Finally Back in Tbilisi – An Update

Nata and Jeff during a brief stop to stretch our legs.

Nata and Jeff during a brief stop to stretch our legs.

After a few weeks in Italy and Vienna I’m back in Tbilisi, and haven’t been posting, so I thought I’d post some pictures of the past few weeks.  I’ve mostly been trying to get up to speed with my self-imposed work schedule, so not much really new, though I did go to Kakheti for a nice week.  I’ll have to spread the pictures out over several posts, so here’s the first batch.

Khatuna and I decided to go to Kakheti instead of our original plan to go to Batumi, and since Jeff didn’t have anything to do that day, he drove us out to Sighnaghi with Nata, stopping at various places on the way.  Here we just stopped briefly to stretch out legs a bit and each some figs we’d brought from Tbilisi.

Jeff and his rig

Jeff and his rig

This is at a limestone quarry where Jeff was helping to blast the stone.  Jeff had heard some rumours about oil in the area, apparently seeping out of the ground uncollected.  He asked the on-site guard about it, who tried to explain where it could be found.

The guard drawing a map to the oil...

The guard drawing a map to the oil...

Khatuna translating for Jeff, while the guard sketches a rough map.  Because the roads in the area range from completely paved to barely discernible tracks through the countryside, it was pretty tough to follow his instructions.  We tried to navigate by a few landmarks he had marked—a radio tower, a little lake, etc–but these too were ambiguous: there were in fact two little lakes nearby, and we couldn’t tell whether we should take the paved road around the tower to the sound, though the map seemed to indicate a sort of northerly route, or the dirt track southwards, though the map specified a paved road.  In any case it made the treasure hunting more fun…

The oil reservoir.

The oil reservoir.

After a prolonged drive around the contryside, stopping occasionally to ask directions, (the nearest sizeable town was Dedoplistskaro), we found the rolling plains sprinkled with the nodding donkeys of the oil wells.  We stopped near one with a large reservoir drum partially filled and looked around.  As far as we could tell, all the oil was being collected; some through pumps, others simply collected into the drums as it oozed from the ground.  The inside of the drum was completely black, as one might imagine, though the reflection from the oil’s surface was so clear it was almost like a mirror.  It had interesting little deformations, however, that permitted some interesting pictures.  In this picture Khatuna’s image is almost perfect, while Jeff’s is fantastically distorted: if one cut out his image, made his shirt dark red, and made the background a ghostly black, you’d have a fantastic Francis Bacon.

Self-Portrait...

Self-Portrait...

My images had fewer interesting distortions, but they were still interesting pictures.  I could have spent hours here.  We didn’t stay very long, but I took a number of pictures; perhaps I’ll post some later.

Khatuna & I at dinner, Sighnaghi.

Khatuna & I at dinner, Sighnaghi.

By the time we arrived in Sighnaghi it was evening; we stopped at the hotel to drop off our stuff, and then went to a restaurant overlooking the countryside to have dinner just as the sun was setting behind the old city walls facing us.

Jeff & Nata.

Jeff & Nata.

Jeff and Nata had to leave quite quickly to head back to Tbilisi, but we had a nice dinner with some of the best mtsvadi I’ve had in ages.

Watching the Italy-Georgia match at the local kiosk.  That's me over to the right.

Watching the Italy-Georgia match at the local kiosk. That's me over to the right.

Khatuna and I walked around the town a bit after Jeff and Nata had left, and came across this group of people gathered around a TV at a little kiosk.  We watched for about 15 minutes, and then went back to the hotel.  I didn’t manage to see any of the goals, though some friends who were at Dynamo Stadium watching the match send me occasional updates by SMS.  A shameful display, unfortunately….

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