Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Week three N 41.41.45 E 44.48.44

Batumi, Mestia, Kutaisi, Gori, Kasbeki and Tbilisi.

We crossed the border at Georgia's Black Sea port then headed north into the mountains - the road was narrow and winding. Crazy drivers passing, rock falls (including one that hit a car, put a hole in the side and pushed it almost over the edge) and road wash outs. Then we came south again to Gori and the Prometheus Caves. North along the Georgia military highway to Kazbeki, nine km from the Russian border and site of the highest monastery in Georgia. Finally south into the capital, Tbilisi.

Georgia is a small country with a very old civilization (there is record of grape cultivation near Tbilisi 8000 years ago). Unfortunately, it is on the easiest route for any conqueror to take on the way from Asia to Europe. The last time was 2008 when Russia invaded two areas of Georgia and remain to this day.

Impressions: mountains, lush and green, buildings unfinished or bombed, subsistence farming, gas half the price of Turkey but no WC or snacks at the service stations, food fresh and plentiful.

Wine, religion and the national identity. Georgians take pride in the fact that they have been cultivating wine for 8000 years and that the way they make their wine is different than the newer European wines. It is interrelated with their strong orthodox faith which goes back to to the 400s AD. Surrounded and often conquered by Islamic fighters, the drinking of wine was a symbol of solidarity. Even when religion was suppressed during the soviet era, wine was like a secret signal.

No comments:

Post a Comment