Cycle Georgia: Mutso to Pshaveli
After paying him handsomely for his unprecedented hospitality, we bid nagwamdis 2 ( goodbye again) to our saviour Mundia and headed back to Shatili, where we had breakfast, ordered via cell phone with a local who had a smattering of English.
The cafe owner called her friend and then simply handed me the phone:
” Hello”, “hello”, ” Hello”, “hello” , “Am I supposed to order with you?”,” Yes”, ” We would like breakfast for 3 people and some coffee with milk” , “Okay” , “And we need a lift up the mountain with our mountain bikes” – this is where it all came a bit unstuck and I lost her somewhat, but clearly enough got through, because as we were enjoying breakfast, a young girl approached the fence.
“Hello, ah, you are looking car for go up mountain” , “Yes”, “Ah when you come back?” ” We not coming back. We need someone to drive us and our bikes to the top then we ride down the other side to Korsha”…so it was that we loaded up with the local bakkie owner and found ourselves back at the top of Bear Cross Pass – the big switchback climb from 2 days before.
Going down was a whole lot easier and before we knew it we were back with Marina at the “art hotel” in Korsha. She was happy to see us, remembered all our names and supplied us with coffee, wine and cherries, for which she refused any payment, before saying nagwamdis 2 and waving us on our merry way towards the lift we’d arranged with Bheka, our contact in Tbilisi.
A Welcome Sight
We met our contact 50km down the road back at our start point and after pressure washing our muddy bikes at a local garage, we loaded up once again and embarked on a bumpy 150km, 3 hr 4×4 drive to the town of Pshaveli. En route our driver arranged a home stay with one of his friends , who also agreed to make us dinner. We arrived around 23h00 and were warmly welcomed and shown to our dark and dusty room, where we promptly unloaded our wet and muddy kit all over the floor.
This was truly the genuine, authentic local experience. The juxtaposition of high speed WIFI and the long drop toilet in the garden was mind-blowing and the hospitality humbling, as our host and his family and friends gathered round, once we were unpacked and showered and joined us for a midnight feast in the garden – thank goodness for Bheka, who acted as interpreter (Steve met him earlier this year at the Cape Epic. When he saw there was a Georgian team entered he made a point of finding him and making contact, which has served us very well).
Toast after toast of homemade wine soon had me properly trollied and I have a vague memory of kissing and hugging everyone at the table before stumbling off to bed at around 01h30 , somehow still mindful of the 07h00 am start and MASSIVE climb that awaited the next morning. I just managed to set the alarm for 06h00 before passing out with the whole world spinning inside my head…