This “townlet” is a great place to chill for a few days. The mountain air is lovely and refreshing although it is seriously cold compared to everywhere else I’ve been in this region at this time of year!
George, who I met in the car on my way here was a great guy to know – a traditional musician in a little folk band. He invited Cassiana and I to a performance of theirs up by the church the morning after we arrived and he even offered us a lift to save us a couple of hours of hiking!!
The performance was for a group of Chinese students, whose tour leader had arranged this for as a surprise! That was quite cute. The band played and sang five traditional songs and it was a beautiful experience up there surrounded by mountains and near the Gergeti Church.
We met Peter and hung out exploring the church for quite a while.
I must say though, the church rules frustrated me more than ever before. I’ve never seen such a comprehensive list of clothing that is forbidden. Women can’t even wear trousers…
It was a very beautiful spot and we sat gazing out over Mount Kazbegi enjoying the sunshine.
After a few hours we strolled down to the town enjoying some more breathtaking scenery.
Cassiana and I went back to the guesthouse so she could study for an orthodentistry exam and I was enjoying the view.
An Isolated Incident
We had an issue at the guesthouse and I want to be brief because I don’t like reliving it. It’s nothing too dramatic but it is definitely the worst thing that’s happened to me while I’ve been travelling.
The guesthouse was being run by the owner’s uncle while she visited Tbilisi. He was absolutely unfit to run a guesthouse. He got very very drunk with his friends at the guesthouse and then was behaving entirely inappropriately towards Cassiana and I to the point where I had to lock our door to stop him barging in. Cassiana phoned the owner who was very callous; this woman then phoned the uncle to see what was going on and this enraged him to the point where he was trying to knock down our door to get to us. Horrible experience. We packed our bags and waited for it to calm down before we tried to leave and we had asked Peter to come and meet us at the property in case anything happened. As we walked out the man went crazy and was grabbing us and swinging Cassiana around and being vile and yelling abuse in Russian but otherwise speaking in Georgian. He followed us out into the street and was doing the same out there, with a few people around. It was very horrible. I was in a dilemma with the self defence that I know and it played on my mind for a while afterwards. I could have made the man stop, but he was a very drunk, middle-aged man who could have easily been injured if I had pushed him away on the rocky track. This was always my dilemma with self defence – at what point is it the point of no return where you should really step in and end what’s going on? The man punched Peter in the face, and I felt guilty for getting Peter involved, but aside from that we were unharmed aside from being badly shaken up and scared.
I didn’t really tell many people what had happened, I just spoke to my Krav Maga instructor and he gave me the reassurance that I needed. But I was actually fairly traumatised by what happened, more from knowing that I decided to film what happened rather than to take action.
We spent the whole evening in the police station, explaining and re-explaining what had happened, giving statements to translators on the phone and then face-to-face. They didn’t want to help us and they didn’t want to take formal statements or to open “an investigation”. We kept being told that if we opened an investigation then we would all have to stay in the town until it was completed, and initially they said it would take at least 8 days for them to investigate. The kind translator on the phone seemed to be sympathetic to us for the fact that the police were just saying whatever it took for us to just drop it and go away. Eventually they took formal statements and said they could conduct the investigation without us being there.
It’s a shame really, the guesthouse was in a lovely location with one of the best views in town. The owner seems to be a lovely woman but she made a misjudgment when she let her uncle take over when she wasn’t around. There’s not even a blot on the guesthouse’s record because she cancelled the booking.com reservation when things went wrong so that we couldn’t leave a review.
And that was that really. Cassiana and I moved to a guesthouse near the police station. It seems like a great place with lovely owners and a nice living room and it was a great price. We got up and pretty much went straight to the bus station the next day. I went back to meet Seb at the train station in Tbilisi to get an overnight train to Baku.