The cover shot for this post: A peaceful night with a nice view.  Out of sight from the road, comfortable temperature and the smell of pines trees to lull us to sleep. I was a bit worried about wolves up in the hills.... I heard a pack of wolves howling a couple nights before at another campsite near the river...but our invisibility shield worked well this night and no humans or animals found us or disturbed our sleep.

Daily Nest: Georgia

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Georgia’s wide open spaces made it easier to camp. But the early fall weather brought different challenges as we tried to shelter ourselves from cold, foggy and rainy nights.

Again, like in many other countries, our best nights were the ones where we stayed with locals.

 

However, Georgians, like their neighbors in Azerbaijan, are more serious types, and smiles come slow. Luckily, we were able to break the ice with our, uh, charming, charismatic personality blend of sad-looking, hunched-over tourists and brave walkers who can haul heavy backpacks with some amount of strength and finesse.

Sweet Maka

Our favorite nights in Georgia were with Maka in Okrokana.

Maka, the auntie-cousin of a friend back home, welcomed us with open arms, and gave us run of her family’s summer home. We chatted under pines trees and in the kitchen for many hours, and then parted ways to do our own stuff, reuniting later in the evening to share a meal and a bottle of wine or beer.

For me, being there was a big dose of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation that helped me break my summer slump (link).

Staying at Mama's house was a big dose of R&R.
Staying at Maka’s house was a big dose of R&R.
Five-star stays with locals

Other nights we found ourselves in the company of Azerbaijan shepherds; Armenian potato farmers; Georgian and Azerbaijan train workers, and Georgian monks and families.

Azerbaijani shepherds that live in Georgia move their cattle to the cooler Highlands during summer, and set up temporary camps like this. One night, two brothers invited us for tea, a hot meal and night rest in their "guest tent."
Azerbaijani shepherds that live in Georgia move their cattle to the cooler highlands during summer, and set up temporary camps like this. One night, two brothers invited us for tea, a hot meal and night rest in their “guest tent.” Outside, the fog came in and made for a cold night; inside, under thick blankets, we stayed warm and toasty.

 

Jenn collint patates
One afternoon, we came upon a group of people finishing lunch. They offered us a cup of beer before returning to work in the potato fields. The Armenian-Georgian brother and sister team in charge of the workers invited us to sleep at the brother’s house that night. Open to the personal contact we have on our walking journey, we accepted their invitation, and volunteered to help them fill sacks of potatoes (that’s me hunched over in the foreground). That evening, the teenagers gave us a tour of the village, which included a cemetery dating back to the mid-1850s and a small chapel with a natural spring running below it. The sister’s daughter-in-law made us popcorn, and the brother’s wife gave us spoonfuls of sheep meat and potatoes (of course), and made us fried eggs. They set up their living room as our guest room, and like the shepherds’ mentioned earlier accepted no money from us.

 

Nearing a +2,000 meter pass and concerned about the cold overnight temperatures, we asked workers helping to build the new railway connecting Baku, Azerbaijan with Kars, Turkey
Nearing  the +2,000- meter Paravani pass and concerned about the cold overnight temperatures, we asked workers  if we could stay in the recently built train station. The workers, who are helping to build an Azerbaijan-financed railway linking Baku, Azerbaijan with Kars, Turkey, and eventually Istanbul, made a few calls, got the okay to let us sleep in the room with the security guard, and made us a cup of tea. It was a much warmer alternative than sleeping outside with temperatures in the low teens (Celsius).

 

On the recommendation of two Catalan cyclists we met along the way, we stopped at the Zarzma Orthodox Christian monastery. It was a peaceful place and we spent hours staring at the beautiful mountain landscape. It was a good place to rest up for the 2,000 meter Goderdzi pass we tackled the next day. The brothers, kindly folk, allowed Lluis to sleep in one of the monastery rooms, and they made arrangements for me to sleep at a neighbor's house.
On the recommendation of two Catalan cyclists we met along the way, we stopped at the Zarzma Orthodox Christian monastery. It was a peaceful place, and we spent hours staring at the beautiful mountain landscape. It was a good place to rest up for the 2,000 meter Goderdzi pass we tackled the next day. The brothers –kindly folk– fed us and allowed Lluis to sleep in one of the monastery rooms,; they made arrangements for me to sleep at a neighbor’s house. We spent the evening listening to their beautiful songs sung in this very special place.

 

We arrived the town of Khulo and asked a grandmother peeling potatoes outside if her house was a guesthouse; we knew one was nearby. Lluis went downstairs to talk to her, and her husband, who was working in the garden, invited us to stay at their house, for free. Their teenage granddaughter, who has a good amount of English, is an amazing dancer, who performs the very exciting Georgian national and Adjara regional dances locally and internationally with her dance troupe. Her father pulled out the bottle of homemade chacha, strong, throat-burning Georgian liquor, and we toasted to their kindness, for strength for our onward journey and for good health for all of us.
We arrived the town of Khulo and asked a grandmother peeling potatoes outside if her house was a guesthouse; we knew one was nearby. Lluis went downstairs to talk to her, and her husband, who was working in the garden, invited us to stay at their house, for free. Their teenage granddaughter, who has a good amount of English, is an amazing dancer, who performs the very exciting Georgian national and Adjara regional dances locally and internationally with her dance troupe. Her father pulled out the bottle of homemade chacha, strong, throat-burning Georgian liquor, and we toasted to their kindness, for strength for our onward journey and for good health for all of us.

 

We ended up in this nice room as a result of "forced hospitality." We had a miserable walking day, soaked from rain and thunderstorms. We arrived at this house at the tail-end of one passing shower an with dark clouds still hanging overhead. We knocked on the door and asked if we stay under the porch awning for a while to dry off. The man, surprised to see us,  was quick to let us in, made us tea and offered us pieces of pastry. Although we still had a few kilometers pending, it was late enough in the day to think about setting camp somewhere; the approaching storm made that even more pressing. We asked if we could put our tent on the porch, under the roof shielding us from the rain. The man said we had to wait for his wife to come home.  "She is the boss," he said. We waited and waited, and finally, his wife arrived. She was hesitant at first, wondering who we were and how we ended up in her home that day, but looking at the sky, she yielded.There was a discussion about sleeping in a room or staying in the tent. We settled up on staying in the tent, so as not to create any hassle for the family. The wife insisted that we should sleep on the bed, that it was more comfortable and warmer. The rest of the evening we shared stories about our route and played with their sweet granddaughter.  In the end, we snuggled up in the bed. In this case, we decided to leave a few Katie (Georgian money) behind, knowing that could use the money for much-needed medicine.
We ended up in this nice room as a result of “forced hospitality.” We had a miserable walking day, soaked from rain and thunderstorms. We arrived at this house at the tail-end of one passing shower an with dark clouds still hanging overhead. We knocked on the door and asked if we stay under the porch awning for a while to dry off. The man, surprised to see us, was quick to let us in, made us tea and offered us pieces of pastry. Although we still had a few kilometers pending, it was late enough in the day to think about setting camp somewhere; the approaching storm made that even more pressing. We asked if we could put our tent on the porch, under the roof shielding us from the rain. The man said we had to wait for his wife to come home. “She is the boss,” he said. We waited and waited, and finally, his wife arrived. She was hesitant at first, wondering who we were and how we ended up in her home that day, but looking at the sky, she yielded.There was a discussion about sleeping in a room or staying in the tent. We settled up on staying in the tent, so as not to create any hassle for the family. The wife insisted that we should sleep on the bed, that it was more comfortable and warmer. The rest of the evening we shared stories about our route and played with their sweet granddaughter. In the end, we snuggled up in the bed. In this case, we decided to leave a few Katie (Georgian money) behind, knowing that could use the money for much-needed medicine.

 

Nights outside

We also spent many nights in September in our tent, camping near smaller, secondary mountain roads that curved around villages, rivers, lakes, forests and fields of cut grass, hay and harvested potatoes.

Some nights, thick fog wrapped our tent and thunderstorms passed through the area, making for several uncomfortable inside as condensation dampened our sleeping bags, something we fear will follow us into Turkey as we stay along the Black Sea coastline during October’s rainy season.

After a long, unexpected desert stretch with kilometers of nothingness, we needed to find a spot to sleep. Rustavi was too far away, and our only option was a spot along a ridge a few meters from the highway. The spot had great views of the city below, but seemed to be the place where locals come to drink, have sex and illegally dump their trash, based on the piles out of the frame of this shot. We knew the wind would be a problem, but we didn't realize how much of a problem it would be. Around midnight, the winds picked up and thunderstorms moved in below the ridge. They got close, moved out and new clouds and winds came, luckily never wetting us. But, we couldn't beat the wind, and for hours we watched one wall of the tent bend towards the other wall. At 3 a.m., afraid that the metals bars of the tent may break, we packed everything up and walked down a steep cow path - a shortcut- reconnecting to the main road. We made it to the emergency management office in town, and slept on the benches outside, waiting for first light.
After a long, unexpected desert stretch with kilometers of nothingness, we needed to find a spot to sleep. Rustavi was too far away, and our only option was a spot along a ridge a few meters from the highway. The spot had great views of the city below, but seemed to be the place where locals come to drink, have sex and illegally dump their trash, based on the piles out of the frame of this shot. We knew the wind would be a problem, but we didn’t realize how much of a problem it would be. Around midnight, the winds picked up and thunderstorms moved in below the ridge. They got close, moved out and new clouds and winds came, luckily never wetting us. But, we couldn’t beat the wind, and for hours we watched one wall of the tent bend towards the other wall. At 3 a.m., afraid that the metals bars of the tent may break, we packed everything up and walked down a steep cow path – a shortcut- reconnecting to the main road. We made it to the emergency management office in town, and slept on the benches outside, waiting for first light.

 

We are forever grateful for this bus stop after Goderdzi pass. It saved us from many overnight hours of pouring rain and fierce thunder shots. Although the winds blew rain our way and got our tent a bit wet, we couldn't imagine how we would have gotten through the night without a roof overhead and three walls giving us some refuge.
We are forever grateful for this bus stop after Goderdzi pass. It saved us from many overnight hours of pouring rain and fierce thunder shots. Although the winds blew rain our way and got our tent a bit wet, we couldn’t imagine how we would have gotten through the night without a roof overhead and three walls giving us some refuge.

 

The cover shot for this post: A peaceful night with a nice view.  Out of sight from the road, comfortable temperature and the smell of pines trees to lull us to sleep. I was a bit worried about wolves up in the hills.... I heard a pack of wolves howling a couple nights before at another campsite near the river...but our invisibility shield worked well this night and no humans or animals found us or disturbed our sleep.
The cover shot for this post: A peaceful night with a nice view. Out of sight from the road, comfortable temperature and the smell of pines trees to lull us to sleep. I was a bit worried about wolves up in the hills…. I heard a pack of wolves howling a couple nights before at another campsite near the river…but our invisibility shield worked well this night and no humans or animals found us or disturbed our sleep.
Lux days

A few nights, usually on the days that correspond with our non-walking rest days, we stayed in budget guesthouses. On those days, most of our time is dedicated to doing laundry, catching up on our journal and blog writing and prepping for the week’s walk ahead.

We spend our rest days in simple-nothing-special guesthouses doing admin tasks, like laundry, buying some food for the next week's walk and doing blogs like this one.
We spend our rest days in simple-nothing-special guesthouses doing admin tasks, like laundry, buying some food for the next week’s walk and doing blogs like this one.

 

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4 thoughts on “Daily Nest: Georgia”

  1. Fascinating as always. An amazing array of nests in Georgia. For a slightly reticent people, they certainly opened up for you two!

    1. Hi Bonnie, We are always surprised where we end up, too, and, equally surprised to see who takes us in. The sleeping thing is an everyday social studies experiment. Thanks as always for the boost, Jenn and Lluís

  2. I don’t know whether you’re finding this out from the others’ feedback, but I’m following you guys all the time, but don’t very often acknowledge the fact. Please rest assured that you are not hiking alone.
    John
    PS Thanks again for continuing the fascinating posts, and please do a book afterwards.

    1. Hello John, You’re the best. We know we have some loyal followers cheering us on out loud and in the quiet of their living rooms … we feel your love, in whatever form it comes in. Thank you!!

      Oh and a book…ugh!… no promises… it takes so much energy just to do a blog post these days. But who knows where life will lead us. It’s a mystery to us too 😉

      Big hugs!

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