Published: May 25th 2012May 25th 2012
We returned to Shilda after our travels through Turkey to what was a fast and eventful three weeks. It began with a teachers’ concert in Kvareli. The concert was a performance by teachers from the villages and towns in our area and included traditional dance, singing and poetry. The teachers did a great job. It was interesting to see how different regions have their own traditional dress and dance styles. My personal favourite was the dance routine from the Dagestan village who still speak their traditional language while living in Georgia. The crowd loved them and gave them a huge applause. The performances were held in a large theatre which was built in Soviet Union times and was true to form in that it was spectacular in size considering the small population of Kvareli but unspectacular in its functionality.
Our host father ran into some old friends during the performance and decided that we would go to their house after the performance for “one drink”. Of course this turned into a supra with far too much wine consumed.
On Sunday we were lucky enough to be invited to attend the Year 9 school excursion. At 7am the
On our way to Nekresi...
Mikaela and Julia with Shilda in the background.
students piled into two marshutka’s along with the teachers and a few parents and we were off. After a long drive we made our first stop in Chargali, a village in the mountains, best known as the homeland of the poet Vazha Pshavela. We visited his house and the museum which were both interesting. By this time we were all getting hungry and stopped by the side of the road for a huge picnic, we were a little embarrassed as we were completely unprepared for this shared lunch (no one thought to mention Georgian excursion etiquette) however we had nothing to fear each child had bought enough to feed an entire family and were eager for us to share their food.
Our second stop bought us to Ananuri a castle complex on the Aragvi River which was very beautiful. We climbed the bell tower and fortress walls before lighting candles in the central church. Our last stop was Bazaleti Lake where the students took turns on paddle boats which they used to explore the far side of the lake. After another long drive with far too many near death experiences we arrive home at 11pm completely exhausted. We had
an amazing day and got to see parts of the country that are uaully quite difficult to get to.
The following weekend our friends Julia and Lexa arrived in Shilda to celebrate “Maceoba” and “Choceyoba”. These celebrations are unique to our village and are very famous in our region. There was a Georgian judo completion held near the church for the local children and we were given left over medals as souvenirs. Four foreigners walking around the village caused quite a spectacle especially amongst the children who practiced their English skills, greeting our friends and asking them their names which was great to see. During the two days we ate lots of food, drank lots of cha cha and wine, danced and sang.
Our family loved our friends so much that they invited them to stay another night. The next day they attended classes with Mikaela at her school and later we visited Nekresi. Nekresi is a historic town near our village which is situated high in the mountains. The town was established by king Pharnajom (around 2nd-1st centuries BC) however in the 4th century AD, king Thrdat built a church in this place.
a 40minute steep walk up to Nekresi (barefoot and in jeans) we were impressed by what we saw. The buildings were beautiful, but it was the view that was breathtaking. Julia, Lexa and Mikaela climbed further to the top of the bell tower and took some photographs. While we were at Nekresi we met the ambassador for Kazakhstan and were filmed for a travel advertisement which we have yet to see.
After three nights in our village Julia and Lexa said their goodbyes. It was great to share our village and family with them and hear how they were similar or different from their own experiences.
Our last day before we left our village was spent with Mikaela’s co teacher and her family who invited us to the village of Kedi. Along the way we stopped in the famous city of Signaghi. Signaghi is a focus point in Georgia’s rapidly developing tourism, in recent years the city has been redeveloped, but in my opinion has lost its old world beauty and now looks rather commercial. However the cities location in the Alazani Valley is beautiful. While in Signaghi we visited a museum which housed artefacts from
our village dating back to the Bronze Age. We also visited the the Pirosmani exhibition which displayed paintings by the world famous Niko Pirosmani.
After a very long drive we arrived in the very remote village of Kedi. We had a massive supra celebrating three peoples birthday. The family was lovely and I gave some toasts in Georgian which the men loved. Mikaela spent most of the afternoon learning Georgian traditional dance from some of the young girls in the village. It was a massive day and we didn’t return home until 11pm. We were exhausted but our night was about to get longer. Our family had waited up to have our last dinner together before we left for the summer holidays. After more food and wine we finally packed our bags (by this point it was 1am) and then hit the pillow.
The following morning we all said our goodbyes, there were lots of tears from everyone expect Babushka who kept her composure until our marshrutka pulled up at our gate and which point she broke into tears.
So for now we say goodbye to Georgia and head to Barcelona to begin
the next stage of our journey.
There are more photos below