As we’re leaving for Germany this week, Shota and I ran off to Kakheti again last weekend to refresh and, of course, visit his sister.
The magical thing about venturing outside of Tbilisi is that you may as well be stepping back in time. Donkeys pull wooden carts loaded with fresh veg, plump pigs wait patiently outside butchers shops and groups of old men play checkers to pass the time.
There’s really no choice but to be away from the internet and screens when you’re seemingly in the 1900s. My iPhone can only connect to wifi when I’m out in Tbilisi anyway, let alone in the village. I actually quite like not being able to find internet access much outside and will probably continue with it even when I’m back in the UK. It forces me to read or observe what’s going on around me and is great when you make plans to meet someone and they can’t contact you to change last minute.
Thanks to this, I’m probably not as reliant on technology as I used to be and I am capable of entertaining myself without it. I think it’s necessary sometimes. Life seems slower and you’re consuming less which I’ve become quite conscious of recently as I want my creation and consumption rates to be balanced. You know, to make sure my brain still works properly.
I highly recommend if you’re feeling worn out or overwhelmed by many things happening in your life (I am, I move to another country in two days and haven’t even started packing) then just switch off and pamper yourself the old-fashioned way. Read a book or go for a walk, I promise you won’t feel worse for it.
Anyway, on with the trip!
We woke late and caught a marshrutka at Ortachala, after a rather heated discussion with a taxi driver in Isani. We had some time to kill so wandered around the seemingly-abandoned station.
I’m not so familiar with this part of town, but it really does feel unchanged. I’m sure the drivers are still the same as when it opened too. We stocked up on some bananas, M&Ms and water and soaked up the Autumn sunshine.
This hat always gets me weird looks but it’s by far the best money I’ve spent in the last year. It’s so warm, find it here (for a bargain price!) or otherwise I’m sure there are similar ones in most high street shops.
There’s always an opportunity to make friends as well!
We slowly headed towards the marshrutka, quietly dreading the long, uncomfortable journey ahead. The only time I have an issue with being tall is when I travel by marshrtuka, my knees always end up by my ears with a pile of bags and coats on my lap. It doesn’t help that they actually install extra seats in he gangway to fit in more people – I’m surprised noone gets strapped to the roof!
Atleast it’s easy to appreciate the scenery on the way…
We arrived at sunset, which only made the Caucasus Mountains look more incredible and alive.
Shota’s sister, Keti, had already cooked Adjaruli khachapuri for us which has to be one of the best meals to eat when you’re cold and hungry. It’s also not too difficult to make (compared to other khachapuris anyway).
The next day was a little more eventful. After what has to be one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in ages, I woke up to Shota telling me that everyone was waiting for me to help make khinkali.
Fortunately for me, we prepared some potato ones as well. By the way, good luck to explaining to Georgians and especially Kakhetians why you’re vegetarian and just hope someone there is sympathetic enough to give you potatoes. Win win.
I’ve made khinkali once with Keti before so felt like a pro this time round. It was quite a therapeutic process, weirdly mechanic as everyone had their role before passing on to the next.
After that indulgent breakfast, we decided to head towards Ilia’s lake near Kvareli to make the most of the weather. We wanted to make churchkhela too but ran out of time, although the neighbour was kind enough to load us up with some to take back to Germany.
I love driving through the village and just seeing how these people live. Some of them have hardly left the region and yet you can see by their faces that they have some impressive stories to tell.
We finally got to Ilia’s lake and were greeted by some local dogs – just look how happy they are!
We lounged around for a while, Shota and Keti chatting while her kids played. I almost fell asleep on a rope swing which is exactly how Sundays should be spent.
Although I was sure to get a glimpse of the view before we made our way back. Just look at those colours!
As well as seeing if anyone was home – they’ve flown the nest!
By the time we left we had to rush to make the last marshrutka back to Tbilisi. It’s quite overwhelming compared to the slow plod of village life but atleast there’s internet access again.
Even if you spend an evening or even an hour without screens and technology I’m sure you’ll feel better for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and social media as much as the next person but it’s definitely worth stepping back and realigning your own perspectives and motives away from what everyone else seems to be doing.
Let me know if you give it a try and how you find it. I was inspired by Estée Lalonde’s detox – although it’s a good excuse for an escape to the country as well!