The Caucasus Mountains are stunning, with the highest peak over 5,000 meters. We went for a 3 day trek and were rewarded with:
– Amazing Georgian hospitality in villages with less than 100 people
– Great company of four Belgian guys who raced up the hills and inspired us to hike at home
– Breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers
– 2 passes with climbs of more than 3,000ft, and one reaching 9,000ft at the top
– Way too much food, all home made from their own gardens and animals
– Many blisters from our ill-suited shoes
– Fast moving river that required a horse to cross (Katie last rode a horse at Camp Abe Lincoln, age 5)
– Drinking mineral water out of springs
– Checkers master masquerading as a trekking guide
– The most incredible shepherd dogs (the size of lions) that are known to kill wolves, yet one liked to cuddle
We recommend Georgia whole heartedly.
While Roger enjoyed a Cuban cigar and we shared a bottle of Georgian wine in the town square (directly in front of the police station), we were joined by the town drunk. After an extended non-conversation full of phrase books, gesticulation, countless uncomfortable moments, and inquiries by the locals as to whether we were being pestered, a local policeman came to check on our merry party. In turn, he decided to join the party, and Katie had them both enthralled as she perfected her Georgian phrases.
How does one jump start a cooking fire . . . with a hair dryer of course. We are absolutely using this trick when we get home. The meal in question was superb, after an afternoon wine tasting in the Kakheti region of Georgia, which is thought by archeologists to be the birthplace of wine nearly 8,000 years ago.
After witnessing the skilled act by the veteran local puppeteer and without invitation, our troop of fellow travelers stormed the stage to test our puppetry skills. The puppet master received 4 years of training for his craft and was adept and entertaining. Despite the expert coaching: “dance like your puppet, dance like your puppet,” our version would struggle to please an audience. Thankfully we were the audience. While unbelievable, one of our fellow travelers had played an obscure instrument in a puppet show for 3 years in college. How does one end up in a puppet orchestra?
Attention all thieves. We are carrying our cash in the above pink Barbie pencil case. Myanmar is extremely strict that USD bills must be pristine and are the only exchange to local currency. One fold, tiny crease, or mark and it will be rejected. After an extensive search and tiered selection process, we declined Winnie the Pooh and went with fashion forward Barbie to protect our bills.
If you are walking down the highway and cannot find a taxi, airport security will give you a free ride. Though we did did tip them 4 tamarind candies.
The Gibbon Experience” is a conservation project funded by eco-tourism to protect incredibly endangered Gibbons, lesser (and smaller) apes. These apes made their presence known with alien space-ship karaoke songs sung both mornings promptly at 6am. We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the dense jungle accessed by 4×4, hiking, and a network of zip lines, most are over 200m long and the longest is 550m long, carrying you well over 150m above the valley floor.
We happened upon a poisonous green tree snake as well as a respectable number of leeches that required stopping every few minutes to flick them off your shoes. Turns out that wearing shorts was better than long pants. While a leech enjoyed a solid snack of Roger’s ankle, one of his bolder brethren climbed all the way up the inside of Katie’s long pants (Katie: a.k.a. “The Flying Squirrel,” zip-liner extraordinaire) and had a four course meal at the top of her thigh, only to be discovered by the amount of blood soaked through her pants. This is why they are called adventure trousers.
The treehouse is 50m off the ground and offers an incredible panoramic view above the forest canopy.
Great time, although we left a little light-headed and a few pints lighter.