Friday, May 25, 2012

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

About a month ago I went to really neat place called Davit Gareja. It's about 15 ancient monasteries spread across a desert landscape on the border with Azerbaijan. It's still inhabited by monks today. Davit Gareja was on of the 13 Syrian fathers who returned from the Middle East to Georgia to spread Christianity. It was a really interesting place!

looking into Azerbaijan!
so many caves!
We did some border hopping! Hiking in Georgia right on into Azerbaijan! Actually, we made it just in time because as of a week ago after a long going border dispute it all now belongs to Azerbaijan...the Georgians are quite upset about this as it's such an historical piece of their culture.

Good morning Batumi!

A couple weekends ago I finally made it to the beach!! Yay!
There were about 7 of us who took the overnight and one other were stuck in 4th class which meant chairs. To past the time, we all made the most of the night, having our own little party in a space of about 3x6 feet at the very back of the train! It was so fun and ridiculous! A little train party in the tiny caboose. Then we attempted to sleep (not really possible in an upright position) and arrived around 7 the following morning. We found our hotel, showered and then headed out to the beach!

I was loving the beautiful colorful stones there! It's always a little strange to be on a rocky beach!
It was a gorgeous day which definitely called for a little nap on the beach! Later, we strolled around the city enjoying the sun, palm trees, parks and overall lovely day!

Following that splendid afternoon, one of our friends from our orientation group had invited us over to her house for a giant Egyptian dinner. Being from there she had brought back ingredients and spices after returning to visit for Easter break! It was fun to hang out with lots of people and experience new and really delicious food! yum! 

The following week we went to Mestia! My number one place I had wanted to visit in Georgia, a small town in the giant Caucasus mountains! We had a day off of school and decided to make a long weekend of it, as it required quite a journey to get there! I was totally excited!! A couple friends and I took the overnight train once again in 4th class!(I just love the true world traveler moments like that: sleeping on trains, planes, airports, random places, it's just so great). We arrived in another city still a few hours from our destination, where we met up with another group and took a slightly frighenting mini bus ride through the winding cliff sided mountains roads! The views were breathtakingly stunning!

We arrived, found a cute little guest house, fueled up at a little cafe, and began the steep, and I mean steep ascent to the top of the mountain. It was fun to meet some new people on this trip! It was enjoyable to hear other peoples' experiences here and get to know some people outside of my orientation group. As we climbed higher and higher the views were spectacular! It didn't even look real! I couldn't stop singing songs from the Sound of Music in my head for about 3 hours straight!

I was completely filled with happiness. This was one of the greatest moments of my whole time here. My heart belongs to the mountains. When we arrived at our destination we decided to walk just a little further because we knew we would lose daylight if we stayed longer (we were trying to get to some lakes) and in a matter of a few minutes it completely down poured! It was a wonderful moment. It was awesome, the clouds looked incredible and it made everything 10x greener! I couldn't help but feel like I was almost back in New Zealand again with views like these!

The next day we took a hike to a glacier! It was a few hours walk and we arrived at the magnificent sight! We crossed the sketchy and slightly frightening bridge, hiked a little around the area and headed back. That pretty much concluded the trip as we decided to head out earlier than expected. 

Well, here it is! 3 weeks from my departure date, I can't believe it! What a life-changing experience this has been! I'll probably have 1 or 2 more posts up about my last few weeks and also some final thoughts from my time here (if that's possible, I've already been compiling quite a list!) along with lots of pics of my absolutely adorable students! 

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