Georgia 1 – 6/2014
Georgia!! New country. New language. New alphabet. New customs. Crossing the border from Turkey was a breeze, no visas required, but we had been warned that Georgian drivers made those in Istanbul seem tame. It is really hard to describe them. Crazy, idiotic, suicidal and moronic are terms that fall short. In addition, a large percentage of the vehicles (30-40%) are high-powered luxury BMWs, Range Rovers, Mercedes, Audis and Peugeots that seem to be practicing for the Daytona 500. Many are right-hand drive, making us wonder if they were stolen in Japan or Great Britain and sold on the black market. If a luxury car goes missing in Switzerland, the running joke is you’ll find it in Georgia.
To complicate matters, whether drivers are in beat-up Lada Nivas, delivery vans, BMWs or semi 18-wheelers, most drivers seem to be suffering from acute “rectalclaxonitis”. “Rectal” coming from that part of their body where their brains are located and “Claxon” from the Mexican word for horn. Any time there is a slight tightening of the anal sphincter, the horn sounds.
The roads vary from sorta OK to narrow two-lane pocked with potholes and a “suicide lane” in the middle. To be realistic, the painted lines are just for decoration and have no relation to direction of traffic. There is always a “passing lane” in the middle regardless of road width or oncoming traffic. Approaching vehicles flash their lights to tell you that yes, they see you, and yes, they know there is no room to pass, and yes, they are going to pass anyway.
All this is made more exciting by the fact that the right-hand drive vehicles must pull out into oncoming traffic to see if there is any oncoming traffic. We kept a safe distance and a constant watch for the next idiot coming up behind us.
We were adjusting, and getting used to reading paper maps again. Despite having two of the most sophisticated GPS units available, the Navigattor and the Garmin neither of them had detailed information on Georgia. Road signs were interesting and we were relieved that most of them were also written in our alphabet.
After a few heart-thump incidences on our second day in Georgia, we came around a bend and Monika spotted a meadow by a river below which turned out to be a pleasant camp. We had no sooner unpacked our chairs and fired up the BBQ that a man named Thoma living above in the village waded across the stream with wine, cheese and bread. Maybe this was the hospitality Georgians are known for?