21st of September

I escape early to take pictures of the dilapidated houses of the neighborhood that David didn't dare to show me in daylight.
Get lost a few times but find the hotel soon again each time. Lot of cats.
David arrives with flowers and my breakfast. Very sweet of him. He receives Estonian souvenirs in exchange.
This time the car is RAV4. Otherwise familiar but the spare tyre is on the back door and the color is red. I can show the location of strategic buttons.
Direction towards Davit Gareja monasteries that were built by old men from Syria some time in the 6th century. We enter into desert which means that it starts to drizzle. Good enough, in Gobi it was raining cats and dogs. Real moonscape, reminds me of Mongolia or the mountains near Son Kul. Water has carved deep fissures between the mountains. Georgian war dance from car CD fits very well into this landscape.
The main draw, Davit Gareja monastery, is filled with Italian pensioners and has been renovated to be quite characterless. I keep stubbornly saying that there must be some more places to see. Luckily I mention a picture of queen Tamar that should be here somewhere. This is important to a Georgian. It turns out that pictures of her a rare and David didn't know that one is in that area. We balance along the Georgian-Azeri border and agree to be both Estonians in case we should fall to the wrong side. The relationship between neighbors doesn't seem to be the best one, especially taken into consideration that some of the monasteries are located on the Azeri side and of course both countries think that they ought to have them. What do Azeri Muslims do with Christian cave-monasteries anyway?
We arrive at John the Baptist's monastery in one piece. The man there doesn't know anything about Tamar's picture. An older monk isn't pleased with his ignorance. He gives me a headscarf and describes to Nikolaus where the picture is to be found. We climb after him along the mountain caves. The church consists of three chapels and Tamar is sure there. Well, blissful soviet time filled the cave with rubbish so it requires some imagination to recognize her. Awesome place nonetheless.
Our guide shows us his small cave which is tidy, with a colorful carpet. As it clearly was God's will that we get there, he gives us handful of candies. A local puppy tries to chew a hole into my hand.
A bit down one can see a more recent cave that was diged to be a picnic-spot for Shevardnadze.
On our way back we hunt a falcon who sits patiently on a column but refuses to look into the camera.
For lunch there's Georgian snickers or churchkhela that means nuts in grape juice. Tastes good, a lot better than in Turkey where it was impossible to chew this thing.
Before Signagi we stop by St Nino's church with colorful frescoes. So that's how they look like when the church is not located in Turkey. Next to the church goes a path down to a holy spring. If you dive in there three times, it will cure you of all diseases. Sounds intriguing. According to David the way down is long and even longer back up. At least one hour one way. Yeah right, always the same with locals. We make a deal that I go on foot and David will meet me down with the car. Some steps and some forest and after 10 minutes I'm down. Exactly. David appears after about half an hour. I get a big white thing from the nun, have to put it on and step into water. It's dark. And cold. And funny. Afterwards I have to take the thing with me and put it on in case I should get sick. Miracles of faith.

Checking in to the hotel, the receptionist isn't even trying to hide his surprise when we ask for two separate rooms. In a town where people come mainly to get married or for their honeymoon. Luckily I find out only later that David tells him some kind of story of us just breaking up.
Dinner will be on the city wall. Quite recently, that is in about the 17th century a wall was built around Signagi. From far away it looks a bit like the Chinese wall. Singers are commandeered to the table to sing for me. The songs are nice. The view is on the valley filled with clouds. No Caucasus in sight. I'm not good at all in toasting.
After dinner we criss-cross the city, eat fruits and drink cognac. Stars appear that gives hope for clear weather tomorrow. Roam around the hotel until midnight.
My mail box is filled with notifications that a lot of people have written something on my face-book page. From some countries it is difficult to log in there. Internet dies as well.
five hours in Kiev

Add a comment

Email again: