A couple of weekends ago I escaped to the remote Tusheti region. An absolutely amazing journey. Although only 200 km from Tbilisi, the journey lasts the whole day given the narrow, winding roads up over a ridge at almost 3000 meters above sea level. An incredible journey.
On this occassion I travelled alone, but I find it’s really easy to find company along the ride. On the way there I stopped by the men working on the road – clearing it from snow, ice, rocks etc.
They treated me to a simple meal and of course drinks. In politeness I raised my glasses with them, said a couple of toasts (after asking permission to the toastmaster, I’m starting to learn the ways..) but did not drink, not while behind the wheel. I picked up about 20 hitchhikers as well, most of them locals.
Tusheti is completely isolated for 8 months each year. The largest village Omalo is populated by less than a dozen people throughout the winter. Imagine that! They are mainly reliant on the produce they harvest now. But get this – in Dartlo, where I stayed one night – only one man stays for the winter now adays (!!). Along with his 17 cows, 5 chickens and 2 cats. Its only 10 km to Omalo from there but impossible to reach through the deep snow.. I met a guy who grew up in this place in Soviet times. Back then there was a school for the five village children.
The night I spent there was incredible. Amazing starlit sky, perfectly calm, perfectly cool, perfectly peaceful.
The following evening I got a terrible fever and stomach aches. I became so weak that I didn’t even have the strength to ask my host for tea and water. Fortunately they knocked on my door before going to sleep and provided me with some wild mint tea. After that I slept quite well while mad fever dreams occupied my mind.
Although I was a little bit unlucky with the stomache aches on this trip, the following day I managed to return home with lasting memories of a fascinating place. Yes, spending time in the country side is recharging, it gives me energy. I love it.