Monday, 15 September 2008

Over the pass

Tusheti is a mountainous region where the Tush live and work between May and October, herding their cattle and sheep over the pass to summer pastures in the Caucuses. This region has a magical climate not experiences by Georgians in the low lands and is often regarded as wild country by many Georgians, only fit for mountain people. Frankly I think the Tush are quite happy perpetuate this reputation. It keeps the lowland riff raff out, leaving Gods own country to some very special people.

The road up to the pass, if you can call it that, is a white knuckle drive of the first order with waterfalls cascading onto the road creating what the Tush refer to as ‘their own natural car wash’. Well it gets the car clean. The road to Tusheti was built in the 1970’s and suffers from constant erosion by the elements.

On the way up to the pass you notice by the roadside a sign pointing out a local Spa. Although basic, this Spa is known by Tushetiens as a giver of life with the potential for revitalising the body and sorting out all manner of ailments. We didn’t go there but I am told it is worth a visit.

Once over the magnificent Abano pass (the wild flowers are amazing and so is the cloud cover at times) the journey got more exciting, due to the previous winter. In the summer of 2007 the road cut through the previous winter’s snow approx 4 meters deep, and that was in July. In the summer of 2008 there was a period in late July when the rain fall made part of the road impassable for a while but this is not uncommon. 

The Russians had previously provided electricity but the cables were cut by the Georgians after separation from Russia. The price of copper must have been more valuable than the need for electricity. 

The snow and ice from the previous winter illustrated how hard the conditions had been and it’s hard to imagine how difficult the journey was during May when the stock made their three day trip to Tusheti. 


Nini Bitsadze said...

Dear Chris and family,
This is an absolutely amazing account, so real and full of great humor! The images are stunning!!! Thank you for sharing! what an adventure! Your experience and reflections make me proud to be Georgian! though I yet have to visit Tusheti! :)

Chris said...

Thanks Nini, please spread the word.
I've met very few Georgian's who have visited Tusheti. When we told people in Tbilisi about our travels they presumed the Tush were all wild mountain people still living in traditional dress. How wrong they could be and what a magnificent world to discover, well if they can stomach the journey getting there.