Saturday, 17 May 2014

N 41.50.34 E 46.16.59 Lagodekhi nature reserve

Last night in Georgia. Just some final bits before we move on to Azerbaijan.

We spent one night bush camping in Armenia in the Lori region (honestly). We bypassed Lake Sevan in a spectacular hail/rain storm and moved to higher ground. Crew Calypso has become so skilled at camp setup that we managed to get everything set up between two massive rain storms and keep everything dry. It was a lovely spot and the changing sky made for great photos. We also entertained the neighbors - we waving as they drove by with a friendly toot of the horn.

Just a note about bush camps. They aren't what we would call a bush camp in Northern Alberta, but rather a farmer's field or gravel pit off the road and near a town. No water, so we rely on our own. No toilets, so we are all quite expert now at heading off to the nearest bush or over the hill with shovel in hand. To truly go "bush" as we know it would require some serious backpacking.

Final thoughts on Armenia. Huge discrepancy between rural and the downtown core of Yerevan which is trying to appear like a wealthy European city. Given the politics of wars and invasions and unfriendly neighbors, it's not unexpected. We didn't have a chance to fully explore. Hopefully Odyssey will give better choices and directions next trip. Personally, the hotel wasn't spectacular and was out of the way; perhaps back to the hostel would be a better idea.

Back to Georgia for two nights at a homestay in Signagi. These towns on the sides of vertical hills continue to fascinate me. You look out your balcony on the neighbor's roof. Everything is up or down and roads curve to follow the contour of the slope. Wine tasting (and an escaping quilt square), some more traditional Georgian food, and a hike to the local monastery (actually we would call it a convent as it is nuns living and working there) and off for one last camp in Georgia. Lagodekhi is a national park bordering Dagestan and Azerbaijan. It's not very big but it is the first time we actually camped amongst the trees. With a stream nearby that a number of us splashed in after a hot sweaty day.

At our homestay, the original Lonely Planet (2000) had described this park as having bears, foxes, and other assorted wildlife and being an area that was also a buffer between it's lawless neighbors in Dagestan.

Final thoughts on Georgia. Lovely lush country. Mountains, crazy mountain roads, cheap gas, bush toilets, empty buildings, unfinished buildings, derelict buildings. The occasional area, like Signagi, that has been designated for tourists with no expense spared. The country's identity is centered on it's faith and it's wine. Fascinating experience.

storm is coming...

but the camp is secure

and then the sunshine arrived!

dumplings with Lou and Luke at a
tiny cafe

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