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Old 06-21-2013, 08:48 AM   #421
SS in Vzla.
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Location: Banana Republic of Black Gold
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Can't see the photos. Is it only me?
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Old 06-21-2013, 09:20 AM   #422
Throttlemeister
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Can't see the photos. Is it only me?
Working fine here in Oklahoma, must be that crappy VZ connection you got
This Africa report has got me thinking I should go to Africa before Russia and Asia. That DRC stuff was off the hook Ready to load up the family in the LC and run the support wagon, we could have one hell of a time
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Old 06-21-2013, 10:51 AM   #423
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Brilliant , finally of new adventures...

I go once again, to follow you very attentively
It's a pity whom I am not on your road, I shall have like having a drink with you...
See you very soon...

good road and good luck
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Old 06-21-2013, 01:19 PM   #424
SS in Vzla.
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Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Banana Republic of Black Gold
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Originally Posted by Throttlemeister View Post
Working fine here in Oklahoma, must be that crappy VZ connection you got
This Africa report has got me thinking I should go to Africa before Russia and Asia. That DRC stuff was off the hook Ready to load up the family in the LC and run the support wagon, we could have one hell of a time
Oh... so you DO have a working internet connection!
Get working on YOUR own RR!

Probably the Cuban police intercepted the pictures of the Romanian spies
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:06 PM   #425
Bendernz
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Can't see the photos. Is it only me?
Not just you I can't see any either.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:19 AM   #426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throttlemeister View Post
Working fine here in Oklahoma, must be that crappy VZ connection you got
This Africa report has got me thinking I should go to Africa before Russia and Asia. That DRC stuff was off the hook Ready to load up the family in the LC and run the support wagon, we could have one hell of a time
So far to be honest I can't agree more about Africa. It's the most amazing place on Earth and we also are constantly thinking that we should go back.

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Originally Posted by IVAN38 View Post
Brilliant , finally of new adventures...

I go once again, to follow you very attentively
It's a pity whom I am not on your road, I shall have like having a drink with you...
See you very soon...

good road and good luck
Thanks, Ivan. Maybe our paths will cross in the future ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Oh... so you DO have a working internet connection!
Get working on YOUR own RR!

Probably the Cuban police intercepted the pictures of the Romanian spies
Sorry about the picture. So far there are some problems in South America and NZ apparently. I think is a KGB/Securitate conspiracy :P.

So we cross in Georgia:

Where Pigs Roam Free


A Lada, ages old and so worn out that rust free flows over its bonnet. Three trucks with Istanbul number plates, overloaded with merchandise. A moped - the seat covered in what used to be a sheep's skin, the handlebars embellished with trinkets - *a Chinese vehicle that was made for the countryside. A 4x4, white of course, with the shiny rims that suggest a recent prosperity of someone barely out of the communist doom. The eclectic gathering of vehicles and people queues in front of the Turkish police, while left and right pedestrians try to pass through with the familiar border swagger. Many don't have any identification documents, some have corn and rags falling out of their scruffy bags, all have a smirk in the corner of the mouth. It smells of boiled corn - the gipsy ladies tempt us with their steaming pots. But we need to hurry up a bit. The turks stamp us quickly out of the former empire.







We don't need a visa for*Georgia. Blinded by the scorching sun, we pull the clutch and slide over to the other side of the geo-political line. Now, this is proper mess: hoards of customs people, money changers, commuters and random dudes out to make a buck in this godless hangout. Only the two Romanians with their scarlet sunburnt faces were missing from this picture!





Ana jumps from one foot-peg to the other, hoping that she'll make to the nearest toilet before it's too late. What documents do we need for the bikes? I ask the lady officer who grabs my passport with a neatly manicured hand. The woman snaps me, then she starts staring at our biometric passports like they'd come out of Jason Bourne's bag. Yeah, thiese Romanians and their fake passports... Do you have a driving license? she says. Of course I do. I mean, do you have it here, with you? she asks again. Have you lost your marbles woman, like I'd drive all this way without it, here it is. Right, that's all I need from you, she says. What colour is your motorbike? I tell her what's in the documents, even if there's little left of the KTM's orange and the DRZ's yellow. The bigger tanks and our bags do a good job at confusing anybody about what's what.







And we pass. While I'm squeezing a smile for the bouquet of mobile phones out to snap me, Ana sorts out her emergency. You wouldn't believe how futuristic the Georgian customs building is, perhaps Zaha Hadid herself has gotten involved. Neah... And the building is not the only startling detail. At the first gas station we can still pay with our VISA, everything is neat and organized, and there's even a passer by who speaks some English and who teaches us the first words in Georgian... This is gonna be too easy, I tell Ana, we'll get bored.
But the road leads us to the border of the sea, and I have to bite my tongue for what I've just said. This Black Sea is again another: it may be grey on our side of the pond, quite blue in Turkey, but here is turquoise - I can hardly believe my eyes! Poor Ana struggles to catch a glimpse of this beauty, as she is being assaulted by the Georgian drivers.
You might have heard of them - the worst of this side of the world. It don't matter who they are in real life, when they are behind the wheel, they behave like they own the road. They take over on whichever side they please and any place they can shove their vehicle through. They pass the yellow light, the red light and zig-zag beyond the two bikers with alien number plates. They wave the left arm thru the window and keep the right firmly on the horn. I don't know what they use to actually stir the car, but I can tell where their foot is: on the throttle. When we least expect it, one of these crazy drivers zooms across, cuts in line, only to abruptly pull over a couple of meters down the road. The another follows suit. then another... Puah, Istanbul was a child's play compared to these guys. I feel like I did on my first day, in Bulgaria, says Ana in the headset. I have little to console here. Keep calm and your eyes open, I say ,and I stay behind her to try to have her back covered as much as I can.
As we are getting adjusted to the Georgian traffic, we roll into a dusty provincial town where we feel it's time to grab a bite. The place reminds us of Romania - socialist shops now bearing the colours of international brands, stuffed toys laid out to dry... and the most surprising fact of them all is that our waiter is gay :) He brings us our first sample of the famed local cuisine: *khatchapuri - a cheese pie that has become a national obsession. Quite tasty by the way.







Obviously we are no longer in a Muslim country. The younger women wear short skirts and their hair is waving freely in the wind. The older women are another reminder of life the eastern block: plenty are in mourning attire and wear the red hair and cheap shoes of a bolshevik wife who after doing her duty to the society (kids, 25 years in the line of some repetitive and fruitless job), has let herself go. While these ladies gossip at the junction, some men regroup around our bikes, to grope and debate. The food is certainly not bad, the people are super friendly - I think we are going to have a good time in Georgia! Do I need to mention that the petrol has again a reasonable price?
Soon the subtropical Georgian seaside and the stalls with citrus fruits are behind us. We ride thru the handsome villages of the western central plains: cute houses, clean alleys, people at work, children at play...a peaceful vibe that feeds our good mood.







Out in the distance looms what we've come here for: the Caucasus. The snow capped mountain is like a smile on a beautiful face.



Along the road we pass by a few monuments that make us suspect that these people have a quirky taste for the grandiose. But the bus stations are where the georgian artistic spirit really shines. I'm sorry that we were too lazy to execute the plan to shoot a set of pics of these bus stations: cubist or avant-garde, covered in mosaic or in stainless steel, they must have been designed with the passengers in mind. Cause *they'll wait for their buses for a loooong time, so they'd better have some interesting building to look at.



Watch out for the cows, I tell Ana in the headset. And watch out for the geese. And for the... but I never get to finish my sentence because *I'm too surprised to identify the next animal. It's man's friend and his supplier of sausages, good times and coronary stroke: the pig.



But the Georgian pigs are like no others. Small, big, black or spotted, with a full head of hair or bald as a Chihuahua, these pigs are free. To roam, to chill in muddy trenches, to enjoy life. Does this make their meat more tender and juicy? Only someone from around here could enlighten us on the matter. From a house across the road comes Vera.





Let's ask her what's what. How does your pig find its way back home? But our Russian is so rubbish that we barely manage to exchange some greetings. Vera insists we should come stay at her place. Frankly, we're tempted, but the day is young and we have a long way ahead of us. So we'll postpone deciphering the mystery of the pig for another time. I promise that in Mestia I'll do my best to settle this issue. I'll use for evidence the Georgian minced meat dumplings, the famous khinkhali.
For now we keep our focus on the road. We do about 80 km of Georgian Transfagarasan. We pass along a water dam and an artificial lake which reminds us of Vidraru in Romania's Fagaras mountains. There's plenty of options for wild-camping. And tonight we settle for a daffodil infested spot with a view of*Abkhazia.





The neighbour's dogs keep barking all night around our tent. Our presence has stirred their curiosity. But we find more unsettling the military convoy that drives by, arriving from the poor separatist republic. In the morning my Shorai battery is discharged (perhaps because of the GoPro that was charging in my tank bag?). I fix the problem with what I have around:





The winding Georgian Transfagarasan that I mentioned earlier offers Ana a good chance to practice and acquire new riding skills. Hour by hour she leans lower and her track gets smoother. Her progress is evident, she can now manoeuvre the DRZ thru the boulders that have fallen of the mountain without getting distracted by the sharp abyss on the left side of the road. We're both enjoying our sunny day in the mountains.







Just as in Romania, one will often encounter in Georgia the many skeletons of the socialist collectivisation. From diminutive bus stations to immense production warehouses and former factories. Some have become a shelter for cows, and offer a surrealist impression of how nature claims back what man has abandoned.





Fascinated by the weird vibe of the place, we lose track of time and end up spending a lot of time with the cows. Damn! we were supposed to be far by now...





















Soon the road changes. It's still tar, but the surface is made of precast concrete slabs, not so neatly weaved, so we need to pay attention or our wheels will slide into the cracks. At one time Ana doesn't, and she takes a tumble. Not a problem for this Rukka gear, which so far has been fail proof. And I gotta say that Ana has plenty of reasons to lose her focus. The many 4000-5000 m high peaks of the Caucasus offer a breathtaking and luring horizon to aim at.







You do realise we're heading that way, don't you? we both say to each other in our headsets, giggling with joy. Man, we're lucky to be here, Georgia is such a stunning country, and we had no idea! Our destination is Upper*Svaneti, the more remote and mountainous region of the country. This is just one of the distinct ethnographic parts of*Georgia, a country that is not a melting pot, but rather a mosaic of four cultures that have each their own language and traditions. Svaneti is the land of the most stubborn of the whole bunch, the ones who did not negotiate with the traders, nor did they kneel in front of the foreign invaders, or let themsleves deceived by the missionaries. They managed to stand by their beliefs and lifestyle until late in the 18th century, when they got eventually engulfed into the Russian empire. To keep on eye on the unwanted visitors, the Svan people built atop their homestead not just oven furnaces, but veritable fortified watch-towers. These towers have become the trademark of this small nation of warriors and herders, and soon they start popping out, dominating still with their decrepit but svelte bodies this rural backcountry.











As we're in the highlands, spring water is widely available. It's also a good reason to stop and flex our limbs. I need to fiddle with Ana's handlebar, which is a bit askew. The story of this is that because Ana is so short, sometimes it happens that she stops in a spot where the surface is not so smooth. So if she misses that extra centimetre to put both tip-toes on the ground, she may need to put the bike down as gently as she can. So yeah...that happens less often these days, and in time, with more practice, she'll learn to balance herself out on one side and avoid such incidents.





This is a good example of what I'm talking about:



We arrive in Mestia tired and hungry. The town has a boring vibe: dusty, a bit overdeveloped, a bit socialist. It's not the case of the police station, in stark contrast withe rest of the settlement - I believe some architects in this country have their subscriptions for El Croquis in order ;) In the shops we find chocolate, flavoured yoghurt and other globally acclaimed fluff, and little local produce - sulguni, a Georgian cheese with a texture similar to mozzarella, matsoni - the local yoghurt, similar to sour milk, dried fish and bread.







But I have a duty to the pig - I am to find out what freedom does to his meat, or else. I need to find a local food joint to investigate. Some passer-byes guide us to a restaurant that reminds me of the new year parties of the 80s. Monumental furniture, house of Dracula kind of atmosphere, a handful of guests and bored staff. Funny though: on the wall there's a sign that the place has been built with funding from USAID Georgia. Anyway, we order a gargantuesque dinner, in the style of Anthony Bourdain. We ask for anything that is available on the menu and that has a strange sounding name. To our pleasing, what arrives at the table smells and tastes of yumminess. Georgia cuisine is quite famous, and we sample a different variety of smoked sulguni, maizebread with cheese, kubdari - the carnivore's take on*khatchapuri. Of course we try the pig dumplings, the khinkhali. The ex-comunist waitress/ chef teaches us how to eat them: we must hold them by the place on top where the dough has been sealed, bite a small piece off, then slurp the hot soup before eating the minced meat filling. Mmmmm... it's so good! Spicy, flavoured with coriander. When we think we're done with the meal, our chef brings a beef stew, the ostri. What we cannot finish we'll take in a doggy bag. The bill is not cheap, but not expensive either - 8-10 dollars. You must bear with us, after Africa we got used to eating an entire day on this budget!



The thing is that after Mestia the next 44 km to the village of Ushguli are 100% off-road. It'll be interesting to see how will Ana cope. She clutches on, gives it a bit of gas, and follows me, vibrating in the beat of her mono-cylinder. A first hairpin, a bouldery slope... and off we go. True must be told - before the first real river crossing Ana loses it for a moment, so I jump at her help and carry her and her bike across. I guess she's not ready, and frankly I can see why these white waters aren't an easy feat for a rookie.





We cross path with a jolly group: 4 Polish tourists in a 4x4, a rental. They're coming back from where we're heading to. They are in awe of the place and of our story, especially as they learn that Ana is in her early riding days. But I'd better let her share what it feels like:
Ana:*If up to here I might have learnt a minimum about motorcycle riding, tonight I have to start all over again. Granted the previous runs to our bushcamping spots informed me about what's to come. The dirt road is an awakening; a friendly, but firm slap on the cheek. Enough with the dull safety of the tarmac, enough with the oblivion of the highway, it says. You're gonna have to get down and dirty if you're to ride me. Well, cheers, I hope I can make it.
Since we left I've been complaining a lot about wrist pain: my hands are too small or the diameter of the handlebar is too big. This time it's not the case: as I vibrate and doodle my way on the rocks, I can feel my whole body on call. I hold the tank tight between my thighs. I try to believe that this Suzuki will get me out of this trouble I've found myself into. It is an interesting experience, more intimate than I've suspected. In city traffic and on tar there are rules to obey. If I do, I know that I'll be fine. I can hide - like everyone - behind these rules, I can pretend to be someone I might not be. No longer does this dirt trail afford such luxury. As the bike reveals the true character of the road, it certainly doesn't spare me. Whats happening between us is not dissimilar to the early stages of a relationship: it's a lot about trust, about fear, about opening myself up and being permeable to lessons and surely prone to failure. I don't know about others, but for me it's not easy. *I must suddenly own my gestures, my mistakes, my unavoidable cowardice, my shameful mistrust in this machine and tool that I am lucky to handle. This road will not allow a frustrated rider, clenched in a permanent rictus. Relief from stress means trust: confiding in the bike the power to pull me over, to command the brutal geometry of a road like this one. Which is not a true hardcore trail, not by a mile, but it's a proper introduction to what I should learn if I am to ride in Mongolia. I keep thinking that the road is about to swell into something more familiar, as many 4x4s pass us by on their way up. But it doesn't. It remains as compact, unnerving and volatile as a hand grenade. This journey Into The World is no longer for me about cultural immersion and shit like that. I gotta say, riding has become equally obsessive and self-consuming. Getting down to the simple elements of making it alive thru my day is both liberating, and an *opportunity to reframe what is really important. And I keep trying to give it my best.
Im not going to break any records.*Im doing it for the thrill of being on the open road, the wind in my hair, the rain dribbling down my waterproof suit, the tires dancing on unpredictable gravel. I might be bragging about this on our blog, or at backpackers hangouts - it may be difficult for me to help it, as it's such an empowering experience. So if if you meet me on the road, avoid me, I'm slow, clumsy and unconfident. For now.
This kind of driving does not allow a lot of soul searching or daydreaming as being a pillion did. Lucky for me the landscape is stunning enough to compensate for the mental exhaustion. Nature unfolds an almost unnatural arrangement of *composition and colour. To what, you might ask, should one cling: the riding experience or the views?
Anyway, tonight I'm too tired to be brave, so I stay in the first gear. John is in front, guiding me. I focus on his back wheel and try to follow his track. Mountain springs murmur in my ear. In a split of a split of a second I allow a quick peak. In all four winds the mountains offer stunning vistas of melting glaciers and bare rock. The sky is blue, embellished with fluffy clouds like a Windows wallpaper. Beautiful.
It'll get dark soon. We need to stop and look for a camping spot, says John. Okay, perhaps I'll afford a half an hour of jogging. You may think it's a ridiculous idea. Or you may know how good it feels to move other parts of your body when the rest has been decimated by exhaustion, and you understand.





Since we left Bucharest every bushcamp has been more beautiful than the previous one. For example, when John stumbled upon that abandoned camping on the border of the Black Sea, we were so desperate that we all we cared for was a flat surface to lay our heads on, yet we could take showers and do laundry and so on. I guess John has acquired a nose for these spots. Here it's already gorgeous, so I don't care if we sleep on rocks. My John pulls another good one though: let's ride a bit more, he says, I sense we can do better. And we do: a clearing blanketed in soft grasses. Flowers match the colours of our tent, isn't that cute? While John pitches the tent I can do some trail running - awesome!







Upon return in camp I receive a small bouquet :)





So I hang it inside our tent...



... and the next day on the fairing of my DRZ, for good luck. This is the view from our tent:



Just meters from our doorstep is the fresh mountain water, for washing and brewing a nice cuppa.





We eat, pack up and get back to the grind...



For me, the crash-course of motorcycling is yet to begin!


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Old 07-04-2013, 11:58 AM   #427
IVAN38
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Location: Veyrins , FRANCE
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Hello the friends
I hope that you are well
I look forward to new photos
See you very soon
Safe journey
All your photos are very beautiful
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Old 07-04-2013, 12:40 PM   #428
IVAN38
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Location: Veyrins , FRANCE
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DRZ-SM is a great motorcycle...

I regret mine...


Photos of 2006




It is so a little grace(favor) has she(it) that I am on ADVRIDER

Thank you DRZ
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Old 07-04-2013, 05:29 PM   #429
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Wohoo I can see the photos now. Spent the morning catching up on your ride and enjoyed it hugely.

Best of luck with the rest of the journey - I'm here with you in spirit.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:42 PM   #430
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Great photos and narritive... let us know if you ever want to come to the USA...
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:51 PM   #431
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IVAN38 View Post
DRZ-SM is a great motorcycle...

I regret mine...


Photos of 2006




It is so a little grace(favor) has she(it) that I am on ADVRIDER

Thank you DRZ
Whooowhoooo what a sick stoppie! The DRZ it's so nice. I really love the suspension set-up compared to the 690. All unless you start racing the 690 then the stiffness start to make sense :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bendernz View Post
Wohoo I can see the photos now. Spent the morning catching up on your ride and enjoyed it hugely.

Best of luck with the rest of the journey - I'm here with you in spirit.
Cheers Bendernz!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwilightZone View Post
Great photos and narritive... let us know if you ever want to come to the USA...
Thanks, TZ. Americas we're the initial plan (from south to north) but then everything got delayed, the weather just got bad in the south so we decided to go the more convenient and less expensive way. Who knows maybe in the future! We'd love to ride also the Americas.

Haunted Castles in Wonderland

Five hairpins ahead of us. Some go up, others go down. Go slow, will you? says John. The road is not the most forgiving, but at least it is dry.



This morning we are alone on the mountain. John looks like he's having a blast.





I'm taking it slow. Since we left I can't help thinking from time to time that for John it would be more fun to have a more experienced partner. Frankly, I'm doing my best to cope. I'm still scared, I'm still a coward (and I do feel guilty for being the party pooper), and he wait patiently while I gain confidence, and strength. The huge difference between us is not always fun to manage...
It smells of pine trees. The effect it has on me is similar to a cup pof strong coffee: it wakes me up and infuses my whole being with energy. My feet are barely shaking as I stop to take some photos.





I'm thirsty, I ask John, and I reach for the plastic bottle attached to my spare tires. Oups, again we've lost one? This is usually a reason to fight, it pisses us both to waste all this plastic for the precious liquid that the mountain offers for free. But these are necessary outlets that allow to regulate any tensions we might have accumulated along the way: the exhaustion of the body, the emotional stress. Small details... *Frankly, the best way to clear our mind the stretch our muscles is doing some good old trails. I was not aware that the mudd has such a therapeutic effect (even if it's not applied directly on the skin...).







Need I say how cool and rewarding does it feel to feel my back tyre sliding and the bike going berserk, but to make it to the other side of some random swampy pond? Need I say that even my wrists stopped aching, and that I can swear I hear fairies serenading songs through the roar of my engine? But don't get too cocky Ana, you've barely done a few miles of dirt, and even those at snail-speed. Keep you head down, and keep doing the grind. How many more? I ask John. About 17 kms to Ushguli. Wow, we've done half. Let's have a bit of rain...



But the sky is just frowning. The rain will spare us for a while, so we need to step up our game.





These bends will make anyone smile. Too bad the intercoms are not working anymore, so we cannot shout to each other how great does this place feel. In the background of this motorcycling wonderland, the fortified scan towers start popping up like some kind of haunted castles of a mysterious alien race.
After two hours of riding we pass a settlement: the man are knocking about, loading bags of something into a truck. There's no rush: because of the bad weather the truck can't go nowhere. They need to wait for the road to soak up the rain, so there's plenty of time for a beer! The trail is a mushy smelly concoction of dung and mud, and we are happy to find again the stagnant pools of water outside the village. I take John's advice and example, and avoid the deceiving trails that go around the ponds, and ride straight through. A bit of throttle, and it works like magic.
Soon we start climbing higher and higher. The dirt is gradually being replaced by gravel and boulders, and the trees are just a memory of the past. So no more mud, only the abyss on the left side of the road opens deeper and deeper. We have no choice but to slide on its edge, as we have less than 3 meters to negotiate with any passing 4x4 that would never make place for us (we are met with joyful waves tho'!). Only 5 more kilometres to go! says John. That's it, the rain cannot bear with us no more, it starts pouring. It melts the road and feed the streams that run along the ravines. Some river crossings though, are still not something I can tackle in full confidence. So John jumps to my help.





It's raining cats and dogs. And we're so hungry, having barely taken our breakfast hours ago. Suddenly the mountain pulls over, like a curtan of rock, and behing it we see the valley cracking open to allow a peek over Ushguli. Our destination.





We're almost there. One more ditch to cross, and I hesitate. In this utterly fantastic mountainscape, I slide, loose control of the bike, and after a few split seconds of remembering the fall of Jackass's Knoxville, I hit the ground with the entire 150 ok DRZ and luggage on top.
John lifts the bike off me, and I stand up. I'm fine, except for some pain in my left ribs. Could I have cracked a couple? But the bike looks depressing, at least to me it does. I make the inventory of this small and shameful disaster: broken mirror, cracked fairing, broken windshield. The most difficult to stomach is the blow to my pride: I've almost made it without any incident, almost...! As ridiculous as it may sound, I feel so pissed that I start crying. As my eyes wet, rain becomes gale. Thank you mother nature!
I'll leave for another time the technical details: why the fairing cracked in a rather minor impact etc. I'm too busy feeling sorry for myself, while the villagers look at the scene as if we were some sort of aliens :) I'd say this guy with his mobile looks more unusual than I do :)
In Ushguli we sort out accommodation: it's too cold and too wet and we are too miserable to camp. We find a small guesthouse where there are two more foreigners. Callum is a social worker from Ireland, travelling with Hakan, who is Turkish, but who teaches political science in Glasgow. They have arrived with a guy from Tbilisi, Khaha, who works for*CENN, a Georgian NGO. Khaha is a close friend of our host, so we feel like in a family. Tico's wife sets up the table for a late lunch, and man, how it feels to grab a bite.



But the best medicine for our sorrow and exhaustion comes late at night. Tico is happy to have his house full and says that he can sense we are just like his friends. This dinner is going to be like no other. The wife covers the table with plates full of delicious salads, jam, honey, homemade butter and cheese and many more goodies. It's time for*supra! A Georgian tradition that blends a food orgy with serious amounts of alcohol and plenty of toasting.



To Georgia! starts Tico. To peace! shouts Khaha after we have sipped from our glasses, which are filled with a cloudy homemade wine. To friendship! says Tico, and we have to drink again from the vinery liquid that burs our stomach and inebriates the mind. Hours pass, the math teacher arrives at the supra as well, and the men start singing and dancing. I cannot say how much alcohol was consumed, as the refills were discreet, but very prompt. Let's assume it was enough to allow us to crawl into our beds for a heavy, yet restful sleep.











In the morning we feel rejuvenated, except for the mild hangover. We go out for a walk.



John:*The fortified svan houses are today just outlines of what they used to be - a wooden beams suggests a supporting structure for what may have been an attic, a pile of rocks could have served for a porch. In the eastern part of Ushguli (which is made up for three different villages) the more modern habitat has engulfed the old. There are 5 guest houses, even small tea house. This resurrection of tourism brings important capital into this remote region that is also an UNESCO heritage site. We climb the path that leads to where the most interesting buildings have survived.



There are quite a few Caucasian shepherds hanging around. This old guy can barely see us, but he is happy to cuddle.









It's quiet, if not for the feeric scenery in the background I'd say it's a tad sinister. Evidently the originar structures have been altered by their inhabitants to accommodate whatever their needs were, so it's difficult to be sure how old these things are until a proper study is conducted. Similar fortified houses exist in other regions, like Albania! In winter the best way to move around is by wooden sledge.













Even if Georgia is one of the first nations to have adopted Christianity - as early as the 4th century - the small church has been built quite recently. Up on the hill there is a lonesome tower - possibly for observation or to serve as orientation for the commuters.













From up here, the valley has an indecible charm.













The streets are populated with cows, sheep and of course - the star of our previous blog entry, the pig. .







Now, the next photos are for those many who keep asking where are we in our pics. So here we go (these are meant to be a joke and a nod to trolling)









As we descent, this guy blocks our way. As if he knows too well that we're gonna eat most of his wife's milk, after it's been made into delicious butter and*sulguni!



Khaha tells us that most svan families have inherited a fortified tower. The new regulations prevent them from tearing it down or modifying the existing structure, and it's for now impossible to sell either. Tico's parents, Shura - the mother *and Tabit, the father, also have one. Their cute niece has no idea what a special dowry she'll inherit!











Even if for now there is not enough money to restore Upper Svaneti to its former glory, at least there are efforts being made for the conservation of this astonishingly beautiful place. One of the most interesting for sure, that we have ever visited!
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Old 07-22-2013, 05:32 AM   #432
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As usual, magnificent photos, magnificent portraits
Safe journey for the continuation
I wait for you for new photos...
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:22 AM   #433
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keep goin' on !! nice to see you again on the "road"
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Old 08-08-2013, 10:44 AM   #434
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Just beautiful...

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Old 08-08-2013, 11:36 AM   #435
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Wow. Thanks for all your efforts to report this amazing place!
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