Georgia … after the pass

Breezing down after the Rikito, a valley town formed a panaromic display with the snow-capped mountains, orangy afternoon sky, alpine forest & a centuries old castle. Even the town’s name, Surami, protrays a graceful melody as the Georgian flag dance to its rhythm from the mast at the castle.
(Georgia … 1.12.04 to 14.12.04)

Along both sides of the road, these traditional ovens lined one after another, baking a sweet bread that can only be found here, the Nazuki.

It wasn’t easy to find a family here though. Normally we’re told “no extra bed” or “my house already has 8 people”. However the locals kept on sourcing for us to ask other houses. Soon a crowd had gathered. A young man walked up to us & signalled to follow him.
Skillfully playing on the accordion is his brother, Vaho.

The young man, Dato, with his mother, Nino, playing an Georgian instrument, the Pandori. We were wholly bewitched … the music was enchanting while the songs sang by Nino allowed my mind to wander off far away, amid the cloud, upon a mountain top. This is a concert in a simple setting, yet no money can buy. I wish you were there to feel it as well … :)

We were urged to take a tour of this centuries old castle, only a minute walk from Dato house. Climbing up to the walls, we saw the beauty of Surami once more.

Before we part, Nino thought of a close relative who lived near the border with Azerbaijan. Here she is writing a note to her, that we might spend a night before leaving Georgia. Madeloba (Thank you) Nino!

He works for the ice cream factory in summer time. Now he is back to his village, Akhalsheni, to work on his fields. Gia is a merry person with a comical laughter. See! Nice hair cut huh?! Yet he kept telling us he is no professional :P

Gia’s mother, Nunu, feeding their turkeys and chickens. Preparing them for Christmas and the new year! *wink*

This shot needs little introduction. Gia & Nunu, you are ‘magalria’ (wonderful)!

Swatch outlet … yes, we have reached Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. The city & its rural towns strike such a big contrast. Everything can be found here. Electricity in particular, is available round the clock. Nonetheless, these young city people were as helpful & friendly as the rest!

SK walked into the Chinese restaurant & came out with 2 Chinese, “Come, let’s go to our apartment”. Just like that, no further questioning nor checking of documents. Widely known as Kang Ge, he & his 4 friends are businessmen ready to set up a new market place here in Tbilisi. “Chinese, after all we are Chinese”, and for that, we stayed with them for 4 days, tending to our next visa application & general maintenance for our steeds.

As we cycled out of the capital, horrendous wind attacked us. Withstanding the invisible foe, our speed never went above 10km/h. Constantly we have to correct the steering bar in order to move straight. The dreadful ordeal took more than an hour. As we came to a small village, we had to seek shelter in this bakery, a pause for peace & bread.
This is the traditional oven we saw before, only bigger.

Each time, the oven can make 40 breads. The complete process takes roughly 45 mins & each bread is carefully sticked to the wall. Taking the finished bread out involve a little scrapping & with special tools, the baker scoops them one by one. “There, the bottom ones closest to the burning charcoal are ready!” Ah … the sweet smell of fresh bread … *slurp*

Remember the contact from Nino of Surami? This is the very note that will help us to find the night’s stay. Following 2 locals in their car, & after a couple of rounds and bends in the village, we finally found Mary of Marneuli.

Yes, that horn has been dugged for ‘vino’ drinking! It can hold about 2 litres and yes again, they would drink it all at once! Before every drink, there’ll be a good toast, one to health, next to all the family members, follow by to their country, and then not leaving out the rest of the world. To Georgia, MADELOBA!

Armenuhi, infront of the Armenian School where she has studied and now teaches in. There is a population of armenians living in the village and the armenian children all studied in this school. Interesting is, the Armenian School is also funded and supported by the Georgian government alike Georgian schools. All subjects are taught in the armenian language (also 1 of the 14 original languages in the world) and the students learnt Georgian as a second language. According to Armenuhi, that system may change in the near future as the newly formed government under their new President is implementing new measures and revamping the system. Nobody knows the effect of the new system but Armenuhi strongly believes that at least her children will have better lives in the future.

Mary, Tamazi (her husband) and Niko (their son), took us in for 2 nights with much kachapuri & vino. And every morning by the 1st call of the rooster at about 4am, Tamazi would wake up and come downstair to our room to add some firewood for the stove, keeping us warmth through the freezing early morning.

We are leaving Marneuli … leaving Georgia … Nahuamdis our friends!

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