June 21, 2010 - I jumped into a Tbilisi cab to discover that the middle-aged driver was an avid fan of Tupac Shakur. He cranked it up because he knew I was down with that shit. Although his English vocabulary consisted of about four words he managed to convey his disillusionment with the cost of obtaining a visa from the United States. I almost got the feeling he was blaming me and hoping I had the authority to make things happen. About all I can do is rhyme about it…..to keep it real…..yo.
Yesterday I ventured to an isolated group of ancient monasteries (Orthodox Georgian) skirting the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan in a southeastern section of Georgia. The area contains twelve monasteries (there is a 13th on Azerbaijani soil) and is known as David Gareja, after a guy named David that founded the original. I visited the two most accessible and, if the guide book is correct, the two best preserved. The first is known as Lavra and is a functioning religious community with resident monks and all. Lavra is the site of the original caves used for sleeping quarters and religious contemplation. David (one of the thirteen so called Syrian fathers) brought a style of religious asceticism previously established in the Middle East.
On the hillside above and behind Lavra sit the remains of the Udabno Monastery. Along with a stupendous view of the savannah-like plains of this part of Georgia and western Azerbaijan you will find a series of caves that comprised the monastery, to include the refectory and main church. The monastery (i.e. caves) are in shambles but religious frescoes are still visible on the walls and ceilings of some of the caves. The entire monastery complex has seen its share of cycles of destruction and rebuilding as a result of countless invasions (Turks, Persians, Mongols, etc.).
"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Look at your 3 best friends. If they're ok, then it's you." — Rita Mae Brown
|Technically, the border is to the left of the photographed area but you get the point.|
For all travelers and backpackers on budget going to Davit Gareji here's a good news – from April 14th a taxi will no longer be the only option to get there! A direct marshrutka called Gareji Line starts to operate everyday directly from Tbilisi city center! We hope to see you soon in magical Georgia :)ReplyDelete