Sunday, May 19, 2013

Georgia updates

On the 18th I spent the morning at Zemphira house while Giorgi was at a meeting. At 1:00 we left with his father and went to a mall in north Tbilisi, walked around a little bit and then met some friends there and got food for our overnight camping west of Tbilisi. We are in a valley south of tsinarhetki. We had diner and had a little vodka which had a depressing effect on me. I remembered that today was the two month anniversary of the house fire and took a nap. I woke up around 11:15 pm and then talked with my new friends.
This morning we got up and a few people stayed in bed really late (from my perspective) as we burned a fire and talked. (mostly in Georgian, so I just sat back and asked for translations, which happened a lot.) The people were friends of my friend who he has from school, and they are all really nice people. We had two older adults with us who guided us to the fortress. The vegetation below the trees is similar to that of home here, except while there are evergreen trees, it is mostly deciduous with a few evergreens mixed in. We walked deep into the valley and one part of it we had to walk over a rock wall basically because it was so narrow. This is extremely rural land, and completely beautiful. It is amazing how it is only about 30 kilometers from my friend's grandmother's house in Tbilisi and so completely different. We were the only group on the trail. Tavkavta fortress is a 900-1100 year old castle and church which is absolutely stunning. There is an old church in it (which is kept up with photos) and a fortress. There is very little information available online, which probably is a good thing because it is so remarkably undisturbed, and I personally want to keep it that way, so it is a gem for people who know the locals. Getting into Tavkavta Fortress is a real adventure, because the trail is extremely narrow (at some points maybe only 1 meter wide above a gigantic cliff, which if you are smart is not a problem) and windy. At parts you are going over sliding rock faces which is dangerous but helps make it so very few people can see the gem inside. There are caves opposite the valley from the large hill which Tavkavta stands (which is where some of the very narrow pathways are) are very beautiful and demonstrate the geological history of the area. It clearly shows how the land has been slanted as the Caucasus and Middle East Tectonic Plates meet, which is stunning to see it. There are medieval caves there with records of Orthodox monks that are to date undisturbed according to our guide. It is a hidden gem, a true backdoor as Rick Steves says you need to look for when you travel and today is a day I will never forget.
I had a great time getting to know new friends, and will definitely see them later in this trip.

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