09.06.09

Into the Caucus region

Posted in Georgia, The journey journal at 11:45 am by Administrator

So we have crossed out of Turkey after a solid amount of time and have been having some grand adventures in Georgia. This is a truely intersting country. Not always comfortable but really interesting. We’re in the capital Tblisi at the moment and have been here a week and a bit. That is a little longer than we had planned as I went and got myself some kind of nasty virus that knocked me around a bit and so we had to spend a few days holed up in a hotel in the town of Stalin’s birth, Gori. The country itself is pretty poor and the infrastructure is severly lacking but the people are relatively happy with the world and so feircely proud of being Georgian that its crazy. All the tourist liturature here is calling georgia the place tha europe starts but they keep failing to realise that gerorgia isn’t really anywhere near europe. There is a kind of europe a hundred years ago feel to it but no matter what the feel its not in the same geographical region. Another few things that a lot of georgians seem to think which condradicts a lot of what we’ve been taught is that, Stalin was a great guy (hmmm I’m pretty sure that he wasn’t all that nice), that georgians invented wine, that viruses couldn’t happen in a country as advanced as georgia, that bubbly water is heaps better than still water, that its fine to set up a butchers shop out of teh back of your car on the side of teh highway and that load limits and seatbelts are for pussies.
The driving here hasn’t been terrible so far. The emisions are terrible but the Georgians seem to be aware of their brakes and some indicators. The only problem is that they drive way too fast on bad roads that are literally covered with cows. There are a scary number of cars driving around with a completely smashed in front end, a missing rear bumper bar and two head shaped smash marks in each wind screen. Yes thats right, after a horrific smash where both driver and passenger try to put their head through the windscreen they con’t bother to fix the car, they just keep driving. Also I’m pretty sure that there is a job vacancy for a mechanic that actually knows how to tune and engine here as none of teh cars that I’ve seen so far have been tuned right and as a result breathing in the towns is somewhat difficult. Also it seems that the rishest man in georgia is the guy who was the Ford Transit van salesman in the mid nineties. Three quarters of the world’s transits of that era are here and none have been sold here since 2000.
Our second day in the country saw us wanting a short day and as it was shower time we thought that we’d stop in the regional centre of Ozgureti. After some quick groceries we asked a few people if they knew of a hotel around. The first few couldn’t help as it seems that Ozgureti doesn’t have a hotel but teh last guy that we asked just happened to be best mates with a bloke that was trying to open a guest house and kickstart regional tourism. (if you want any tips on georgia we can put you in touch). So his family adopted us for the evening and if we had have stayed I’m sure they would have leagally taken us into the family. They fed us, got us drunk (ok just me but I still managed to avoid the breakfast shots of homemade grape vodka) washed our clothes, sang for us, gave us a bed and taught us about the region and the accepted georgian version of history. They also sent us off with a gigantic care package that I’m lucky that I specified as “small” or we wouldn’t have been able to carry it. That is a typical example of georgian hospitality. Some days we have to hide from people so that they don’t keep giving us too much food that we can’t carry it all. I mean just out of tblisi a random car pulled over in front of us on teh motorway and flag us down. In typical georgian style it was ridiculously overloaded with fruit on the way to market and a guy jumped out of teh car and proceded to overload us with apples and peaches and other stuff. Nic had to balance the fruit in 2 bags across the back of her bike just to get it to camp that day.
We also had the great fun of having to do a hospital dash while in the mniddle of teh country. I decided that I needed to get a bad stomache virus as far away from civilisation as possible one night in camp. I got a nice fever out of it and a bit of spewing and so it wasn’t going to be possible to ride the next day. So Nic packed up camp whie nursing me in my Man-Flu affected state and then flagged down a van going the way that we though was best to find a doctor. I passed out in the back with the bikes and lugguage on me while Nic had an interesting adventure in the front seat with the driver. You have to wonder about a guy that offers a sick bloke a ride to hospital and then tries to pick up his missus on the way. I mean, it wasn’t even terminal. but yay to Nic for sorting it out and putting up with the crap and getting me to the ‘Legally low persons and modern military hospital of Gori’. I spent the day there and then we spent 3 nights in a hotel while I got some strength back. After recovering we also found out that gori is the birthplace of stalin and they have built a park around his birth home and then built a marble pedistal over the top of it. Hilarious stuff.
Gori also has a great example of the history available in georgia that is undisturbed by tourism. The fortress over the town with its giant bronze 1st crusade knights around it was ace.
Anyway nearly time to head off but I also should point out that the scenery here is awesome and the mountains and valleys are great. The war, political and religeous history is amazing and the people are unique and great. I’d recommend that people come here as part of a new frontier, if you want to get away from the tourist hordes and still see cool stuff then here would be a good place to do it.
We’re in Tblisi a few days and then we have to bus (because of my sicky delay and stupid azerbaijani consular officials) to Baku.

Cheers for now

Tc and Nic