Every week we plan on going to Mestia, a little town in the heart of the Svaneti region deep in the Caucus Mountains. It is supposedly the most beautiful place in all of Georgia (and by Georgian logic, that means the most beautiful place in the world). I am fortunate enough to live in Samgrelo, the region just next to Svaneti, but nevertheless, every time we plan a trip up there, something happens and we are unable to go.
The first weekend we very nearly made it up there, but we stupidly accepted an invitation to a wedding instead at the last minute. Then the next weekend we were going to go but my friend was invited to meet up with some of her friends in Kutaisi. Which, when we got there, it turns out they couldn’t meet anyway, which is how we ended up in Batumi that weekend. We were going to try again this past weekend, but it was raining here, snowing there and with the perilous mountain roads that I have heard about, I was not willing to risk it in bad weather (not to mention we would have been wet and miserable up there anyway). This weekend I have planned to go to Armenia. Will we make it next weekend? Who knows.
I’m realizing I don’t have many weekends left before I’m done with Georgia. I’ll be finishing teaching after the 2nd or 3rd week of December, planning a trip to Turkey for about 2 weeks, and then heading back to America for a belated Christmas, then, if all goes to plan, back to Korea two weeks later to start a new job, for which I am signing my contract for this week.
I wish I had more time to do all the things I want to do here. I still want to go to Mestia, Vardzia, Gori and to a ski resort. A friend of mine invited me to go with her to Abkhazia, one of the Russian occupied regions of Georgia, because she has some friends working up there with an NGO. Not to mention there are still a few places in Tbilisi that I still need to see, like the sulfer baths, the huge cathedral, the fortress, etc etc etc. And every day I’m hearing about more beautiful places I must see before I leave. So much to do and so little time. And of course, though it’s a small country, there are no highways, no high speed trains and you must rely on marshutkas for transportation which are unpredictable about time tables, prices, and just finding them. Just getting anywhere in this country is half the battle and half the adventure, which means lots of time wasted when you’re trying to get from point A to point B, and when you only have 2 days a week to explore, it’s just not enough time to see everything you want.
If you come to teach in Georgia, be sure to come with enough time to see everything you want to see, so you don’t leave here disappointed. The week long orientation in Tbilisi affords little time for actual exploration of the city as you’re locked in the hotel from 9am-8pm most days. Then, once you’re placed, if you’re lucky you’ll be somewhere central where you can explore easily on the weekends. If you’re unlucky, you could be in a village where marshutkas only come every few hours to take you to another small city where marshutkas to where you want to go also come infrequently, and you could spend a whole day just getting to your destination. My trip to Armenia this weekend will be about 13 hours of travel. 6 hours to Tbilisi, then another 6 hours to Armenia. For me to get to Khaheti, it’s 6 hours to Tbilisi and 1.5 hours to Khaheti. And I’m in a major city! Just be sure to plan your trips carefully!