in some magical way brought here from France. And that container contains fully equipped French cheese factory, with Camambert and Roquefort ripening on shelves in neat rows.

This is in Georgia, where during these two months I have found no other cheese as simple salty and sour home-made cheese and a bit tastier sulguni or smoked variety of sulguni.

I asked the cheese master- is there any demand for these cheeses in Georgia? Yes, some people, who live in Tbilisi and Batumi.

The cheese masters some time ago had decided that to make their own business in Georgia, they need to learn the skills, so they borrowed money from all friends and neighbours who had at least some and invested it in going to France and working for a cheese factory there. In the factory they kept their eyes and ears open and in a year had mastered the trade and made contacts with equipment suppliers. Bought the container with good credit terms and brought it to Georgia. The first cheeses are getting ripe on shelves, but debt is still larger than any income generated. Their hope- the change of cheese prefferences of affluent Tbilisians.

I was generously given a present of this rotten cheese, and must say- truly enjoyed it!


By the way, I have a song of your age by Marta

Yes, the tipical order of questioning here:
1.How old are you?
2. Are you married?
3. So my (son, nephew, cousin's son, neighbourg, backer...) is your age.
Hehehe, I was inside the Post office and an armenian worker wanted that I meet tomorrow his son. So many "painful" years (except for the last 2)of not being loved and the solution was as easy as coming to Georgia. Better than in other places where they would like to buyme for camels or goats. I preffer being given "gifts" hehehe. Poor guy, his father don't mind his opinion, he wants to liiert him with the first stranger that comes his way hehehe. Anyway, I just thank it and tried to say that probly he has a nice son, but I'm I didn't come here for any deal, but for write a report (yuuhuuu!)


In Ushguli, UNESCO heritage's highest inhabited european town by Marta

I rent a Jeep with a girl from eslovaquia, who currently works at Brussels european commision, her boyfriend from czesch rep. and some hungarian guy. This jeep was a Lada Niva, so it was quite strech inside. And because of the road quality, you needed 3h for 65 km, up in one of the most remote parts of the caucasus. This towers in the town are amazing, and we went till the very base of the glacier, with a couple of imponent white mountains upon us. It was a tiring day but delightful. It seemed that there would be no free plane on Monday, but insted some cheap 25 Laris on Tuesday. It is too late so I decide to departure tomorrow at 5am. Ihad to say goodbye to my 2 nights, no english speakers but great understandings family. Irina, the mother and teacher of the town, invited me to some Matsoni(yogurt) and the father, who is also teacher and ingeneer, was amussed trying to find a Spanish channel on the satellite. Again the question of that the Basque Region people are Iberians rised up. I still don't know where I missed my history lessons, wheren the iberians not suposed to live near the mediterranean see? well it was really beautiful to see all those towers iluminated at the evening against the dark shape of tall mountains.


bathing in the river by Marta

I was yesterday in the river. I meet dito there. he has saw me now a great place to go and have a bath, so I will use it the rest of the stay here.


I saw a death snake by Marta

Yesterday Linda left to Tblisi and me and the two swiss friends went to see a lake, it was a great lake with nebel, it was like been in Sweden. We saw a death snake, black one, and I still trying to find out which sneak is this.


lazy day ends even lazier by marta

Today it rained. We went to the office, but with the boys from Swiss here we came back earlier, cause they promised again to cook for us. And then after vardzia we were all in the mood of just reading and laying. pretty good. At the evening I decided to explor the up town, cause I want to know more the city. It endet up when I saw a man, over the bridge, walking with his two asian sepherd dogs chatting with his friend. That could be nothing out of the blue if it weren't for a big detail. they were driving in the auto. So I thought, pretty much lazy endeed.


The Jehova witnessess are like mushroms by Marta

they appear where you less wait for them to be there. I was walking today to see the door of Sakashwilli summer palace, formerly used by stalin and the Romanov family. Where to nice mid-agged woman, came to me and said hello and showed me a book. I tried to scape, saying I don't understand although I could well recognized this poor ink impression that characterices those books. But it would not be so easly, they had one book more to show, where you could pick up your language this time. the only thing that they wanted although was to know my name and to present themselves, so I could continue with my matutine stroll.


If Sunday it is the day of the lord, what are we doing at the office by Marta

Don't worry, although some people work on Sunday here, we are just pushing further our blog to keep you fresh with our latest news. I was today in the Waterpark, because I decided not to spoil a marvelous sunnyday being in the internet. So I went to the so called termal bad, which ended to something similar to a green radiactive pond where many people where overloading the carry capacity of the place. At least the river was next to it, so I decided to have a bath there, though the pond it was so how sentimentally related to me, cause at my mothers Home town, we have kind of similar thing in bigger size. A what a memories of childhood, drinking some water from that river was risking 2 days of several diahorrea that it somehow skipped a couple of years. Even one year someone had the great idea of letting open the cleanning above the river so we could see how the place turned from green into deep brown. I miss going there to bath dough. WEll after my 3 km excursion not having it on the whole day I decided to ad one hachapuri more to my stomach when Dito called, because he was at the office with Linda and they kind of asked themselves where I was, due to I said linda I would be there in a couple of ours, but I used my spanish-georgian joker and it turned out to be 5 hours. At least I have ended with the balkan management paper. I cheated somehow, cause I skip a couple of pages but shhh, don't tell Linda, hehehe. Well I realized today by reading his blog that the american guy james was here for a couple of days while we were in the mountains, what a pity!


Home sweet Home by Marta

Today we got up and it was cleanning day, well before cleaning that linda took more seriously than me, I went to the shop and as sometimes my saviour german/georgorwellian book was sleeping at home a little bit more, so armed with my 3 numbers ori(2), chuti(5) and schwiteri?(7) I came inside different shops and buyed tomatoes, potatoes and toilette paper (I’m so getting used to this recycled carecing touch on my bottom that I even choosed to buy it in a store where there were only two left of this type and the others where normal) after always not beeing sure of how many laris should I get in return? Then back home, cleaning, bla, bla... I decided to go for water to the place after the big ruinous soviet building and when I was passing through the “bus hangar” then there mouth clatching american was there, wasn’t he suposed to be already out of town 2 days ago? How many days can this guy sleep at the train station? Well I just barely say good travel because he had a food almost in his already runing “marschrutka”. Coming back from the fountain, Artur was on the information place so I came to say hello, there was a couple of Schottisch people. Later on I show polnish ones and we introduced ourselves to them. I tried to continue the blog on the information shelter, but Artur was downloading classical music from Lisz. Not my day to “robbery” his internet so we came to the internet cafe where after a couple of hours I get nervous of how many time I spend there and not beeing jumping outside in the park. The bad issue was the somehow confusing news about russian troops starting to “touch me the member”(for spanish people) or to say it normal to be forcing the situation (or maybe are the georgian ones? I don’t now) but let’s see tomorrow. The old woman in the internet cafe is great, we have long chats without words, cause I don’t understand what she says but I find her really amusing. I forgot my glases so I had to do the same way twice. I came to the didi moedani, or the way how I tried to explain main square, but insted of one and a half hours, we had spend 3h in internet, so there was no trace of the polnish bunch. Then I thought in the minutes that would take linda to come up and meet me, I could buy me an ice cream to find out that linda had come up with the same thought. Sometimes I see this funny connections but not all the times I say Linda, cause then I enjoy them without sounding that that’s not true. Linda wanted to go home, but I’m more in my sauce being outside on warm summer nights so I decided to drove myself to the park, to see if I found the polnish people or dito, but all the kiosks in the park are yellow and I’m quite shy sometimes so I just tried to spot from the way. Seeing nothing I decided to go first further to the waterpark and enjoy the delightful situaltion of the people sitting outside. But when I was a couple of meters away from the entrance something exploded and that half of the city was dark. It remembered me how funny it was in a summer party years ago in spain when it happened the same and there was many people in party mood outside. And as you feel really safe in this place at night I decided to come back home on the darkness, just to look by that jesus (or his representant in the earth put in form of two iluminated crosses on the top of the hill) was having light and I instantly sarcastically thought “yeah, god lights my way”. At least not the whole city was dark, that was why the cross where still iluminated, cause I thought it would have being funny that they put more effort not to loosing the light of god, than to loosing the light of the people. Linda read me what we where doing on the eleventh so I got this mood of writing backwards what I remember.


Nothing better to do after a shoutting evening than drinking chacha for breakfast by Marta

After what it should be the last awful and woody sleeping night, because, who decided it is a great idea to sleep on a wood bench!! We got up and there was fire, already made by Jaba. When we where eating the mixture of pasta and fish with Sneackers and chicken soup for the breakfast (yes, riete de los desayunos con bacon) this peculiar yogi hunter came (hecho un pincel) clean after the night of alarm shooting, like always left his wife at home, maybe because as Dito confessed us later, he didn’t wanted the guys to fuck her, they could but fuck us instead?? So the Chacha (homemade vodka) ritual started even before 10h. I asked myself, that is even better that the people drinking Carajillos (cafe with a shot), cause they at least wait till 12h in Spain. In one of this Tamada tost, he tosted on us not to forget him. And I sarcastly commented Linda, that he should not worry to having a place on my memory, but that I would really prefer to put him on a place on my oblivion. Because remember is good but forget is sometimes even better. So we went down the hill, it was hot, so I take my t-shirt off, put my sun glassed and decided that no hungry or tiredness should bother me, cause the sooner down the better to eat. We made some photos with Jaba’s camera, cause my camera was tired of working from the scout camp. Sometimes makes strange things. Linda was our guide but as the others where the ones who knew well the area, they let her always get extraviate when the marks where not fitting her path with a malicious but sane laught in their faces as they used the silent sign of putting the index in front of their mouths to tell me I should not disturb their games, by loyaly giving advice to her that she was out of the way. In a point of the way, Dito, which really enjoys being (un cabroncete) as funny as the guy from “home and alone” when the robers are supposed to be back at his place, put as all out of the path to let Linda go. I tried to complain saying I have a contract owing my loyality to her and that she would not return but sit somewhere in the way and wait, as the previous days, so the situation ended on being funny of me. Because first he said, “shh, she comes” I tried to push myself against the hill not to be seen and after a minute the tree of them where laughting at me, then he was explaining we should be quiet and started to through me water, so I could not shout back and they where laughing again. Of course I took my little revenge throwing them water back. In the top of the mountain before, we had heard strange exploding noises, like the ones when throwing fireworks at popular events, but they tell that was arm training. It frightents me out a little, cause I’ve never heard an army training. Down, we become that after 5 days of a shortage of cleanniness, we will be the special gests on the local business meeting from the park.(yeah, I yo con estos pelos) So we came there and there was eaters paradise, after five days of porridge, I didn’t knew if I should start from the cake or from the chinkali. I think my stomach didn’t know it either and all that ended with me feeling dizzy in the toilette. But after doubting to take another UZARA shot, because I so I had half run out of the bottle, not being even on my first month, we where safe at home.

Linda: continuing to build cultural bridges with weapon-loving locals

The night was cool up here- felt my feet getting cold, but was too lazy to get up and look for socks, so continued my strange yoga-dreams of doing gomukh asana. 

Jaba’s alarm rang at 6:00, but did not disturb anybody’s sleep much. Eventually I got up first and went out for toilet- had a choice of a open-air pit toilet open to observation from the hut by missing one wall and the privacy offered by knee-high leafy plants wet with morning dew. 
Watched the sun rising behind clouds tainting them pink.

Marta woke up with desperate cry: “Oh, I am so cold! Linda, put your sleeping bag over me!” My argument that she has to get up anyway did not work, so I wrapped her in the warmth of two sleeping bags and went to fetch water together with Dito freezing our hands in the icy stream. 

We were ready to go after breakfast 7:00 + Georgian factor = around 9:00. Walking and marking was extremely slow- making the marks is a damn hard work especially here high up on the ridges in the howling wind. By observing the marking process and reviewing the left marks, I am still sure that Marta and me and in fact any hiker, who would come here for the first time, would lose the trail anyway. The team was lacking resources for proper marking- they can carry only limited amount of wooden poles and planks and on spot there are no materials useful for leaving marks available- no trees, no stones, just alpine meadows. Nevertheless the path itself was wonderful- through green meadows rich with flowers of all colours- orange, yellow, violet, white, pink. At moments felt unconditional happiness taking me over. Is happiness real only when shared? Then why does it visit me mostly at my solitude with nature? Nothing else ever makes me as happy.

We were singing a lot while walking- each to themselves- in our mother tongues (Dito preferring “we don’t need no education…”) and all together joining in our first Georgian song: “Chrvelo pepelo, caprindi nela, delia auranuli…”.

Started to admire Dito- he was the only one really putting effort in the work of marking and everything he did, he did with care and precision, not leaving anything unfinished and overall he is a most pleasant company with loads of positive energy, although he enjoyed making fun on behalf of us- I found it healthy to have a laugh about ourselves.

Finished marking the trail just above Amarati shelter and were looking for a place to settle for lunch when were met by another inhabitant of the park- shepherd nicknamed Krazana (Mosquito). He brought us some bread and khachapuri and never without it- home-made wine. Our lunch was prolonged by Jaba dutifully taking up the responsibility of park staff to maintain good relations with other park stakeholders and soon getting drunk, while we were layzily lying around in the sun and wind. It was soon obvious that a storm is coming, so the decision was easy- no Atskuri today- we’ll spend one more night in the park at Amarati shelter.

Krazana invited us to his summer home, where he currently lives with his wife- a mud floored wooden hut decorated by pages of Soviet fashion magazine pages from 70s in one room and cigarette block packaging in the other. Krazana’s wife Ljuba was a cute 20 year old girl- 15 years younger than him, from my point of view treated like a slave in this solitary hut of primitive conditions. Krazana boasted to be the ruler of the house and claimed that any work he utters is like an order from God to his wife. I did not interviene or express my diassproval of such an abuse of a woman, as i had no chance to find out how she feels about it or what are the conditions behind their marriage. Marta being more idealistic in her heart bluntly ignored the man and tried to communicate with the girl with short phrases in Georgian. I had sat down on Krazanas bed and at a point was told that I am actually sitting on a shotgun, which is under the blanket, but it is OK for me to continue sitting on it. The fiest of playing cards, eating fried potaoes and drinking wine and cha-cha with lengthy toasts, as always and singing stretched to 4 hours and included all the aray of traditional Georgian toasts: to God, to Georgia, to all the good people, to guests, to all the people that miss us, to all the people, whom we miss, on families and mothers and brothers and sisters and children, on our deceased ancestors, on the beauty of nature, on us getting married etc. 

Finally we were freed to go to the tourist hut, where Dito rushed to chop firewood and Marta delighted in clean toilet “you could eat in that toilet!”, which actually had all walls and a door. Soon heavy rain started so we moved indoors and had a rock-pop-reggea singing evening and when Jaba and Geo came as well- a Georgian language lesson by drunk Jaba.Tried to close the glassless windows letting in gusts of wind carying lots of water along with plastic bags and tape and chose to occupy more dry upper bunks for sleeping. 

Our peace was soon disturbed by loud banging on the door and yelling. Krazana. Marta went to open the door that had been blocked by a chair to keep it from slamming in the wind and was met by this sight: mighty storm raging, Krazana in his raincoat completely soaked with a huge fire in the background (later he explained, that he needed to add “some” wood to our fire, beauce he had needed light) and holding his gun. That did cause some distress in Marta, but Krazana ignored her and came in the hut filling all room with the heavy smell of alcohol and started conversing with Dito. Dito endured the conversation with grace and Krazana left to continue with his strategy of random shooting in the dark to scare wolves and bears away from his herd disoriented by the storm and thick fog. The alternative tool at his disposal was a huge metal bell, used for the same purpose of keeping wild animals away. So we had this concert of howling storm, gunshots and bell-ringing to which jaba added his part of juicy snorring. Try sleeping.
The situation began to seem hilariously absurd to me so I just couldn’t stop laughing while Dito kept singing Bob Marley songs and Geo whistled to the rhythm of Jaba’s snore.


At Qvabisnevi hut by Marta

In the Morning when we started walking, we weren’t sure if the guys had passed us or not. Afterwards, while being on the top of the hill Linda got Ditos sms saying they had a broken auto and that they would be at the hut at nine, but it was 8 and we where far from the hut by now. I’m feeling well but each time that we go up for a while remembers me how good would be to do continous exercise everyday and not try to go climbing Everest after taking part on a wedding fest. I should learn how to breath better.Ok, the views where stounishing but unfortunatelly the way to see mount Elbrus was covered from fog. At the end of our path, in the hut where some man, we now wanted to be together before meeting mountain mans that start with their chacha rituals and then ask us about our childrens, but those where waiting for Jaba, even there was one ranger, whinch is not an impediment here somehow to be the first with hang over in the morning. And this one was in a mourninfull mood. They say we should drink. We had already told (tropocientas veces) many times that we don’t drink, but this time I thought I wanted to laught a little about this chacha traditions without being really understood that I was laughting, so I came with the following funny tost by searching through the book: “sometimes it rains, sometimes it snows, at what time it is breakfast?” unfortunatelly, they where to drunk to appreciate my poetry or even I was not able to pronounce many ch an k together, so it was not understood and we let it go. Linda and I had much fun though about this japanish tost and we’ve decided to try to learn it by heart for some future tost oportunities (como diria el gañan: “a veces los de la ciudad venis al pueblo y pensais como que hablamos raro y a lo mejor os llevais una ostieja”). Dito, Giorgi and Jaba, appeared after two, while we were still deciding if we should do all the way down as planned or go with the men, not knowing if it would be another digit bunch when drunk. But it turned out that we where all in the mood to stay longer at the hut. Dito took a horse and offered me to ride a little, which I accepted, even after the previous strange experience cause I somehow trusted him more and cause I never have opportunity of being in a horse at home. Then I was offered to be on one horse myself and I had this two man wandering up and down the hill to take me with the horse. The last way was again funny but on the verge of doubt, cause the man took me a little further, and I was kind of trying to tell him it is further enought. But he wanted to tell me that all the cows there where his, and that he lived down there, and I was thinking, should I give you a pride for having cow or what. We turned back and the rest from the evening was just laught and eat and going to sleep. I had my legs full from mosquito bites, which is really annoying.

Linda: peaks, Japanese style toast and happy reunion

At 5:00 in the morning we were still alone in the hut. Marta was not eager to get up, I decided to practice my meager fire-starting skills with surprisingly good results. The breakfast of oatmeal porridge and condensed milk came out delicious and mint tea from the meadow as well. We purely enjoyed this perfect morning in mountains. Just before putting my backpack on, went to pee and realized that my menses have started unexpectedly, none of us having brought any female hygiene products with us. Ironically remembered GE activity on mooncup by our fellow glennies. Had to manage all the rest of the trek with what was available in my backpack. Girls, before you go to mountains try at least one day of menses without tampons or panty-liners and not much possibility to wash :).

At around 8:30 came to Mt. Rkinis Jvari and both went up to its extremely windy peak at 2439m decorated by a cross to delight in the view of immense sea of clouds below us with dark mountain ridges swimming in it and there received a message from Dito- one of the park guides with Jaba, that they could not come to Qvabiskevi previous day, as their car had broken down and they would meet us there at 9:00. There was no use turning back anymore so we decided to continue forward and hope that they will catch us at some point.

It was the most perfect trail today- of the kind that I like the most- traversing mountain ridges always staying high with constant panoramic views all around- west expanses of mountainous reality. 

Just before 12:00 came to Mt. Sametskvareo (the highest peak of the park) ranger shelter, just below a peak and found a park ranger, two locals, a boy and 3 puppy dogs there with their horses and cows. I had the impulse to stay at the hut at the first sight already- the location suited me perfectly and despite warnings that there is no water near this hut, there was plenty of it streaming down an ice/snow patch still not melted. The party at the hut turned out to be waiting for Jaba’ s group as well- were supposed to provide them with horses and were expecting them to arrive at around 14:00 so we sat down to eat and wait as well, weighting arguments for and against staying there for the night in our heads.

Shortly afterwards we were invited to join a table of food and of course- wine and cha-cha. exercised our alcohol refusing skills once more and when asked to toast, with the help of Marta’s phrase book came to this Japanese style universal toast in Georgian saying ”Sometimes it rains, sometimes it snows. What time is breakfast?”. Soon our long awaited party of three- Jaba, Dito, and Georgij (Geo) arrived and brought a lot of laughter, good mood, good music and fresh hazelnuts- just off the tree with them. We became very lively enjoying their company and telling our hiking adventure stories. It was decided- we stay here for the night.

I went to wash in the snow-melt stream and covered myself up just in time Dito appeared riding a horse. Marta was following him at slower pace, her horse being led by one of the locals. 

The Moldavian park ranger had had his norm of promiles and had started crying and decided to go back to Amarati despite his duty to help the trail- marking team. So the team was left without his help and without a horse, which was planned to be there to carry luggage and marking materials.

Before going to bed, decided to start early next morning and make all the way back to Atskuri the next day to end the trek on planned time.


Linda: bear tracks, Spanish revolution in jungle and mountain spirits

At 6:00 the demons had left the bodies of Tbilisi weekenders and they quietly got up, got ready and left. We were relieved to be on our own and had peaceful breakfast and I decided to boil the drinking water, Marta opted for putting up with diarrhea. 

The trail no. 2 was much more poorly marked- very soon we had doubts, which way to go. The one we chose, displayed an array of perfect bear tracks. Momentary analysis led us to conclude that they are at least 1,5 days old and we don’t have to drop to the ground and pretend dead.

Continued to follow the trail, but soon found no marking anymore. Off-trail and on our own responsibility once again. Decided to follow an old path that seemed frequented by people some time ago but abandoned recently- it went up all the time through a shady forest and this was our right direction- North-West and up to the peak of Qvazvinebi. 

When it got really hard for her to climb, Marta found solace in loudly singing Spanish revolutionary songs- a performance that reached its peak when we came to clearing in the forest just to find out that the path is completely overgrown by lush, gigantic dense nettle and other stinging and scratching and catching plant species rising high above our heads. I went first- it required a lot of imagination to figure out where the path might be somewhere in the mud below this ample biomass and anyway I was soon trapped hopelessly by the plants wrapped all around my limbs and belly, unable to move one step further. Marta raised her revolutionary volume to unpreceeded heights and me inspired by her fighting spirit, I let a battle cry out myself and started literally chopping my way through with my trekking stick. We joined our voices into powerful Queen songs sending chopped plant parts flying in the sky until with “we are the champions- we will be fighting till the end” on my lips I was out of the jungle next to a half rotten wooden hut, which had been marked on our made in USSR map produced in mid 70s.

Reaching the pass below Mt. Qvazvinebi I knew I want to go up to its peak as well as I knew that Marta would not, but as always she was ready to stay and wait for me. I ran up to the top, which was very close and easy, was met by cows up there and located our path to continue on- traversing around the mountain. We followed the trail, but it just kept going round the hill, with no sign of wanting to go down- where our hut was, so at one point we just went down in seemingly right direction.. and “the day was saved again… by… Powerpuff girls!”- we came to a marked trail soon leading us to Qvazvinebi hut. We felt like we had passed the exam of pathfinding after all these cases of getting off-trail, but always finding our way to our target.

It was great to settle in an empty hut without anyone in sight, although we were expecting Jaba and co to arrive any moment. Could not find any water in the vicinity of the hut- the riverbed beside it was dry, no matter how far I went down it, while Marta was having a nap (when her nose touched her knees while sitting on a porch, I had advised her to find a horizontal place to sleep on). Gathered firewood instead wondering- why would we need it if there is no water for cooking. Was sitting on the porch in front of the house being wrapped completely by white milky clouds reducing the range of visibility to few meters, listening if boys are not coming and sewing my pants and longed to stay in this place of tranquility for a week at least. Talked to mountain spirits asking for water and soon it started to rain and using all available means of collecting rainwater- including plastic bags we managed to gather all the water we needed for drinking, cooking and I even braved to have a rain shower- screaming cold but very refreshing. My negotiations with spirits regarding stopping the rain and letting us make fire were less successful, so our firewood arranged by Marta with mathematical precision was left unused.

Guys had not arrived when we went to sleep and Marta put benches behind every door fearing that otherwise she would not hear and wake up if somebody entered the hut. Lying on the bed afterwards she heard someone coming all the time. But those were only spirits.


Linda: mudsliding to Sahlvari

Woke up at 5:00 with no rangers in sight- they had just disappeared, boys were getting up and leaving. At 6:00 woke Marta and we were ready to walk at 7:00 being anxious that our path goes right next to djigit-Georgij’s hut- we had no chance to pass it without being noticed. Shortly before his hut some of the boys were waiting on the trail- seemed that the rangers had instructed them to make sure we pass here safely- we were very lucky to have them there and greatly relieved to finally leave the territory of this macho rule.

I climbed one of Lomis Mta peaks with Marta waiting for me below to catch mobile network and thank all the people involved in helping us the previous night and to Jaba confirming that we will meet him at Qvazvinebi hut in two days. Could see Greater Caucasus range from there- Mt. Elbrus and Mt. Kazbek. 

After the peak the walk was down, down, down, on the way met Georgian campers, who warned us about the trail being very muddy and muddy it was indeed- sticky, slippery ankle-high mud all over, turning our boots into big and heavy mud piles. Could not decide- is it mud-walking or more of a mud-sliding. Trail was well marked here except for where we crossed a river and the only obvious pass ended in the river itself. Was not sure if we are really supposed to walk on the riverbed so went up and down it several times in search of trail marks- had to be careful not to loose it this time, because our good map had fallen out of Marta’s backpack during one of her mudsliding rides. Down the river seemed to be the right direction and soon Marta walked through the water paying no attention of her boots getting completely soaked- enjoying the wet-boot fun, while I was skeptical- she will have to walk in wet boots for several days to come and that is a true suffering.

Even more fun than walking through a river was trying to push our way through a tropical jungle like overgrowth of large-leafed plants rising dense above our heads with always-present mud under our feet.

On the way, when lifting my backpack, heard a sound of torn cloth- my heavy-used trekking pants had given in and now I had stylish sexy torns on my butt. Somehow, this new style did not feel suitable for walking around this djigit land, so tried to make a temporary repair with tape.

Reached our aim- the Sahlvari hut to find out that this night we will be sharing it with 10 lads on holidays from Tbilisi. Having learned a lesson from the previous night- stayed together and away from them, as politely as possible. Overall they seemed nice and even helpful. 

Was delighted to wash myself and my clothing in a river- after two days of heavy sweating and mud-bathing. Took water from the river, but reading the information on Marta’s water purification tablets realized that they are useless for us, because are meant to keep fresh water that is already clean- Marta just never read the information. Remembered from my previous climbs in Caucasus the bad image of Caucasian rivers causing diarrhea to thirsty mountaineers drinking from them.

Made dinner of rice and fish, refused invitations to join cha-cha drinking and sat down to repair my pants. I should have known better by now, that cha-cha can turn even the nicest persons into yelling, rude bastards. Try sleeping with a bunch of drunk men shouting at the top of their voices, trying to perform top of the pops of Georgian music, starting fights, smoking inside the non-smoking hut, trying to guess, what kind of bright ideas will come to their minds next. 


The story of a Djigit love by Marta

We woke not so early as planed, after I had announced the day before to everybody that was still up on the fire bon that we were grateful for their hospitality and that they would never ever see us in their lives cause we where leaving before they could think of getting up. What is something common to me, talking too much. We got lost and I was about to collapse many times on the way, only the fear of being find by a wolf, and ending worse than the Israeli left by his wife kept me to reaching my destination. That and a bunch of deathly sugared sweets. Also that the mighty storm was prosecuting us. We so a sheppers hut and from there we could see a church, so we imagined that our hut would be after that hut. But we didn’t counted with the factor that the Georgian and English maps are different, end only the English send you to djigitlandia-lawless territory of putting candels out and killing sheeps as a pass time activity. Well in the so called hut (tambien conocido como chabolo inmundo en castellano) there was a shepper. I had not t-shirt on but just my sport underware, because of the effort already made, so as I saw him appearing I put it immediately. Well it started raining and he was fair enough to offer us cover for the rain. We stayed and he offered we could stay as long as we needed even to sleep there, but we told him we would go to the hut. He was discouraging and in the middle of the way his friend was there. They both came with us, first we had to visit the church, where I had to cover my head with a militar long coat from the man, while I was hopping not to need vinegar to was my hair afterwards. They destroyed the “young-sheep killers and knife showers” party by drinking all their chacha. They offered they would show me where the water place is and with a horse one of them and me where back to the church. There was raining so we stoped at the church. There afterwards came the other man. They didn’t treat me bad, apart from the uncomfortable passing me the arms over the shoulder, but I’m not stupid and when the second man came I went out of the church entrance where I was covering from the rain and I gave three times the two words I know, “water” and “here”, as they didn’t answered or way saying that we had to wait for the end of the rain or kind of that the water was further I told them I don’t understand and I went back walking. It was better so, one thing is one little ride and the other going to much far away alone. It was a savvy thing, because afterwards I became for Linda the translation of the “romantic” encounter that this midday cowboy wanted for me while putting out the candels and following the mountains rules where every familiar relationship should be through into the oblivium. But with Djigit words of bringing me back “safe??”. Well, poor Linda, being the only knowing Russian, had more strange and dangerous conversation with the too dubiouse educated mans, while calling the Rangers, that showed off kindly with two daisies, at an our when we could have been killed a couple of times already, sit themselves and started “chacha-ing”. Our beloved saviours!!!

Linda: real djigit experience on Mt. Lomis

Our trek began by getting up late, me forgetting my phone in the tent and getting lost very early in the trail. Pretty soon we saw no trail markings anymore, as the paths are truly poorly marked and we did not have any usable map for the beginning of our trek, not speaking about a GPS device. I knew we were off-trail, we were lost, nevertheless I felt safe and orientating by compass and surrounding peaks knew that we are going the right direction. First we were following cow tracks, then the cows themselves, discussing whether they might have inbuilt GPS antennas in their horns, but finally decided that cows have never been renowned climbers and took the lead ourselves. And soon were happy to do that. Marta experienced some difficulties in the steep upwards climb under scorching sun and lagged behind a little bit, constantly apologizing for it, although from my point of view, she really managed well. 

Was filled with joy, when I finally came to a crossing with a marked trail and knew that now we were close to a hut. I ran up a small peak nearby and was met by a grand view of mountain scenery. Felt immensely thankful for the chance to live in this beautiful, beautiful world. This is why I came here- for these moments! 

Clouds gathered and thunder gave its warnings and when Marta arrived, we decided not to eat but keep walking while it was not raining yet and soon reached a shepherd’s hut and the shepherd himself just in time to be under the roof with first rain drops. Waited for the waterfall outside to stop feeling strangely pressed by the man in his mid-40s to stay in his hut for the night. At a moment when the shepherd was out looking after his cows, sneaked out trying to avoid him keeping us back, but on our way met him anyway and he started following us our little company soon enlarged by his neighbor, both of them trying to keep us from going to the park hut, saying that it will be dirty there (could not imagine it could be more dirty than his hut), that there are teenagers there and we should not disturb them and that actually- they have everything we need in their huts. We still continued on, visited a hilltop church on the way and indeed found 10 local teenagers boiling recently killed sheep meat (there is a tradition to sacrifice sheep to god on church celebrations). The boys were quite nice- cleaned the floor of the hut when we arrived, freed two bunk bed for us, were very polite and spoke some English shyly. Very much contrasted to the shepherds, who soon commanded the boys to put up a table, started drinking the wine brought by boys, pressing us to drink, shouting loud toasts and by becoming more and more drunk, became more and more rude and annoying boasting to be real djigits. I tried to escape their attention by starting to write in my diary- saying I have to do some work, which ended by one of them- Georgij pulling out his knife and smashing it into the bed planks 7 cm away from my thigh- he had promised Marta to show, where to find water and said “Do you know what it means if djigit leaves his knife like this? No one will dare to touch you while I am away!” I smirked to it blankly and he continued “You don’t want it? I can take it away!”. For God’s sake- leave it and go.
I don’t think Marta is really safe going for water with him, but at least his knife is here. 

I was left alone for a while and boys called me out to show me the most perfect rainbow I have ever seen in my life- brightly coloured full semicircle on the backdrop of rain illuminated by sun- breathtaking sight.

Marta came from her ride walking and without water, but safe- in a way she is lucky not speaking any languages known by the shepherds so she is unaware of much of what is going on. Asking boys for the water was a much better option so Marta went for a second try with them and came back triumphantly carrying a 1,5l of water at the same time being artistically covered with mud from head to feet, because the trail to the water had tuned into a mudslide. With a big smile on her face she announced: “Washing today- forget it!”. 

Our djigits came back bringing a third one, by the nickname of “Chechen” and they continued their drinking feast in the hut, while we sat out by fire and cooked some food and tea interrupted by frequent shouts from the window “Linda, you have to come to us!”, which I kept ignoring.

So it continued all afternoon and at one point I was sitting alone by the fire and djigit- Georgij came, sat down beside me and said in his loud, machoistic style: 
G: “Tell Marta she has to come with me”
L: “Where?”
G: “I will take her to the church.”
L: “Why?”
G: “To put out the candles.”
L: “Why?”
G: “I am a djigit and I will tell you straight- I want to take her hand and tell her, that I am a man and she is a woman and we are in the mountains….”
L: “Marta will not come. What would your wife think about it?”
G: (getting agitated) “Wife! Where is your husband! We have families, but we are in mountains!”
L: “Marta will not come. I will not let her go.”
G: “If you tell her to come, she will come. I give you the djigits word to bring her back here!”
L: “I will not tell her ”
G: “But I want her to come!”
L: “You can’t always get everything you want!”
G: ”But I want! I want you to tell her!”
L: “I will not let her go.”
G: “But I WANT!”

Luckily others came out so this never-ending discussion deciding Marta’s destiny was interrupted. Nevertheless I was constantly approached by the other, a bit more shy shepherd by reminders that I should come to his hut in the night, if I don’t feel comfortable here, him constantly grabbing my arm and trying to kiss my head and hands and me fighting back. 
I had already decided to contact park administration- sent them SMS telling that we have some difficulties with drunken locals and had received a reply that rangers will be sent to the hut and should arrive “soon”.

The evening by the fire ended by Georgij coming out of the hut- finished all alcohol, I suppose and asking me to come aside to tell me something. I replied by telling to him to speak in the presence or others or not saying it at all, which was a bit too sharp, as it made him madly angry and he started to shout and threaten- “Shut up, yourself! You will see- wolves will come to you at night and you will see what kind of wolves those are going to be! Remember- my friend here is Chechen and I myself am a Chechen. Rangers! Ha! You will se what rangers will come!”. Boys decided to intervene and tried to lead this angry, aggressive drunkard away, while he continued to yell at us in Georgian. We hid ourselves from his view in the hut and as it was already getting dark got ready to sleep, but so that we are ready to leave in seconds in case of need. After being threatened and with no sight of rangers sleeping was a difficult task. 

At around 1:00 in the night the unlockable door of the hut was slammed open and two men with heavy steps came in bringing us…. flowers. The rangers had finally arrived. Levani was on their phone: “Girls, you are in the wrong hut! I was very worried when the rangers reported that the tourist hut is empty and I could not phone you anymore!”. We had passed the right tourist hut, by being on the unmarked trail and had come straight to the peak of Lomis Mta and to the old hut, which was not used by visitors anymore, exactly because of problems with locals! We thanked Levani and rangers for their care and help and the rangers promised to stay the whole night and sat down with the boys….… to drink cha-cha.


Using belts on my car?no way I'm here the law by Marta

While waiting for the marschrutka two good and new autos stopped. There was this kind of gigolo more than 35 fatty man inviting us to bring us to our destination at Qvabiskhevi where we where going to see the scouts and camp for the night. We accepted because he was the local chef of the rescue service. He was afterwards saying that we had to with him, that he would show us vardzia, and arrange the meal and the hotels for us, but we kept on insisting that we had our plans and we could do that other time. I was putting the belt, when Linda had to translate me, that as he was the chef of the region, he was like the police, so nobody needed to use that on his auto. Yeah, law giving example! In the park we got breakfast, we join an action about cleening that Linda and me finded an absurdity introduction to cleaning, when we where at the river that was (lleno de mierda, como una pocilga) pretty trashy. And she stopped us and send us to kleen the mountain “toilettes”, some how disgusting, but at least I had a glove, and there is people that work putting their hands inside porks so….Then the typical game I should have had in my first youth and not when I was playing with boys 10 years younger than me, but I still choosed to kiss hehehe, on the chick don’t worry, on the chick. Where there were three funny momments: this shiffle cheffin, RITA “sherry bobbings”, always hiting baddly on boys chick and somehow on their honour too, but still they almost didn’t hit her back, as hard as she did (impressive to seeing her in the church afterwards being the most devote, maybe following put the other chick rule??), then the boys asking aus how old we where end sounding really deceipted with this too old chicks, hehehe and then forgetting our age againg by trying to declaire themselves in georgian an azerbaian. Well at least we made a friend. I really got on well with Fahrid, he would be a great man one day, he was always a good translator to us, really helpful, and calm (he was also the only one helping us to deal with the disgusting rests of live, so that gives him 1000 mini-points). As he could both azerbaian and georgian, we decided to follow him to an azerbaian lesson about body language, that for them might be enough, but for me was little neew, although, I had funs with the games, and I realiced I was not good acting. The guy teaching was pretty much into america saving us because they are the good guys, because of what we so in his curriculum, but yeah, at least it is a chance of education for many people here so. “ Americanos, os recibimos con alegria... olé mi madre...olé mi suegra y olé mi tia”.

We had to talk to the ranger to say hello, we was in some fish-chacha party (“merendola”) with a pope and a men in black. Yuhu, the party of my life. Of course we didn’t stay to tell them a good night story. After the dinner they had some party, there was this girl singing, really good, but the only think I could think about is to rent her for getting rid of any animal trace in 30km arround while we would be trekking. Although I deeply wanted to meet “Yoggie and bubu”

The church place was great, cause you could see many mountains with the moon light, but the moon was not already at sight and we where sitting on the verge of a clifft, next to the church. I went inside the church, and it was impressive how they recited all this georgian rituals, it sounded good, I asked if like the churches are still open here at night all if all knew what to do, like in a kind of first aids training for church rituals.

Linda: remembering my scout times

Alarm rang every 10 minutes between 7:00 and 8:00. We were finally on the road at 9:00 waiting for marshrutka to Qvabiskhevi. In 15 minutes a posh Toyota stopped- “where are you heading to, girls? Hop-on!”. Hesitatingly- trying to figure out, if he would expect a payment from us for this private taxi service, we got into his car and soon understood, that this guy would never ask for money, he wants to show off instead- his car, his job as the boss of local rescue service “I was shown on all international TV channels- BBC and CNN, when there were big wood-fires around here during the war- I was managing firefighters!” He was very eager to take us to Akhaltsike or Vardzia instead of the park entrance of Qvabiskhevi: “I am calling the park director to tell him that today you are not going to the park!”. Convinced him to drop as at the park gate anyway and received a promise “to chop off heads of anyone who does any harm to you”. So, we have a strong backing now. The ages are quite confusing here- for us he looked like 40, but said to be 32. People here do look older than I am used to and they always perceive us to be younger than we really are.

We were warmly received at the scout camp- in the first 5 minutes offered a spare tent, food and drink and participation in any activities. Joined the so-called “environmental action” of scouts. 

Well…. we were supposed to clean the entrance of the park- all covered in litter, especially a small river, flowing along. After half an hour of selective rubbish picking and still leaving all the pink plastic bags cheerfully floating in the river, the group leader- Rita (a power loving girl of around 20, enjoying commanding this group of boy- scouts and two foreigners by using her whistle sparingly) exclaimed: “OK, enough, we cannot clean everything” and we moved on to “clean the forest”, sarcastically commented by Marta “I tell you- this is a Sherry Bobbins action.”
In the forest picked up some more PET bottles and cigarette ends, threw some fallen branches down a hill- hardly any of them reaching the destination- camp-fire place and came to path, used by campers as a toilet, obviously disliking the plastic-walled pit toilets on the camp ground. Rita commanded the boys to clean up, but it was too disgraceful for them. I volunteered and Marta joined me, followed by our lovely translator Farid- to cover up the mess with leaves and soil, others looked at us with sheer disgust. 1,5 hour before the scheduled finishing time all cleaning stopped and in the middle of a forest still full of garbage games started. By repeating “chiteli, kviteli, shaui, lurgi”, we learnt names of colours (”red, yellow, black, blue”), received countless kisses and some slaps, personal questions about our relationships and age and even if I would take one of the boys with me to Latvia, both were approached by gallant “I love you”s presented in Georgian and Azeri by standing on one knee, I got a present of a friendship wristband and temporary gift of a sweaty t-shirt of a teenage boy-scout. Rita used any possibility given by the game to slap the boys mercilessly and painfully. Our actual age was again a very disappointing factor to them. 

After lunch went walking alone along the supposed path of out tomorrow’s hike, took my diary to write, but instead by feet just kept walking on and on un till I got a glimpse of the bliss of being alone in marvelous nature surroundings. Heaven was pregnant with storm, but I still did not want to return. Only the warnings on thunder turned me back and soon it started raining huge warm drops.

When raining stopped joined a body language workshop done by Imran- SALTO certified trainer from Azerbaijan. Young, ambitious and talented. The workshop was quite good, despite our lack of knowledge of Azeri. We were frequently called forward to demonstrate and learned some games, which I found to be good exercises for experiential learning.

In the evening went to say “hello” to the park ranger at the ranger hut and ask advice on the trail. but ended up toasting cha-cha together s\with a priest, ranger, who looked like a bear-like ex-prisoner and a typical Georgian “man in black” at a table crammed with freshly caught river trout, soft home-made cheese and onions. They raised glasses of cha-cha and we ate cheese and all together laughed at Marta’s tries to communicate with the help of her phrase book. On our leave agreed to meet in the morning for instructions and were presented a large chunk of cheese.

Returned to the camp for evening fire and there- in the middle of hill forest with these Georgian teenagers- I saw some of the most amazing performances- a girl, who could have sang on an opera stage and cool breakdancers showing off their perfect moves on the wet forest floor. 
After performances and games that included me dancing sitting on shoulders of Rezi, him trying not to step off a tiny piece of paper, we were invited to join a group of people going up a hill to a 8th century church- as this was the night of St. Peter and Paul. Hiked up in darkness on a slippery trail and was awe struck again- the breakdancers in their stylish sporty clothing and their only a bit older leaders now converted into priests and made a mass all by themselves with all the rituals- chanting large chunks of Bible, burning incense and candles, singing chorals, saying prayers, crossing themselves- all in a setting of this ancient stone church, lighted by candles and decorated by numerous small icons. I stood there, closed my eyes and got carried away by a cleansing energy. Stayed merged with the energy and found myself crossing with 3 fingers- the Georgian style. 
In front of the church sat in a row above a cliff drop observing the mystical mountain scenery lighted by bright moonlight.


workshop on what to do if your trekking partner disappears in a forest by Marta

We were talkking about the maps, as we would later realice ourselves, that maps where pretty crappy to be your only option to rely on. As I said, those should be the ones giving for free, not to let poor alone trekking inconscients on their own luck on this park, cause then they would have to go to fish them (they told us a story about a couple of israelies being lost, and that the woman took the fly back and from israel, called to say that his husband was lost for two days in the park. They found him lost and totally drunk!! Madre mia, como se puede ser tan hijo de puta, igual la mujer tenia un amante o algo porque vamos que penca la tia) But improvements have to be done by at least putting hours, altitude differences or where to find the water (not even at the map, cause in the hut where we had a missunderstood there was water, but not indicated, well ,to be faire in the english version they deliver you to another hut with chacha locals than in the local version, hehehe, somehow really stupid from the agency)

I wanted to watch the videos on the park at that day, cause I thought it would be good to see how they could offer a general mind of the park before entering it, at the ende it was 4 videos in a row, but I think they where really good, at least better as I expected them.

I learned from Linda the good option of really write what we would eat the next whole week, but I was just thinking on adding more chocolate and chorizo, yeah, I bet I would die on a coronary desease if I still thinking like that.

Linda: getting ready for trekking

Did not even try to arrange hot water, so had a cold shower- it is simply easier to get used to cold showering.

At office had a meeting on new trekking maps that the park wants to create and print for the use of individual visitors. Remembered the best trekking maps I had seen and used in my life- the Japanese ones, but was realistic of what is possible here. In the end we came up with quite a comprehensive list of items that should appear on the map and I was trying to explain the importance of putting a GPS coordinates table on the back of it as well- for me it is the first thing I try to find before I go trekking. Having a GPS device with the points already in it saves a lot of situations, where you would get lost otherwise- an important issue, as the trail marking in the park here is far from perfect. Visitor Management administration wants to create a possibility for individual trekkers to go in the park on their own and a good map is the first precondition to it, still there is much to be added to make it really work- improving trail marking, publishing trail descriptions etc. 

Decided to watch the informative and educational video material of the park- movies about the park, its flora, fauna and landscapes that gave us a good insight of what we might expect to see and experience in the park, but when I think about the possible target audience of these videos- the general park visitors, they could be made more concise and appealing, less “scientific”, ‘cause even me being greatly interested in the topic I got bored at some moments.

At home cooked a veggie meal labeled “typical vegetarian” by Marta and eating on the roof terrace beside our door enjoyed the change from fried and heavy food a lot. The Spanish blood in Marta demanded for siesta afterwards while I did our trek route and food planning.

Shopped for all the items needed for hiking and late at night we were finally ready to hit the trails of the park next morning.


Keeping in touch with your family when you are on your south project by Marta

We were giving spare postcards on our office made some time ago from some promotional porpouses, so happy that I was , I accompained Levan and Natia to the city, to visit again the post office.Great excursion, entering this huge and empty soviet place with 4 people siting on the corner just chatting and many cactus and plants. I asked for some stamps to Germany and Spain, when I saw her coming, she produced some plastic folder with all the differents staps of georgia. My old stamps collectionist feelings came up to me, wanted to have them all, and my practical side of view was asking it self, why this woman needed to fish every time the desired prices from this mess, instead of separating the stamps through prices. But the best was that she had a fax there, probably as a reminder that the future is coming, because she needed an ABACUS, to calculate how much money I should pay her.. an ABACUS (yo alucinaba en colores, se me estaba haciendo el culo pepsicola de tanto gusto, por favor, si hay calculadoras que valen 1 euro y aqui tienen un fax).

In the tourist office, and after having decided our trekking plan, we met an american guy, who had a pretty big contact with the chacha culture at his lunch time (I’m happy I have succeded in not being pushed to drink alcohol) so that turned with he dancing with Lisa in the tourist information. Appart from his insistance in putting his cool music, always followed by a kind of mouthing sound like mouth clatching, that time to time he repeated, it was really funny try to talk to my mother from the skype, when she thinks I’m kind of in hells land, and this “mad drunk” coming and shouting something at the screen (wasaaaaaaap!). My poor mother leaving the skype by being upset cause she thought almost that I was on drugs or something like that and me trying to explain her that this man having overcome his drinking limit was not extendable to me being in any bad situation or actitude, that I just couldn’t avoide this man to come inside the room while he was drunk cause I was at the tourist information. Indeed, that was pretty much the situation when you realice how bad alcohol can be to some persons, cause this guy is actually an expert on renewable energy, who was involved on the las Johannesburg summit in 2002.

Linda: swing dancing in a glass house

Went to office and were met by no attention to our side at all, although on the previous day we had agreed (according to our understanding) to finalize our discussion on the Visitor Management Plan draft. After some hours of us still waiting Natia and Levani left for internet café- as the office internet is more off than on. Said that will be back in 30 minutes, the Georgian factor enlarged it to 2 hours. After their return hungry and tired of waiting I finally asked- when can we finish the discussion, and they were kind of surprised- Oh, you want a meeting now! OK, let’s agree on a meeting in 1 hour. Getting to know the working style specifics…. 

In meeting discussed our field-tour in the park- a 6-day trekking round along al the main trails of the park. Agreed that we will spend one day in a scout camp and join some of their environmental and educational activities, then trek on our own for few days and then meeting up with a trail marking team- Jaba with guides and finish the trek together with them. Agreed as well, that we will submit the final draft of our work on August 21, which also corresponds to the date, we should submit our interim report to GLEN and also happens to be my Name’s Day. That gives us 5 weeks of work- 1 week trekking, on-site observations, 4 weeks writing. 

A possibility to use Tourist Information Center’s internet connection was arranged with its manager- Artur, whom we had already got to know on our first day here. In the TIC met Artur and 3 of his friends having a lot of fun with an intoxicated American, whom we had already seen this morning in our office registering for trekking in the park in a much more sober state. ended up in a situation where Marta was trying to decipher the html code of our future blog, the American and Arthur sharing their love of jazz music, Artur showing off his amazing skills of being able to draw with both hands simultaneously, and the American trying to teach me some complicated, but rather drunk swing dance steps in the middle of this glass house of TIC. The Georgians seemed to enjoy this spectacle. Dancing two days in a row- not bad for a town without a disco. Long after expiry of the working hours of the TIC, me and Marta decided that it would be polite to leave and let Artur go home, so we moved out to the porch in front of TIC, but none of the party, including Artur, showed any interest in going home, so we had a new situation- me sitting there outside reading a letter in Marta’s computer, the American falling asleep in sitting position next to me and the Georgians feeling lost- what to do with this foreigner, who insists of camping in the town. 

I escaped to internet café for another round of Skype talks, but when I returned, everybody was still there and the American had one-sidedly decided to spend the night at our place. So he followed us as we walked home until by the bridge I openly told him, that this is not such a good idea (I would be happy to host him if he had not drunk that much, but arriving at night to our boss’ place with intoxicated stranger was not at all appropriate).


Disco-Disco partisani by Marta

We meet an israeli guy on the morning wich appeared again in the afternoon in one of our intersted visits to the tourist information, a place that need more of both things that give it a name, but rouled by the simpathic Artur and his classical music and jazz taste: Quoting him again: “hearing music, yes, you can go to the church for that” . Well, we ate at the office, there I discovered a delicious green sauce that they do with plumbs, how I hate them, but how delicious is this sauce with bread. The building were whe work is kind of comfy, but I would find more light and things for the kitchen, it does not reseamble the kitchens in Freiburg, but at list there is a kitchen, not like in Spain. But we always miss tea bags here and I would prefer to drink my bad nestcafe café with milk.

We were also in the post office at 5, but it was already too late, although the man offered I could call from directors office. But I don’t feeled myself so important to visit a director that day. So I decided to give a try to georgian movil cards and postcards.

We went to a restaurant with Matan, he explained somehow how is life in kibbuts and I was remebering the story of Jakob, visiting one of them when his companion said they could go to Jerusalem with his aunt, but then the aunt didn’t appeared and his companion suggested to hitch-hike by the words “ if I say run, just run, ok?” or the story of Steffi in this love and friendship parade through the dessert, where the rest of the groups had one armed man with them. And afterwards an improvissed disco was made for us.

Linda: long meeting and spontaneous dancing

A meeting day at the office. If the meeting is agreed to start at 10:00 previously, then it starts around 11:00-11:30 here- we are learning to take the Georgian factor in account.

Met Israeli named Matan in the office planning his trek with the help of Levani, before he left I had the urge to run after him and arrange to meet up in the evening- I am in the mood of meeting people, getting to know them, sharing experiences, and I was sure that he would be happy to have some company, as he was traveling alone.

Discussed my idea of the trekking route Marta and me could take ourselves, as well, part of it is not possible due to the poor condition of the trail.

At the meeting were introduced to some of the key staff of the park- Natia and Levani, whom we already know, Jaba- Tourist service manager in the Kharagauli side of the park (Marelisi Visitor Centre), and local interns doing their study internships in the park. Discussed the Visitor Management Plan draft and had loads of ideas and discussions on needed improvements and tasks to be done by us. 

In the middle of meeting had a lunch together with all the staff present including the director of the park, causing confusion among them with my vegetarian ways and clumsily spilling tkemali sauce- an event that spurred a discussion about Ayurveda between me and Marta, that quickly evolved into a discussion on different aspects of alternative ways of thinking and spirituality. With her physics background she is a stern defender of the scientific worldview, while my life experiences have led me to feel that there is much more behind the scientifically proven reality and science itself is becoming very close to a religion- the opposite extreme ends on the science-spirituality scale are joining together to form a circle. We still agreed on many things and this is a topic open for further exploration by us.

Tried our luck at post office, which reminded a long abandoned factory entrance room and appeared to be closed, although we were led in by an elderly man, who discussed something with a lad behind iron bars in Georgian, out of which I understood that he is trying to arrange a possibility for Marta to make international call from post directors office. In the end no services were arranged and we were left without any postcards, stamps or international calls. In fact, there is no place in this “tourist oriented resort town” to buy postcards.

Sent my local contacts to my embassy, family and also to our post-card exchange partners- although we might have to make the post cards ourselves.

Good news for Marta- the medicine she forgot in a fridge in Riga will be brought to Borjomi by Matthias, when he comes to visit in August. Still that leaves some more fridges in central Europe containing her forgotten medicines.

Met Matan in the evening and sharing Imereti khachapuris we listened to his stories on life in Israeli kibbutz and the overall Israeli worldview, which could be summarized in this idea “Israel is the focal point of the religions of the world and as such instantly experiences the effect of any tension in the world”. A man from neighboring table presented us with wine as a thanx for speaking some English to his son. None of us drinks wine, but Matan tried it- not to insult the well meaning giver. The dinner ended by Marta, me and the owner lady of the place breaking out in a dance to a Russian pop-song. Some compensation for Marta, who had been despaired of having no rock-bar or disco in this town to hang out. We award this place 4 stars- for good food and a chance of spontaneous disco.


Linda: tourist fun in resort town

Decided to give a try to the complicated system of heating up water for shower, after unsuccessful joined efforts with the grandfather of the house, ended up warming the water in two buckets, which was enough for us both to shower and wash our clothes.

Decided to study park documents that we need to acquaint with do to our project task in the Mineral Waters park- the pulsating heart of this resort town boasting fancy kitsch lighting at night (imagine a small cliff lighted by changing colours and a deer made out of Christmas tree lights standing proudly on the cliff), and various fun- rides at day- Boeing flight simulator, wild west train ride, chance to do a lot of bumping into each other with electric cars. There are also new, but already non-functioning cinema in the park and a state of the art design brand new swimming pool, that is not functioning yet, due to water heater system failure, and, of course, the famous salty, warm mineral water in unlimited amounts- very good for health and in Marta’s opinion of very bad taste. Me having drunk bottled Borjomi water since my childhood I enjoyed this somewhat more concentrated and heated up version of the drink. Settled down in a wooden tea-house to read the papers and spent there many hours reading, falling asleep, waking up again and reading. I am amused how Marta is able to fall asleep in the most strange places and situations and does it several times per day usually preceding it by saying “I need to rest for 5 minutes”, and then I know, she’ll be away in the other reality for an hour at least.

Back home discussed accommodation fee with Natia and agreed on 500 GEL (approx. 250 EUR) or 250 GEL each per month, which is 3 times more than I paid for my not-shared room of incomparable living conditions in Riga. This “global south” is somehow expensive :)
Agreed also that we are free to host visitors in our room- as many as we want as long as we and the family all feel comfortable with it. So, please, come and visit us in Borjomi!

The fruit are great here- subsisted on cherries and watermelon today.

No possible to call to Europe by Marta

After two days of unsuccesful tries to showers with cold water, which I really hate, unless is under the sun. I came the third day to see if it was warm water, but there was no water at all. So somehow the man heated a buck of water and then I was telling Linda that we would have to use the buck on the floor and water ourselves as if we where flowers, when I realized the man had heated two bucks and I only needed 1/4 of it. Was I not so good at cleanning or it was too much water?. I thought about how much water do we loose every shower, and I felt that we badly needed a shower on the courtyard with some wood cabinet and the chickens running arround.

We went to read the documents in the park. I wanted to run on the rollercoaster, because it remembers me the 7 peaks roallercoaster that used to be in Madrid Amusement park, when it looked like a clustered 60’s saturday’s and festivities reunion park and not another commdemned thematic park, but doing it alone does not make fun, so we just sat, make siesta and readed.

I decided it was both time to find a cabin to talk to my parents and try to attempt again to make a conversation with locals, so I went to the promenade in the park and I took a old lady who was sitting there for asking where to find a cabin, as spected, we entered on a nonsense circle of georgian words, that ended with a 20 old boy, appearing from somewhere and asking me in a very good english if I needed any kind of help. “I need a cabin to call spain”-“it is not possible” I understood there is no cabin in Borjomi, although I so old grey ones in Tblisi and linda said in soviet times the people went frequently to the post, so hopless for the day, I postponed one day more my “london calling”.


Linda: first office day

Woke up late and hurriedly got ready for our first day at the office.
The notorious Borjomi water supply problem manifested itself by leaving Marta with a mouth full of toothpaste and nothing to rinse it with.

Vaniko, Natia' s husband drove us to the park administration office and there we were left on our own and went to explore the outdated park museum, which needs an urgent change of exposition- the animals in chloroform cans have completely lost all colour and look like ghostly creatures never seen the sunlight- but it still provides information of park's flora and fauna.

Later Natia and Levan (the other of two visitor centre employees) presented the park' s Visitor Management Plan draft on which we will have to work and finalize a proper planning document. Our three main issues to focus on will be:
1) sustainable tourist product development
2) quality management
3) carrying capacity of the park.
And they would be happy if could also produce an event calendar and communication and marketing plan for the park.
Serious and ample work. Aren' t their expectations from us a bit too high for a three month time frame? Agreed to do more detailed planning two days later when we will finish reading the draft and putting down our comments on it.
That was all the work for the frst day and we decided to take the "education trail"- trail no. 7 starting behind park adminstration building to get the idea of what the trails of the park are like- what signs are there, what kind of infrastructure, how well kept etc. Noticed immediately that many signs, and wooden infrasturcture- benches & tables are broken or damaged, trail railings and steps in steeper places falling apart and waste lying around everywhere, besides, the marking of even this simple short trail failed to direct our way and we strayed off-trail. The nature caught my attention many times and made me curious- different plants that I had not seen before and a large 4cm bright green pearly bug- I would like to explore more about who they are.
Went shopping for food and made "friends" at every shop or market stall, where we stopped by. And at every place were asked, after our nationalities and names- if we are married or not. And the answers depending on the person giving them were either like "I have a nephew your age, also not married..." or like "Georgian guys will steal you!" Weren't we supposed to be too old for being bride-kidnapped? Anyway, seems that marriage is a big issue here.
All in all we feel like the new attraction of the town. Although Georgians are quite close to us in their looks and way of dressing, still we stand out somehow and everyone on the street knows- these are foreigners.
At home decided to turn on my computer for the first time since arrival in Georgia just to find out that it has become completely useless- only one message blinking on the black screen: "Operating system not found". Was blanc from shock myself for a while and then dissapointed greatly- why did I carry it all the way to Borjomi then?
To think about something else engaged myself in cooking a vegetarian lunch from local veggies in our open-air kitchen having to ask every kitchen tool from Vaniko' s father, who is a very sweet grandfather almost always at home providing us help if we require it. Devoted the evening to my internet-addiction- chatting on Skype and replying to e-mails at an internet cafe.


Starting in Borjomi_Marta

On our bus trip I tried to converse with the first of the many Georgis that we had on our days till now. Somehow we had a funny conversation, cause I arranged that in case our new home by Natia where not from our interest we could visit his place. But at the end I have not call him. We arrived at the so high called "bus station" where there is an old bus I really love without sits. I hope I can make a photo. And our chef was waiting for us. In the house we left our things and the following day we went to work.

En el viaje de furgoneta-bus, saque mi librejo de aleman-georgiano y a la media hora ya estaba conversando con el chaval de al lado, que casi apalabro una habitacion, la verdad ha sido la conversacion en Georgiano mas fluida que he tenido en todos los meses y de la que menos me he enterado de lo que estaba diciendo. Pero luego cuando no bajamos con el se sintio algo decepcionado. Ese dia llegamos a la casa y empezamos a instalarnos

Linda: Borjomi, here we come!

Today is a good day for going to Borjomi we decided.
Everyone was leaving- Marta and me to Borjomi, Gabriele, Flavio and Niklas- to Kazbegi, James had already left the previous night. At the Didube busstation/ marketplace said goodbye to our small family and boarded marshrutka to Borjomi driven by a bad-mooded driver complaining about everything (including the weight of my backpack and us not being sure where we should get out in Borjomi) and quarelling with the passengers.
Marta was very much entertained by trying to have a conversation with a Georgian lad sitting next to her with the help of her German- Georgian phrase book and actually managed to agree on renting a room from him for a good price in Borjomi, regardless of the fact that we already have a room at the same price at our manager's house. I was greatly amused by this spectacle.
Borjomi- Kharagauli national park Visitor Centre manager and our host Natia met us at the bus stop with her 1-year old daughter Salome and led us to our new home for next three months- a small room upstairs styled in perfect 80s Soviet design and a bathroom downstairs next to chicken house. Found a magazine in Latvian and books about Latvia intact- as left by the volunteers from previous year when they evacuated hastily.
Paid our first visit to Borjomi tourist information centre and acquainted ourselves with Artur the manager of the centre, at that point having no idea that he would play an important role later in our stay in Borjomi.
Amid a thunderstorm had an "arrival dinner" at a restaurant suggested by Artur.


Linda: Temptation and long walks

Woke up at 10:30 looked at each other and could not decide if this is the day we are leaving for Borjomi.

Swiss boys kept pressing on us to go trekking and getting ready for the trek themselves- planning and buying food and asking me to be their trekking consultant. I got involved in the process of their trek planning and thought to myself- will I be able to stay set for 3 months in Borjomi when there are so many tempting mountain escapes in Georgia. During the process noticed how me and Gabriele agree on each and every aspect of how trekking should be planned and carried out- we would make a perfect mountaineering team.

Finally it was too late to go to Borjomi anyway and we settled to cook lunch although it was already closer to dinner time, had a nap afterwards and then joined Flavio, Gabriele and Juan at a restaurant, who were engaged in a lively discussion about human-eating or otherwise dangerous animals of the world. Flavio led us once more for a walk through the backstreets, this time unlit and occupied by groups of males observing our every step, a creepy experience decorated by Flavio dancing out his nervousness and hugging all statues on the way. Came back to the safety of a well lit Rustaveli and had an incredibly long walk back to Dodo's- stopping on corners, sitting down on benches, talking and enjoying the night.

Finished the night as always with a tea at the courtyard. Niklas came back very late, intoxicated by wine and overflowing with love for Georgia and Georgians, he was very sweet and I could not stop smiling at him.


Linda: Sulphur, KGB and lots of khinkalis

Slow morning by our new "family of travellers"- a group of us that felt amazingly well being together although we knew each other for a day only- which was enlarged by ever positive James this morning.
James-american, who circled the world on bicycle and still contionues his cycling travels of extreme adventures (although it is still not clear what is more extreme- the adventures or the storytelling style) his favourite country being Pakistan. His current travel blog: http://tbilisi-telaviv.blogspot.com/.
Had breakfast at Sachasnike- another local eatery, where foreigners are a rare sight attracting everyones attention, and whose traditionally warmly welcoming owner felt like a long-time friend after 5 minutes talk about what would he suggest for us to eat this morning. Ended up with Imereti hachapuris on our table.
Made a long embassy registration walk around the city visiting places off the tourist tracks, as Latvian embassy is set in a remote private house quarter, being cheered by lines of Georgian road workers sitting lazily in the sun on sidewalks and having difficulties crossing streets filled with motoracers- both situations putting us a bit out of our comfort. Latvian language sounded almost exotic in the setting, but the registration itself gave some assurance that in case of emergency evacuation help will be provided.
We decided to eat more fruit sold everywhere, minutes later Marta went into a shop and bought cookies. I'm gaining weight in this country of white bread and fried foods soaked in oil (this is what is left on offer when the main items- meat and wine are subtracted).
Back on Rustavely bought a Geocell pre-paid card and enjoyed cheap sms service by contacting Flavio, with whom we were supposed to go to sulphur baths. They were late and we decided to walk slowly in the direction of the baths and the walk came out a very long one and included observing Georgians crossing themselves 3 times every time they passed a church, taking pictures of anti-Saakashvili "protests"- represented by improvised numbered plactic "cells" bloking the main street in front of the parliament house with a few men hanging around in some of them playing nards, geting lost in Old Town, walking halfway up to the Narikala fortress and from up there finally locating the whereabouts of the baths. Arrived at the place at same time as our Swiss friends and chose a "comunal bath" option, where gender inequality was greatly expressed- males have a pool, but not sauna, while females have the smelly hot water only in showers, but can heat up even more in a sauna. Standing under the rotten-egg smell shower soon got boring, so I opted for a "massage" executed by a completely naked (all people go naked in the baths) elderly woman reaching up to my chin only, who had no hesitation whatsoever to energetically apply her tool- almost rotten massage glove, that seemed to have been used on hundreds of bodies already- all over even the most intimate parts of me. My Latvian nature made me react with perceiving it as abusive and un-hygenic at first, but then I simply gave in to the moment trusting in the disinfecting an healing properties of the highly praised sulphur and in the end felt freed of all layers of dust, sweat and old skin accumulated on me- squeeky clean, relaxed, cheerful and of course- smelling of rotten eggs.
The boys came out equally "processed" by a male massager and after following Flavio's assured lead through the backstreets of the OldTbilisi for a while we admitted being lost and settled down to eat at a place called Hlebnaja, which turned out to be a good find with good food, kind waitress and an "eyeless dog".
Met up with Mariam and a group of her friends, as well as Niklas. Our desires rounded up to 1) wine tasting, 2) wanting to dance but none of the stylish bars of Old Town could not satisfy them and in the end we settled down at KGB bar on Bambi, which seemed cool to other Europeans, but quite shocking to ex-Soviet citizens like me. On one hand the menus in the shape of KGBs files "Delo no. _____" and the names of dishes like "Stalin's favourite" were amusing and even nostalgic for old times, but on the other hand- KGB killed thousands of innocent people, tortured without any proof of their guilt, sent intellectuals to gulag labour camps, performed all the atrocities and now the people are having fun in this bar drinking kompot. Are there many SS bars in Germany?
Anyway, sipped my kompot at the non-drinking end of the table, conversing with Gabriele and a sarcastic, smart polyglot ....., who could speak even Lithuanian and observing the drinking end getting more and more drenched in wine, their voices rising, their arms becoming more hugging and their eyes veiled.
The drinking party decided to continue to a 24-hour khinkali place, and we squeezed ourselves in a taxi- me sharing the front seat with Gabriele. Flavio and his new found love ... went walking, and others shared their knowledge of multi-national swear word vocabulary, while gulping down numerous meat khnikalis and disputing wheather it is OK to eat the pastry top part of these dumplings. Usually locals laugh about foreigners eating the "bad" part, although the visitors often find it to be tasty.
Arrived at Dodo's courtyard at 4:00 in the company of Gabriele and Niklas and continued talking until 6:00 in the morning, annoying Mexican Juan sleeping in our room. At this point Gabriele was already using all his charm and persuation skills and pressing us hard to come with them to trek in Kazbegi-Tusheti, setting out the next day. My mountaineers soul was greatly tempted to follow this invitation as much as Martas liking for adventures tempted her, but we still remembered a point in our "Team Agreement" signed at Kostelecke Horky: "Our project is our nr. 1 priority". Nevertheless we hesitated to take a decision to leave to Borjomi next day, leaving the question open.