17 Nov 2013

Round-trip 2.11.2013 Green Monastery, Vardzia, Rabati, Sapara, Borjomi

by Eva Čajková

This trip wasn't concentrated only within one day. Laura and Christine planed it for weeks. We rather prefer to call it excursion cause it was really kind of educational. It was a really full day which might seem quite exhausting and I must confess: first I didn't like idea of such a day. However now that the trip is over, I'm grateful to have participated.
I simply want discuss the facts about why we visited each place (Green Monastery, Vardzia, Rabati , Sapara, Borjomi). They were all so interesting, amazing and all other imaginable superlatives ‒ no need to highlight the facts that you can very simply find online. For facts just click on links above. But if you interesetd in my impressive diary style, you've came to the right place.
The day started in the time which I am used to count to the previous day, departure at 7am means waking up at 6am which I consider as a sleeping time sticked to the yesterday. Let's talk about marshutka experience for first time: it's always like drinking energy from tank ‒ you can't fall to the lethargy. One (except Georgians) simply have to be vigilant while sitting in marshutka. Naturally we rented "our own" marschutka with "our own" driver for such a trip so the aim was to occupy every simple chair. So finally there was really various composition of participants: "pure" Georgians, EVS volunteers from SIQA, EVS volunteers of GYE and Peace Corps Volunteers (from different organisations).
So, there were more fields for exploring: historical facts, current-day culture (concentrated mostly in our driver) and comparing the variety of volunteers's experiences.
Our first destination was Green Monastery, a calm and peaceful place close to Borjomi. There I had first opportunity to watch and listen (!) to a Georgian church service. Well, as I'm not informed enough yet, I can't even judge if it was actually mass or if they were preaching at Green Monastery 24/7. Still I have another eleven months to find out how churches works in Georgia. So far it sounded like the recitation of complete list of georgian names again and again and again in metronom allegro rythm.
Our second stop was Vardzia. We spent more time there than at other places because it would have been a pitty just to fly through. This cave town is really unique and; moreover, it's really an adventure to explore all these mysterios holes while thinking about the purpose of each hole; walking down steep and totally dark steps carved of stone, imagining that this is how the path to the hell looks. Unbelievebly charming!
The next place on the list was Rabati. While walking zig zag through this huge complex, I remembered the passages from my reading on postmodernism. Pastisch. Asamblage. New and old at once. Rabati is under restoration. I guess they are trying to be authentic and historically correct, but still such an old buildings seems to loose some of its aura if the bricks are clean, wood is not rotten and metal is not rusty. Nevertheless it is not such a surprise that Rabati is such a culture mix (within the complex there is a Church, a Mosque, a Minaret and a Synagogue). It can seems to be  somehow unsuitable in the context of its Georgian Orthodox surroundings. Let's keep in mind that Georgians is at the cross roads of cultures and still manages to keep its own so proundly and strictly; so I must confess that the allusions on postmodernism are very often on my mind.
After visiting Rabati we traveled to an Important world heritage site. Sapara Monastery is a registred UNESCO site. Second time that day we were part of mass and it was really useful, kind of getting hope to live again after that crazy ride in marshutka up to hill while getting dark. I felt unesthetised by listening to russian pop and  looking out of the window to the deep bottom of mountains.
The idea of such a round-trip wasn't accepted very possitivily when it was announced. To imagine sitting half a day on a tiny marschutka's chairs, marathon running through monuments, and not even beeing able to breath the atmosphere of places ‒ what a school trip! But as the collectiv saving goes of  "if him then me too" is true, finally all GYE volunteers joined the trip. It was exhausting, but after that day I felt really satisfied and that is the best evaluation of all.

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