Georgia: until next time…

imageOne of my best friends, Michael Carroll, reminded me that we are Irish and there are no such things as good byes (reference to my last post). So I write this post keeping his admonishment in mind.

Luckily archaeologists unearthed my twin brother here in Georgia a few years back, so really, my DNA has never and will never leave Georgia; therefore farewells are simply presumptuous.

I’d also like to mention that I was not the only emotional mush pile yesterday-many others expressed the same sentiments. That makes me feel slightly better about my wine and Cha Cha inspired post last evening.

We woke up this morning a bit worse for the wear and debriefed our trips as a group in the IREX office. We then went to the museum and discovered my twin. We had a very dedicated docent explain artifacts to us in a style that made Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off sound like Malcolm X. Our traveling buddy Josh offered alternative explanations for the artifacts which kept us laughing and awake.

We then had some time to shop before meeting for traditional dancing and singing and our Supra. I went back to the outdoor flea market called Dry Bridge and bargained for some last minute items. One of the tests of traveling that sets you apart from novice travelers is your ability to purchase something for significantly less than the original price…in the native language. Well, I came, I saw, and I left with an item for half the original price. Time permitting, I could’ve shaved off even more I bet, but at 2.4 exchange rare, I basically got it for free.

The boys choir we heard was absolutely astonishing. The range of sounds produced was unimaginable. And it was just for us.

After the singing and dancing, we ascending to an amazing restaurant with sweeping views of Tbillisi. We ate an obscene amount of food, laughed, acted like a Tamada, and talked of what we longed for back home. All with a view that would make the Signature Room envious.

With dusk’s onset comes the Tbillisi light show. Perfectly placed spot lights all along the river reflect faint green up the steep slopes to the statue of the founding king. Just above the king are a few old Churches equally as well lit, perched upon their extremely high precipices.

With the last bit of sunlight fading away, we climbed several stairs up to the fortress fighting the inertial sway from our swollen bellies. With a bit of sweat and the last of daylight vanquished, we viewed Tbillisi from our perch.

Tbillisi is absolutely stunning at night. Hills, neon signs, beeping horns, tall statues, ancient churches, and a river winding it’s way not just through Tbillisi, but through most of Georgia. I doubt my pictures do it justice.

I find it somewhat poetic that a country and it’s cultural sub regions-seemingly different enough that each region has it’s own stereotype-is linked together by a river. Any bit of water that flows in a river is in one spot but for a fleeting moment. This moment, however, is powerful. Flowing water carves itself into the landscape just before it drifts onward, leaving behind a permanent memory of its passing. This memory also provides a path for future travelers and with enough time in passing, each traveler gets to etch its memory a bit deeper into the land, perhaps also making the river bend a bit wider, or the river a bit deeper.

Such is Georgia and those that have passed through her. Persians, Armenians, Azerbajanians, Russians, Spaniards, Romans, and Turks have all visibly left their mark on Georgia. And like water in the river, they have moved on, but their memories are etched into the architecture and culture of Georgia, providing a path in which to discover or rediscover her treasures.

As I watched Tbillisi’s light show, my eyes kept returning to the river. I was not like water in the river on this trip carving my memory into Georgia. Rather Georgia has moved through me, changing my course, and inscribing her language, culture, and traditions indelibly upon my very nature.

Luckily, rivers are navigable and these memories have provided a path. This path is now familiar, well lit, friendly, and beckoning.

Georgia, we will see each other again. I now know the way.

So, until next time…


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