The road from Ushguli to Mestia was narrow, winding and bumpy
though parts were being rebuilt. On the way we stopped at
the Lovers Tower, one of the few towers that we could climb to the
The next morning we drove a few miles back towards Ushguli then
hiked along the ridge, through old villages.
After the hike we were ready for a relaxed afternoon. At the cafe we
asked about my young guide from twenty years ago and were told that
he and his mother were out of town but may return the next day.
We went to see a movie about a woman in Ushguli forced to marry
against her will. It was a fascinating tear jerker, showing
how the people of Ushguli are adapting to modern times. The
movie blurb says: "1992. Dina lives in a remote village high in the
Georgian mountains where century old traditions rule day to day
life. Her grandfather has arranged for her to marry, but when
handsome Gegi returns from war, she falls in love with him and they
elope, trampling on traditional Svaneti culture. Her refusal to
abide by Tradition will cost her more than she could imagine."
We all enjoyed seeing scenes from the village we had just
left. (Dede is Georgian for "Mother".)
We started the next morning by going up a chairlift to a mountain
After getting a ride to the top of this mountain we hiked up to the
Chaladi Glacier. First we drove up a road that was all torn up
as they had built a small dam with a long pipe to bring water
downstream for hydro electric power.
Then we crossed a suspension footbridge -- not my favorite way to
cross the river!
Then we headed up, first through the woods then following the river
whose source was the melting glacier.
Near the glacier the ground was littered with loose boulders the
glacier had left behind, making walking difficult.At he end of the
glacier was a pool of water fed with melting snow and a steady
stream of rocks falling.
We had a picnic lunch just below the glacier then hiked back to
Mestia where we visited the Museum of History and Ethnography.
After dinner we returned to the Laila Cafe in search of Giorgi, my
guide from twenty years earlier. He was not back from his
travels but we found his mother and sister. The mother had run
the guest house where I stayed which was located where the cafe is
now. She did not speak English but welcomed us with
complimentary wine and called Giorgi on his cell phone. We
reminesced and he invited me to return and stay with him in both
Tbilisi and Mestia. I hope to take him up on that offer.
Meanwhile we enjoyed our compliemntary wine, the Georgian folk music
and energetic folk dancing.
The next morning we left early for the long drive to Batumi on the
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