Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Upper Omalo and the end of our travels in Tusheti for 2008

When one arrives in Tusheti it's normally Omalo which is the first port of call. Further up the hill you will find tucked away the older and far more beautiful village of Upper Omalo. Look past the decaying buildings and you will see a very elegant and special village which is in the process of being rejuvenated by some outside money. I'll leave you to decide if this is a good thing or not.

Here is Melissa looking down over Upper Omalo from one of the (Keslo Foundation) towers. Keslo is a developer from Canada who is responsible for much of the recent restoration.

Melissa with Tusheti stretching out behind her. Fond memories and we will return.

If you are a vernacular architecture geek like me ,a woven wall like this example in Upper Omalo is a classic and needs to be cherished. Somehow I don't see this wall taking a priority like it should do.

Our guest house had recently open, in fact I think we were the first guests. The plumbing was predictably at the early stages of development but the rest was excellent. If you chose to stay take a bed role. As with many of the new guest houses the beds can be quite hard although clean and very comfortable.

Some of the lads keep some fine saddles with some great carpet work.

Melissa's horse was sadly lacking in good tack or fine carpet work for that matter . It's a Tusheti problem and you should not worry if you choose to travel by horse but just put your foot down to get things fixed. Carpets are not an optional extra.
The horse was excellent ,followed by her beautiful foal for two weeks. In fact she was a champion in her day and one of the best in Tusheti .

My horse looks as if he was saddled up by a monk from the middle ages. Don't come to the wrong conclusions here . After 6 hours in this saddle I felt as fresh as a daisy and my horse was magnificent and could turn on a sixpence. All our horse's were excellent, the tack was just a touch rudimentary but this is something one needs to appreciate in Tusheti and get used to .

When we arrived in Upper Omalo; Goggi ,Irma and the girls took off to return our horses to Shenako. The idea was they would be back for supper at around 8.00. At around 10.00 ,when it was pitch black, our wild adventurers returned squealing with delight. Melissa was besides herself with rage. If I recall I just held the peace until we had the full story. In short, on arrival in Shenako there was a wonderful party. The girls got drunk and a had quite rightly had a great time.The problem was how to get home while drunk and without a means to get home. The answer was they stole a horse and galloped home bareback with Irma and Goggi in the dead of night for about 10 miles. I presume the other horse was Goggi's. All I could do was congratulate the girls on a safe return and put it down to experience. Hell I never did anything nearly as exciting at 15 or 17 years of age. The next day Iona had a very sore bottom and Irma had one hell of a hangover. The horse above is the one in question. He had been Iona's horse for two weeks so they were good friends but I guess he still wanted to be home by the racket he made all night.

Butter wouldn't melt in their mouth as my mother would say. Elene on the right has recently got married to a Tushetian lad and we wish them the very best for the future. He is a very lucky man indeed.

The whole village appeared to be out to say goodbye but I fear it was for India and Iona and not for Melissa and myself but we did experience the reflected glory the girls were basking in after the previous nights adventures.

This lad was keen to see us off in style and raced around our truck like a demon on his magnificent horse. It beats a hoody in London showing off on his scooter.

In my next entry I shall be talking about how we left Tbilisi and not how we left Tusheti. If by now this blog has inspired you to visit Tusheti. My advice is just go .
Tusheti will inevitably start to change and soon it will never be the same. Is there a risk in traveling to Tusheti ? Well I've just come back from China where I caught legionnaires disease. I could have died, not because of China but stuff just happens. My advice is make your own luck and just go. Georgia is one hell of a country and unlike any other I've been to.

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