Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Silk Route Trip 2005 - Georgia

An odd shaped roof for this bathhouse. The waters inside smell like rotten eggs but are supposed to be good for you. I am not sure I like the sulphur smell, I imagine I smell like a rotten egg after I come out of the bath. Yuk !

This multicolored balcony was painted just for the visit of the American President, Mr. Bush. I shows how nice Georgia could be if it had the money.

Georgia is fiercely Christian, there are sign all over the place, like this cross leaning on a wall.

This is where you can buy cigarettes. Note the irons in front of the window, the trust to consumers does not go far. Everybody still seems a little afraid.

Small chapels like this are everywhere. This country is proud, proud of its beauty and its beliefs.

Odd looking grave stones. I always notice grave stones, they tell a lot about the way people think.

This is a park bench or a chair, I found the shape was of an ancient design, but it is still used today.

This, again, was painted in happy colors just for the visit of Mr. Bush. It costs Georgia a lot of money to put on this show for Mr. Bush's visit. Newspapers wrote that it was too much money spend on foolish things.
This is the housing I saw, behind the freshly painted houses for Mr. Bush's visit. I think this is the true Georgia.

The church has a lot of money and seems to relish showing it off inside the chapels and churches. Those Icons and pictures are priceless relics.

A view of Tbilisi, the Capital of Georgia.

I found this sign and liked it, it shows that the silk caravans passed thru here and that the people still respect the hard work these men did years ago.

I tried to speak to this woman but she turned out to be a witch. All she wanted is money. Money. Money.

5/12/05 Thu Batumi, Georgia sunny
We began with a short ride to the border and a very confusing check out on the Turkish side. 4 stops and waiting in line. First the passport control, then the Police Registry (you will pay your traffic ticket here if you can not prove you already paid it), then the check point of ‘nothing to declare (you did not buy antiques, did you?) and lastly a final check just in case something has been forgotten or omitted. It took about 3 hours to get out of
Turkey. The Ottoman Empire ran on paper work and it is still there.
How was the entry into Georgia? We had help; because Kirill was there, also a guy named Nick. The guide girl is named Maya. Just sign a piece of paper after they look at your passport and off we go for the ride to Batumi. I see potholes, missing man-hole covers, dilapidated housing, and desperation with just a little sign of hope. Women wearing odd shoes, nutty clothing and back to techno music. Does this sound like Russia? It sure feels like Russia! In the afternoon we visited an old Roman fort. I did not listen to the drone of the guide. It bores me to hear facts and numbers and I forget them instantly anyway. Dinner is a surprisingly nice restaurant. Mercedes Benz, BMW etc parked outside. Obviously there is money in Georgia but you would not know it looking at the city. You would never know it by looking at the old woman selling sunflower seeds or home-made, jarred pickles. No middle class, either rich or poor! How are the roads? Horrible!

5/13/05 Fri Tbilisi, Georgia sunny
I was afraid of the roads, seeing all the potholes in Batumi and on the outskirts of town.
I started with a flat tire this morning. But it was a false alarm. Only the valve was stuck with dirt and some air escaped. Helge waited for me ready to help. Luckily it was just dirt that got into the valve stem, causing air to escape. So I rode with Helge today. He is a good rider. He is quick, decisive and sure of himself. It is a pleasure riding with him. Another false alarm was the bad road. Once out of town the streets are in good shape. Just inside each town I met potholes, grooves and animals of all kinds in the streets. Not only dogs but goats, sheep, pigs, cows and horses, too. At one point we had a police escort that worked as a relay. When one Police car left another Police car took over to guide us thru towns. We flew thru towns! At speed of up to 85 miles/hr. Screaming sirens, air horns, flashing lights. Not easy riding on our part. Remember the potholes, etc? We were very lucky, nothing went wrong. The weather starts to heat up; from now on I have to dress in lighter cloth.

5/14/05 Sat Tbilisi/Georgia sunny
I shipped some paper work home to the U.S. via the Georgian Post Office. Old maps I no longer need, etc. The postage was 31.30 Lari or about ($18.-). Expensive if you consider that some pension income here is only 30 Lari a month. I had a haircut today for 6 Lari.
We had a city tour (churches, old castle, and post office) in the morning. So many Kings, Queens and numbers, so many names nobody can pronounce and dates nobody can remember. And the guide Maya droned on! Yes, Maya (23) speaks English but she is like alcohol, she puts me to sleep. The same happened in the afternoon when we visited the National Treasury Museum of Georgia. Our people just walked out on the museum guides. 326BC, 66AD, 54AD, 332BC, etc, etc. And all we saw were chards of pots and cooking or living utensils. Not my favorite activity, taking tours. We heard about uprisings in Uzbekistan but we are told it is far away from where we are going. Still we are told that MIR will register us with the U.S. State Dept.
For dinner we had a folk dance performance. Two guys showed us how explosive Georgian dance is. Like Cossacks, very agile and fierce, including the use of knifes.
Each dinner so far was exactly the same food. Even so we ate in different restaurants all the time, the food was the same. Bread and cheese, cheese covered bread, like a pizza but no tomato sauce. Assorted cooked vegetables in a sushi form. Eggplant, spinach and?
Pork, animal innards (heart, lung and?) casserole and for dessert fruit. Taste is ok but for 4 days now exactly the same food.
I bought an Icon like picture for $ 200. - Gerissa French will send it to me once she gets to Chicago.

5/15/05 Sun Tbilisi, Georgia sunny after last nights rain
Today was a day to explore the town on our own. I had a long, slow breakfast and then Shirlee and Frank and I took Mini bus # 35 to?? We got lost! After some time we backtracked via taxi and found the Sunday flea market. Here we saw Tbilisi, the real Tbilisi without the tourists. Used clothing stores, used shoe stores, etc. All were in very, very poor condition. Georgia is poor. I read in the Newspaper (English Version) that the decision to go “cold turkey” and adopt a ‘free’ economy might have been a mistake. The local English Newspaper writes that Georgia should have changed ‘gradually’, like China did. The corrupt system allowed just a very few people to get rich in 1991. But even they, not knowing how a ‘free’ society functions, lost their business and squandered their new found “wealth”.
The flea market sold everything; from “Art” to circuit boards to x-rated videos. Some stuff old and seemingly useless to me. I mean who needs radio tubes? Yet here is the stuff we in the U.S. consider trash. Whatever does NOT sell in the U.S. is for sale here. Georgia is a definite 3rd world country.
I spoke to a former German Teacher who has no job. His pension is 28 Lari a month ($16.-). He speaks English, too. He is 53 years old but he looks like 75 years old. Many old ladies sit on a chair in the middle of the side walk and sell sunflower seeds. There are so many of them one can not help them all. Georgia is a very sad country. I remember the Russian saying: “what to do? “
Nobody can read the writing the Georgians are so proud of. Why adopt this style of writing for the 21st Century? Proud, yes! Smart? ? ?
Words learned: Madaloba= thanks, Garmarjobo = Hi, Puri = bread

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