Friday, June 14, 2013

First steps in a peculiar country

Ozurgeti, first morning in Georgia. We are pretty much alive, the georgians didn't kill us. In fact, they've already invited us home. Twice. But you don't sense the turkish gentle naiveness. They are kind but you don't fuck with the georgians. Ozurgeti is a small town, connected to the rest of the country by small roads with cows on them. The whole country is full of cows randomly crossing, sleeping or walking on the streets. Drivers just slalom around them.

Georgian roads are a safe haven for cows

We are greeted by and old lady, a Babushka, she says in russian:
"Chodte ke me domu", come to my home.
We refuse, hoping to reach lanchkhuti this afternoon but not a single car stops.
Nata, the 13 year old girl walking with her repeats in english "come to our home".

So we go. We are greeted by Vachan and by Eldar, then the grandmother, the grandfather and god knows how many people. They bring us a shitload of food and are looking for a translater who speaks english.
They only find german which is good enough. Maka speaks perfect german and even some english. She's a strong spirited woman with strong opinions, she likes to talk.
Meanwhile, Maka's husband also comes and even the mayor of the village is summoned to take a look at us and at our trip.

"Come to my home", says the woman in black. Suddenly, we are greeted by all the neighbours

The mayor doesn't talk much, others talk to him. We go and drink coffee and say hi to the mayor's wife. Then we take a tour of all garden of the local community. We don't even notice the cows anymore, they're part of the landscape.
"Today you stay here", says Vachan, "we'll show you around you can go tomorrow"
Even Ilona doesn't have the heart to refuse.
They take us to see the wonderful nature around the village with the stream full of fish and fallen logs as bridges.

Crossing the river

They tell us about their country, how they were isolated by the russians and how they have no choice but to rely on themselves both as a country and as individuals. Incredibly brave nation and brave people.
The words of Zurab the democrat now start making sense. It's not sheer paranoia and suggesting that on my part was just being naive.
From the georgian point of view, the Russian threat is a reality. they share a huge border and are the personification of david and goliath, as far as countries are concerned.
Georgia is neither europe nor really Asia and doesn't really fit in anyones closet. Especially not in the russian's. And when Putin decides something Georgia takes the full blow of the consequences and no one will help because basically, nobody cares about them.

So their world is basically very influenced by Russia and they are right to fear a swing in the mood of the giant and lunatic country. In Europe, Russia is far away, we like to joke about them. But here in Georgia, everyone is affected by their every move. Because who knows what will happen tomorrow. Do not forget that five years ago, russian troops were marching on Tbilissi and the country was this close of dissapearing from the map. Think I'm exagerating? You should come here.