Bodbe Convent, Nino’s Spring, & Mtsvadi in the Forest

Buying pork in the bazari.

Buying pork in the bazari.

I think it was on our third day that we finally got out to Bodbe, a convent complex with the nearby St. Nino’s Spring.  We got some pork for our lunch, planning to check out the convent and then make lunch somewhere in the forest.

Khatuna had to negotiate for a while with the butcher, since he was trying to sell us mostly bone, fat, and gristle.  Eventually we got about a kilo of nice-looking mtsvadi pork.

Lonely Planet describes the 2.5 kilometer walk from Sighnaghi to Bodbe  as an “enjoyable walk on country roads”, so we set out in the morning intending to visit the spring, have lunch, and then see the convent.  It was a lovely day, but unfortunately the country roads were full of enormous trucks carrying huge mounds of earth, belching black exhaust all over the place.  Eventually we passed a section of road that had been decimated by a landslide, well over half the asphalted street having collapsed down the hillside leaving a narrow strip of road surface on which cars could still travel.  Farther down the hill crews were removing the earth, loading it onto the trucks that would take it away.

At a certain point, there were two signs; one, indicating the convent, pointed to the right, the other, indicating Nino’s Spring, pointed to the left, so we started to march down the hill towards the latter.  Again unfortunately, the road we took was in terrible condition, sandy and stony, rendered slippery and irregular by the channels carved into it by the rain; it was also much longer than the path to the spring from the convent.  We learned later that the route we took—four kilometers long, we were told—was mainly for cars, while the much short path is just 800 meters or so.  After walking down the hill for about an hour, a minibus lurched down the road and Khatuna asked the driver whether it was still much farther.  They promptly opened the doors and invited us along.

Nino's Spring

Nino's Spring

This little chapel is built over a spring that ostensibly burst forth at a spot where St. Nino prayed. For a small fee one can go inside and submerse oneself in the water, wearing a shroud-like costume provided at the entrance.  Off to one side there’s a spout where the water can be collected in bottles.

Inside the church at the convent.

Inside the church at the convent.

The convent, a pleasant walk through the forest 800 meters up the hill from the spring, is dedicated to St. Nino, who is buried here.  I was only able to snap this one picture of the church before a nun entered the church to make sure we didn’t do anything untoward or…take pictures.  In a little side chapel is Nino’s tomb, a decorated marble slab at which the Orthodox kneel, cross themselves, and kiss the side of the tomb.

The convent.

The convent.

The actual convent is also quite beautiful, and also obviously recently renovated, though it’s off-limits to visitors, so we could only snatch glimpses of it from above the wall that separated it from the church grounds.

Spinning....spinning...

Spinning....spinning...

There was something fascinating and at the same time sinister about the women locked away from the world, dressed in black; particularly here, three nuns (though one is hidden behind the tree) spinning some kind of yarn, like the three Fates.

The beginning of the descent from the convent through the forest towards Nino's Spring.

The beginning of the descent from the convent through the forest towards Nino's Spring.

After checking it out we walked into the forest between the church and the spring, found a pleasant little clearing in the trees, and made our fire.

Lunch!

Lunch!

Preparing the spits.

Preparing the spits.

Mtsvadi...

Mtsvadi...

The fire worked perfectly!

Our hostess had provided us with the spits.

Khatuna testing the mtsvadi.

Khatuna testing the mtsvadi.

Turned out very well!

Turned out very well!

It was a lot of fun, and turned out remarkably well for our first time.  I suppose it’s not rocket science, but everything went well.  Looking back I’m somewhat surprised at our fearlessness in preparing a fire in the middle of a rather dense forest where the floor was covered in dry leaves and dead branches, but we managed to contain the fire without any problems.  Our hostess at the guesthouse had given us a small coke bottle filled with her family’s red wine, so we drank that with our delicious pork and lazed about in the cool forest air for a while afterwards.  A nice afternoon.

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3 Responses

  1. Just wondering if you have ever heard of St. Ninos walk in Gerogia??? I like your website alot

  2. Thanks! No, I haven’t heard of St. Nino’s walk…unless you mean that she walked to, and around, Georgia. There is, of course, St. Nino’s Spring, there near Sighnaghi, but I don’t know about her walk. Do you know where it is?

  3. It is a pilgrimage that many Georgian Young people do from May-mid July. You walk from village to village, staying with a host family every night. The purpose is to trace the very route St. Nino walked, when she first came to enlighten the land of sakartvelo. The locals call it tsmindao nino gzaze.

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