Georgia…before Rikoti pass

Georgia, a new beginning with a young president. We entered this country with a careful heart as so many words of caution have been told to us, “cycle fast across”, “hitch a ride with the trucks and depart sooner”. What has the past of Georgia been that it continued to haunt its present, …. and its future?
(Georgia … 1.12.04 to 14.12.04)

Oranges? Yes … & no. These are not the ordinary citrus fruits you’ll find in market in Ang Mo Kio. These are a special breed of Georgian oranges, “Vashidton”.

It wasn’t till night fall when we rode out from the border post. If I was to revisit the place in the day, I wouldn’t have recognized it. There wasn’t much light anywhere to really see our way about. All I knew was cold and darkness, as the waves kept crashing onto the rocky beach. Upon the 1st lit house in the village of Sarpi, we stopped. The Koridze family is the minority Turks of Georgia. Hence our ‘bir az’ turkish managed to strike some conversations, specially with the parents and grandparents.

A stretch of the main road leading away from Kobuleti town centre was under construction. Barely flat or level, we have to carefully thread through with walking pace. The next village was nowhere near, but we spotted a cattle station.

There wasn’t rooms nor beds for guests, but the old men took us in & serve us food anyway. Meals are never complete without homemade wine! Cheers! Our 1st Georgian wine … good for the cold nights :) Cheers to Pichiho, Actus & Gigela!

Camera rolling … actions! Bachuk shot part-time at functions. Generally there isn’t any jobs about. After the Soviets dissolved, factories cease operation & electricity comes at certain times. Fortunately, this town has gas supply & wood for burning is available. This house uses gas lamp when the electric retires.

Ah … looks familiar? Yes! Georgian food gets a little more spicy, much to our delight. Hot stuffs!

All in smiles, the Tevzadze family, together with their neighbours. The girl with glasses & cap wants to be an English teacher in future. From her, we picked up a few Georgian words! Keep it up!

It has rained earlier as the roads were wet & cold, and it looked to rain again. Yet, the spirit of this house never seem to be dampen by it. Everyone is hot-tempered and enjoy thrashing the other, but they’re really a loving family I assure you. The boy in the middle, Lasha, is more fluent in English & he become our translator.

The rain prevailed & the family asked us to stay on. 3 days in all, we had fun, we had joy, & we had seasons in the rain! Here they’re making Georgian pastry for us ;P

‘Perashki’, fried pan cake stuffed with rice & ‘Kachapuri’, the well-known cheese filled bread. Hungry already?!

And … the time to part … it was slightly cloudy, but not rainy. In good blessing, one last pose with our Georgian dancers …. next stop, the mountain pass …

It has been uphill climbing. Snow … yes! Snow has been cleared to the roadsides, at least 10cm thick! The boss of a eatery called us for tea. We gladly accepted :) Inside, all the men crowd around the miserable stove.

Another restaurant at the mouth of the tunnel of Rikoti mountain. Exceptionally amazed & eager to hear about our journey, they urged us into their restaurant and at once served us soup, sausages, vegetables & bread. We have to quickly decline the ‘vino’ offer :D

The tunnel through the mountain pass. Thank you for being there, else we’ll have to climb further & fight the freezing snow.
*ps. A sign just before the tunnel reads:
Free – mountain road
Toll Charges – tunnel

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