Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wine region

Written on a rainbow gathering, some bob marley music playing.

The Kacheti region is where georgian wine is from. And georgian wine is supposed to be very good. If you ask me, it's less disgusting that french wine but you shouldn't ask me since I don't like alcohol.
We were hitchhiking to Telavi with a guy who decided to ride the 30 kilometers even though he wasn't going there.
"You sleep in a tent and you eat bread with cheese?" he repeated Ilona's words after she explained our situation, "are you serious? We are going home."
So we went home. He owned a huge garden with a vinyard, strawberries and god knows what other fruit and vegetables. He also had a plantation, hectars of peaches.
"No one buys them here, we send them to Ukraine". When the russians let them, of course.

We had a barbecue a shower and a wonderful dinner. Wine and vodka was flowing by liters. Georgian don't taste wine like french do, smell it and then sip. They just drink glass after glass.
But anyway why would you want to sip wine, is it boiling hot or something?Each family has its Eldar and today's Eldar was also present and as always, a true democrat.
He told us that he wasn't used to drinking and I rejoiced to have found a potential ally.

"I really can't drink, never more than 2 liters." Yes two liters of wine. We later learned that armenians are able to drink the same amount of vodka.

I don't count the days I go to bed drunk. I'm just glad that so far, I kept the food offered to us inside my stomach long enough for my body to process it.

"This is Babushka. She's 86." Babushka had a spine like a roman bridge but was still active and great in the kitchen.A millstone fell on her back thirty years ago and she miracoulously survived without any permanent damage.

The son was a free fighting champion and he looked that he could smash a bull into the ground. 15 years old and 110 kilograms. Ilona absolutly wanted a picture with him. The conversation shifted towards Abkhazia, sad stories, I can't write all of them.

"So why the hell do you let the Russians into georgia without visas?"
"We don't hate the Russian people, they are innocent. The Russian government is the creator of this war and we georgians can see the difference between man and government."

Such openness was mind-blowing, I did not expect this.

"It wasn't only Russians anyway. Armenian soldiers were shooting us too."

Outside, a giant storm was coming and we were lucky not camp in a tent this time. The experience would not have been pleasent.
TchetcheniaWritten on a rainbow gathering, some bob marley music playing.
The next day, cultural change, we are heading towards Tchetchenia. Tchetchenia extends into georgia and forms an interesting cultural mix.
In the minds of our fellow european citizens Tchetchenia would not be the best place to go but I can assure you that our experience was quite allright.

The region is poor, no work whatsoever. Taxis are so common that you barely see a normal car. At last, we hitch a ride with three tchetchens who shake down an apricot tree so we have a ton of apricots.
We pass through villages very much reminding those of Bosna and Herzegovina. There are no mosques though. Instead, christan churches are turned into muslim places of worhip, the corss is replaced by the moonish sign of Islam.

"It's like taking the georgian flag and painting russian stripes on it", says Ilona whose religious background is a little hurt. And she might be a little right, but who in this reagion can affort to build a real mosque?

We continue into the mountains with one of the tchetchens. He's 26, like me, his parents are dead god kows why and he finds us a great place for a tent. He's silent, he just builds us a fire, we light it and he leaves.

And tomorrow, Armenia.