Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Racha, Part 5: Return Home

Sunday morning, we were ready to leave for home by the appointed time.

Oh, then .... groan. The inevitable group shot. I hate them. What is it that Queen Victoria allegedly advised her daughter prior to her wedding night? Oh yes: "Close your eyes and think of England."

That being done, we climbed into our marshrutka with a promise of a panoramic view, a surprise, a lunch stop, and then home.

Racha, Georgia
First stop ... a new footbridge with a satisfying sway when you walked on it. We then began to climb up the side of a mountain, me assuming our destination was the panoramic view. When I was within sight of the summit, but tired, I encountered Mariami, where I learned the destination was that blue gazebo up there that housed a mineral spring. She gave me a small bunch of wild mint, which I pocketed to bring back to my hostess.

Racha, Georgia
And I began the descent back to the footbridge because I already had a bottle of healing sulphurous mineral water back on the marshrutka. Yet another lesson on the importance of asking one's destination before blindly following the herd.

We drove through other Racha towns that I'd like to explore further some day, if I have the opportunity. There's some really interesting Soviet-era artwork. The colorful "comrades unite" mural sorts of work - not like the anti-beautiful works such as the collection of sticks wrapped in cellophane structures on a roundabout in Tbilisi. Or the rusty, about-to-tip-over mangled shapes of metal in Rustavi next to the big Vejini supermarket on Chatava Boulevard.    

The marshrutka made a turn onto a gravel road and we began a climb that taxed both the marshrutka and our driver's skills. Finally, Tengo had to give it up because of boulders in the road, so we couldn't make it to the end of the road as he'd wished. So we popped out and walked up the road, through a tunnel and to the edge of a bluff. There, we saw for many miles - and if the day had been clear, we would have seen all the way to the Black Sea. It was very cold.

Racha, Georgia

We walked back to the marshrutka and saw that Tengo had successfully turned it around in what must have been a series of difficult maneuvers. He is a talented man.

Drove on we did, with the goal of a restaurant with the best khachapuri in the region. It was a roadside diner of the sort I usually like very much. Too bad the latrine, which one accessed by walking down rusting-through metal steps to a two-stall, but open door structure where one did one's business, was disgusting. Worst latrine I've seen in Georgia so far. You don't want to think too carefully about what the cooks and servers do after they use this toilet.

We dropped Sandy off in Gori, and delivered others near their homes in Tbilisi, and I was dropped off at a marshrutka station that brought me to Rustavi.

Racha isn't Svaneti. But it is very pretty. I was glad to have made friends with the strong Mariami, to have seen that ghostly mountain border, and experienced some of the charms of Racha. I hope Mariami's vision for a prosperous Racha comes to pass.

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