Well, its been a hectic few days and very little time for blogging, but I will endeavour to catch up quickly (whilst enjoying one Macdonalds hamburgeri, since the internet at home is broken). On Thursday, we broke up from school for Easter and I am not due back at school until Wednesday. I received a call from the lovely Mr A. on Tuesday, to invite me on a TLG trip (http://www.tlg.gov.ge/) to Davit Gareji and Ninotsminda. My first day as a tourist in quite some time!! The weather has been wet the past week, which apparently is typical for Easter, but we were extremely lucky on the day as the weather was perfect for our minivan adventure.
I didn’t know any of the other volunteers on the trip, so it was also great to meet some new people (including a Brit!). It was a very relaxed day, with sandwiches already prepared, and bottles of water, and a guide, and a chance to kick back a bit. Unfortunately I was feeling pretty rough with laryngitis and pharyngitis that I have had for a few weeks now, and my voice was almost gone, so talking was really difficult, and I was much quieter than usual.
Time for our first round of sandwiches, feeding some Caucasus dogs, and then getting back into the bus ready for our next stop Ninotsminda Cathedral (not to be confused with the town of Ninotsminda which is in the region of Samtskhikhe Javakheti!). Our guide Data gave us some information on our fleeting visit here, and because it was approaching Easter there were a few folk here to visit the church. The cathedral was built around 575 in the town of Sagarejo in Kakheti region. It is currently a nunnery, but has been a ruin since the 1800s when it was hit by earthquakes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninotsminda_Cathedral).
The eyes on the frescoes were carved out by those who disliked the orthodox faith, which is a sad bit of history really. I will write more about all this later, because I am far too lazy right now!
So, we then drove through a beautiful region, which reminded me a lot of the Lake District in the UK. Mountains and greenery, and so many birds of prey to be seen. I really need to brush up on my bird spotting skills, as they really were incredible. We also saw mountain goats being herded, with their very long hair, horns, and goaty beards. We also went through the town of Udabno, where some Svaneti people were re-housed to protect Georgia from invaders from Azerbijan. The word udabno actually means desert, and this area is usually very dry and difficult to grow crops from, but because we were there in Spring, it was fairly green, with some little lakes. The whole region used to be very fertile, but was set on fire for three years by invaders from Azerbijan, and is now difficult to cultivate. There was much talk about snakes on the way to David Gareji, and some volunteers were a little nervous, others were rather hoping to see some snakes. Apparently the caves are usually full of them during the summer, but now it is too cold for them, so it is a good time to visit the monastery.
Time for a toilet stop (squat!) at the David Gareji Monastery Complex, before entering the monastery. It was very impressive, and the surrounding geology was incredible, as was the weather. Again, I will write more later, because I am too tired right now, and don’t feel like writing.