One comment on “Georgia for Shrek

  1. adventures with a Devi


    My name is Julian, I am an Australian that has been travelling for over a year. I have been travelling through many interesting places and I have seen many interesting things,though I would have to say some of my most memorable experiences have been with Devi.

    I first heard of Devi when a good friend of hers Jake sold me on he hostel that she works in. That would be the brothel/cave for 10 lari a night which includes dinner and wine with your own room, my kind of place, luxury all the way. My first encounter with Devi was an interesting one, the hostel was locked I asked can I stay? She said do you speak Russian and I said no but i do try she said you can stay as long as you do not speak Russian, which suits me fine, I hate to say it but yeah i am one of those English speakers. For the record Devi is a bit of a linguist. So I can say it was a good night i got drunk enjoyed good company, plenty of Poles which is a good thing, if you like to drink that is.

    Devi has a unique story but I wont go into detail about her story. I was looking for something to do, Devi hates Tbilisi, she wanted to find some mud volcano, why not join her? So I did. Our first adventure was a short one. We were not able to secure the necessary permits to go into the restricted areas we needed to go to.

    In the last major town we were in, we had a shitty day little success contemplating where should we stay, little to worry about a crazy Georgian offered us a place. He had worked in Canada though his English was pretty bad, not that I’m complaining. Plenty of chacha was consumed it was an interesting night. We decide to perserve and go for it any way.

    Our first night after leaving the last town was unsuccessful as we didn’t manage to find one of her Chechen brothers, sacred encounter with crazy dogs, the first of many. A warning for any keen hikers that may find themselves in Georgia. the shepherds dogs are vicious in my opinion they are more dangerous then wolves. When they are puppies they cut there ears off, apparently the wolves go for the ears. Crazy horrible awful creatures, the only thing that can save from these hell hounds is there estranged masters yell and hope like hell these blasé shepherds run like the wind and call back the bat shit crazy dogs. when in Georgia carry a stick with you at all times when hiking, if I didn’t have one I probably wouldn’t be alive typing this write now. So plenty of walking we didn’t have any other major troubles.

    Her friend wasn’t around when we came.

    When Devi and I arrived at the house of her friend and he wasn’t there we spent the night watching the movie into the wild together, which in my opinion was the perfect time to see the movie. The next day we arrived at the farm of another good friend of hers. Her good friend had dubious intentions but nothing bad happened at their place, as we went back to the town in a taxi. We spent the night at the mans house who had worked in Canada. There were some minor issues, loneliness and excessive amounts of chacha do not necessarily mix well. The next day we made it back to Tbilisi, back to our brothel/cave. We spent a week or so trying to get permission for the restricted area to see the mud volcanoes. While waiting we recruited a Turkish guy in transit named Egemen.

    Our second trip started near David Gareji monastery. David Gareji was an amazing monastery, our first night was spent in a house with rats scurrying about the place meant that it was a baptism of fire for Egi who was used to the creature comforts of our cave/brothel.

    We had to back track 15 km which wasn’t a bad thing as we needed a little bit more supplies and some information. Lucky we have ourselves a bit of linguist right. It still baffles me to this day how a Georgian reacts on most ocassions when Devi starts speaking to them in Georgian and they reply back in Russian do you speak Russian, which she does but she doesn’t want to as Devi doesn’t like Russian to much, she would rather learn Azeri when she is speaking to Azeris or Chechen when speaking to Chechens.

    Anyway we had little success as locals seem content to spend their lives condemned to there towns of 500 people being ignorant of what is even 10 km away from them. Not to worry though we are bored we are looking for something to do full steam ahead.

    After we left the village we had pleasant weather and we found one road which she should lead us along. That night we needed a place to stay and with confidence in the expertise of Devi we sat down together and yelled our lungs as a group of dogs barked the hearts out until a young Azeri lad pulled up, lucky for us we had a Turkish travel companion, otherwise dialogue would have been impossible as his older companion also only spoke azeri. The two shepherds were not very old, the youngest of which would have only been 15 or 16 at the oldest.

    They lived in a small dirty cottage without windows. They had very little to offer us, so they decided to offer us a sheep. Meat doesn’t get much fresher then that I can tell you. It was humbling experience as they lived in such appalling conditions and fresh meat is a luxury they would rarely have, it’s definitely humbling to experience such hospitality, though it’s a necessity in these parts as Devi always points out you just help your neighbor as you never know when you may be in trouble out there.

    But it did make me feel better to have Egemen with us as he is from Istanbul, and like most Azeri I have met they seem to have an infatuation with Turkey, they are proud to be Turks. As for those that don’t know apparently it’s like 80% the same language though apparently Azeris are better at understanding Turkish people then Turkish are at understanding Azeris, I think it’s something to do with all the Turkish soap operas the Azeris watch which popular in the region.

    The next day would be our last with Egi. The weather was fantastic blue skies and varied landscapes, our road at one point was a dried river bed. Being in Georgia of course our next encounter would be with Azeris. We met the Azeri family at around mid day and after 5 minutes hey invited us to stay, we accepted as Egi wasn’t feeling to well.

    Another fine example of hospitality out in the wild, though I do think our Turkish sweetens the deal a bit everyone was really excited to be speaking with the man from Istanbul. I do think that the lunch break that day was longer then it is normally, life out in these parts is pretty basic but this family at least had a radio to connect them to the outside world, which is what made Egemen’s presence so special to the Azeri family, which included three generations. We were then after lunch given the opportunity to reach the outside world, as there was a wedding taking place in a village somewhere, Egi accepted I declined a decision which later that day resulted in two dog bites.

    Apparently in the region we were in, there was an old monastery, so I have a day to kill why not try and find it? So I ask the family and apparently they think it was somewhere in some direction that they pointed out for me. I ask do you think anyone else in the area will know where it is, they told me currently there are only other Azeri’s, so armed with a note written in Azeri and Devi’s big stick I set out in search of the monastery.

    The first homestead I passed was unoccupied, the second I passed was certainly not unoccupied, as very quickly I was surrounded by 8 very aggressive dogs. This would be one of my most scary life experiences. There was on old women I could see and I yelled and yelled but she didn’t seemed to worried. A couple of minutes later a younger lady maybe just a bit older then me, caught on to the fact that the dogs at the homestead wanted to rip me apart and did her best to distract the dogs by throwing meat at and rocks at them, which thankfully was successful as I hand over the note to her, she gives me a look of disbelief says something in Azeri, I ask her paruski snaesh? and nothing, everyone speaks Russian in the former soviet states, I am amazed she can’t even read in Azeri her own language.

    I then retreated back towards the main road with my tail between my legs. The shock wore off quickly as I spotted a car driving along which looked new I figured they may have some information, unfortunately the car missed me and instead of getting the attention of the car I got the attention of four very unfriendly dogs.

    This time there was nobody around, and the four dogs were in a group pushing me further and further back I used my stick and I even hit the dogs a couple of times, which didn’t bother them at all. My only hope was that if I can hold them off and keep walking back to the homestead I was staying at. Then suddenly my knight in shining armor came and saved me, who happened to be an Azeri that also didn’t speak Russian, I then handed him note more Azeri which I didn’t understand, so I decided to call a day and go back to the family I was staying with.

    I told the story to everyone nobody seemed to worried a heads up about the mental dogs would have been nice, but you know I was alive I didn’t get bitten by any dogs, I had nothing to worry about I was safe at there place right, well you would be wrong. Later that day I decided to go to the toilet, at the place there was only one dog very calm unusually unaggressive for the hell hounds that inhabit this part of the world. So I go to leave after coming back to the property there are two very aggressive dogs, the mother can see me the dogs start barking, I wave my hands the older women looks at me no problem she gestures, ah but it was a problem before I know I have been tag teemed one for my upper right thigh the other for my upper left, the blase women suddenly realized that her hell hounds were intent on messing me up. I’m not one to hold a grudge but an apology would have been nice nothing, I should have had a stick with me she is right of course one does never know when a crazy hell hound will try and rip you apart even if it’s just to go to the toilet 50 m from their camp.

    Anyway I make inquires, apparently they believe there dogs don’t have rabies.
    Devi has some homeopathic remedies, which she applies to my wounds. We decide to keep on going possibilities what if I had gone back with Egi I could be safe in the brothel cave.

    Devi and I continued for another few days. We found our river which was imperative to founding our way to the mud volcanoes. The first people weren’t that friendly another blase old women that told us not to worry about her dogs, when of course there were problems and we had to wait for her to control her wild beasts. Not to worry half an hour later we meet a fantastic Azeri, that’s young and has financed his own flock.

    We are getting close we have a river, for once the directions we are given actually mean something we need to cross the bridge. Another azeri family yet they are a more proactive bunch they are aware there hell hounds are mental and don’t leave our sides.
    Another day finally the lake the mud volcanoes are close. We meet military they are ok actually nice guys they give us coffee and a nice meal, not that im much of a coffee drinker, they see we have the permission Devi is happy her arch nemesis in the previous village didn’t want us to make it here, without paying rangers.

    Devi asks the military guy have you ever been to the mud volcanoes, you have been stationed here for 10 years, no he hasn’t we don’t have any vehicle to do patrols well they don’t actually do patrols they just sit in their cabin and wait for people to come round for their documentation, yes the Georgian military spend their time constructive.

    Next day we are invited by the owners of a guesthouse to stay for free, apparently its marketed toward bird watchers and hunters. We visit the mud volcano, we then check my wound it’s going yellow around the wound we decide I should take my chances with Georgian hospitals. Our new military friends at least are aware of where their military headquarters are located, we found our way and a taxi is ordered.
    The taxi driver is actually fair and wants to make sure we are ok, the hospital says its ok that we sleep the night there. I decide to go back to Tbilisi as I need my shots Devi decides to keep going, she has courage that’s all I can say I am happy to have been on the adventure with her, but enough dogs for one week.

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