Bypassing cities is always my first choice, and this is what we did. Skirting around the North end of Chinti, we made our way East through the foothills, along gravel and dirt roads, through villages only Georgians would find any interest in, to Tianeti. Here one of our drivers basically forced us to his home, where the entire family took us in for lunch.
Grandma, mum and dad, some of the neighbors, and four children all gathered around a table to look at us and ask questions about what we were doing. We were fed beer and the Georgian dumplings known as khinkali, which is basically like the well-known perogi, but slightly different. Tasty stuff. This was my first taste of Georgian hospitality (not my last), and after some hours of food, beer, coffee, more food, and more beer, we had to get going!
The children and the father drove us to the opposite side of town, and they all waved us goodbye, giving us phone numbers in case we got in trouble and needed help. Not long after an older guy was watching us slowly make our way out of town, then waved us over. He decided we could use a bit for help and drove a few km’s out of his way to talk us down the road. It turns out Tianeti is full of some awesome people.
Off we hiked through snaking roads, surrounded by rolling hills of cow-grazed grass and pretty much complete silence. At least a couple hours passed before an old Mercedes came roaring along, and picked us up. The two passengers said nothing, just pointed to the back seat, we got in, and off we went.
At one point we broke down, and the two men worked in silence to fix their car while Katharina and I picked blackberries and wandered around the road… The car was fixed, and again we set off.
Eventually we reached Akhmeta, after what seemed an eternity. Our friends dropped us off with a smile and took off down a side road, and off we walked. Soon enough we had our own escort of more than likely the entire towns population of stray dogs, woofing and barking without end. I’m sure we were quite the show for the locals.
As night fell a U.N. Landover gave us a lift to Telavi. No idea what they were doing in the area, and communicating was difficult.
Telavi is a different sort of Georgian town. Spacious, clean, and feeling more Western than other places I had been to. The highlight was the 1000 year old tree that Katharina got stuck in, and the friendly dogs (naturally).
Only a night was spent here before we had to head back to Kutaisi, for Katharina’s flight home. As usual from us, rides came fast and we were at the Eastern outskirts of Tbilisi in no time.
Our next ride was with a very friendly Turkish trucker. I jumped up on the back bed and Kat got the passenger seat, which was equipped with a massager. I passed out for a little while and she got a massage, and eventually we switched it up…. It was a long journey to Kutaisi.
Outside Zestaphoni (near where we had our adventure with that crazy guy we had to run away from), police were stopping all truck traffic. Sadly we parted ways with our friend we had gotten so used to after these five or so hours.
Hitching on a dark road at night isn’t so fun, but we managed. If Kat wasn’t with me I may have spent the night in a bush.
Our driver took us right to our hostel, before giving us a “God bless” and disappearing into the night. Our hostel being more of a house with a few extra rooms. Odd place. So we had one more day before she departed for Austria. It felt strange. After only ten days it had felt like we had been traveling so much longer. We were so used to each other’s company, but just like that she was back to home-life, work, and university, and I was back to being that scruffy lone hobo wandering the roads. It was one for those bitter-sweet moments where she picked up her bag at 3am and headed out the door, ending our little adventure. Then it was back to a dark room all by myself. Luckily I’m fast at adapting to new situations (thank you army), and after I awoke to a new day, it felt as if I had always been alone.
Funny how life can change so suddenly, and how people, places, or events can completely change everything, even if it was just for a little while. Everything is transient and impermanent. I enjoy what i receive, but always try and remember that nothing lasts forever…
But that impermanence is what makes everything meaningful.
(Check out Kats video on her trip in Georgia!)