Unexpected Friendships in Tusheti

🇬🇪 Georgien (2017)

Diary Entry

We spend a great night under the Milky Way on the 3000 meter high pass that leads to the heart of Tushetia on the adventurous road. We wake up just before sunrise. I climb the next mountain to take photos of the spectacle. In the valley, clouds form an ocean that will soon vanish into thin air.

I hear a loud bang on the descent. One of the residents of the container, our neighbors, is walking next to me. The man has a scarred three-day beard, military trousers, an impressive knife, a rifle and a very lifeless bird under his arm.

Some might think that this guy is not good at eating cherries and that it is better to avoid it. I think – this guy is a great photo opportunity! I call out to him “Π΄ΠΎΠ±Ρ€ΠΎΠ΅ ΡƒΡ‚Ρ€ΠΎ” and call out “Photo? Photo?” While waving my hand at my camera. The man pauses in amazement and poses while he lights a cigarette. I show him the photo, whereupon he beams at me with a big grin and starts to follow him with a gesture.

He’s not used to modeling.

He enters the dark hole of his container, from which it smells and sounds like fifteen cougars live there. He pays little attention to the snoring of his kumprls and tugs around in a back corner.

With joyful enthusiasm he comes back with a couple of bags and a bottle and lays everything neatly on a bench next to the dead bird while he rams the knife into the wood next to it.

First things first, so I should take a deep sip of the chacha, which my new friend also has a sizeable amount at a time. I let it be understood that I just have to go to the tent. I pick up both Uli and our bottle of scotch there to complete breakfast.

“Chocolaaaat” the Georgian happily calls after a good mug of whiskey and generously pours his chacha. It’s six in the morning, I’m drunk and have to drive the second part of one of the most dangerous roads in the world with a broken car … What is going to go wrong?

Der Mann ist mittlerweile so ausgelassen, dass er Uli das Messer in die Hand drΓΌckt und damit posieren lΓ€sst. Danach gibt er mir seine Flinte, nimmt das Messer selbst in die Hand und posiert mit mir fΓΌr Ulis Kamera.

From the bags he gives us stale bread, tomatoes, melons and meat to eat. He explains the origin of this to us by gesturing a goat and then looking conspiratorially. Uli translates that the guy took down an apparently protected Caucasus buck and processed it for breakfast.

When we are strengthened and drunk enough we say goodbye to our friend and ride down the pass in serpentine lines. Several shepherds pass us with their flocks of sheep. “Sheep everywhere on the streets, it’s crazy“.

Our car is fully insured, except for the tires. We’re joking that whatever happens to the box, we have to bring the tires back anyway.

Trucks sometimes come backwards towards us on the steep serpentines.

The curves are so steep that their turning circle is insufficient.

We pass a lake from which the outstanding leafy birches tell a story of the fact that they have not been under water for long. A huge scree avalanche must have fallen down here recently and a shovel caterpillar department was dedicated to making the valley of Tusheti accessible.

We could just pass through with our little car. After driving through a thick coniferous forest, we reach Omalo.

The place shows us well how Georgians lived and still live in isolation for centuries. Some valleys are still inaccessible for a few months over the winter.

The buildings are very original, between the houses are only trampled paths and horses. Perched at the top of the hill; three old defense towers, from which we have an impressive view of the valleys.

In the village there is the bakery of a woman who learned to bake in Germany and sells her delicious breads, which are supported by an international organization.

After a good meal of kachapuli and salad we say goodbye to Jonas, who wants to hike from here to another valley for the next few days.

We’d like to go deeper into the remote valleys, but the fact

that we have already used over half of our fuel and that there is no gas station here, we turn back.

We spend the night outside the village in a pine forest. The aroma of the needles in the sun is in the air. We camp near an abyss, from whose depth the rushing of a mountain stream can be heard. In addition to wolves and bears, there are also said to be leopards in this area, but they don’t manage to invite one of them to dinner.

Only a cunning leopard is a living leopard, and a cunning leopard keeps away from people. So the school of evolution in this area that has been inhabited for thousands of years.

The next morning we are back at our friend’s place for breakfast and this time his friends are awake too and invite us to eat. Of course there is Chacha again and I get the shotgun in my hand again.

The Georgian puts a cartridge in the barrel and lets me shoot the blue sky for everyone’s amusement. I try to avoid any protected bird.

I try to let the car roll as much as possible to keep the fuel consumption low. Inwardly, I prepare myself to beg for gasoline somewhere along the way. But it works, we reach the valley of Kakheti and can fill up the car.

I call our rental company and organize an exchange of the car. Explanation of what is actually broken takes a lot of patience, as nothing is obviously broken directly.

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