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Nerves

GEORGIA | Saturday, 25 July 2009 | Views [1203]

April 20: From buzzkill Poti to port-side Batumi

With tearful goodbyes from Tako and her mother and grandparents, I set off from Kutaisi for Poti. There’s admittedly not much going on in Poti, but I had read about the nearby Kolkheti National Park and jumped at the chance to check out the wetlands and birds that inevitably flock to the area. When I arrived in Poti, I was first dropped off at "the park" by a well-intentioned elderly gent who insisted that a small Soviet-era city park was indeed the 300-acre national park. I then spent ages searching for and then taking a local bus that went in the right direction, only to arrive at the national park to find it closed for Easter Monday. Before leaving Kutaisi, Tako and I had asked around to confirm that the park would be open on the Easter Monday holiday, but I should have known that the marshutka driver would of course answer in the affirmative; he was a businessman, after all. (I’ve learned to never trust drivers, and ESPCIALLY ones with moustaches.)

I had little choice but to keep on traveling west and eventually made it to the home of another Ministry contact in the port city of Batumi. During the summer, sub-tropical Batumi is a vacationing hotspot for sun-worshipping Russians, Eastern Europeans, and Tbilisians. I was a bit early for the famed warm weather, but was still serenaded by the oversized musical fountains on the boulevard, complete with synchronized lighting and ‘dance routines’ set to everything from classical to country. I was also treated to visits to an ancient Roman fortress, a gothic cathedral, a peculiar monument to St. Andrew underneath a small waterfall, and a brief spell on the rocky beach on the Black Sea.


April 21: Well, Miss Georgia, you've been good to me

I spent the morning perusing my Lonely Planet pdfs and the Thorn Tree forum for advice on the border crossing into eastern Turkey. I admittedly allowed myself to get a bit nervous about leaving the comforts of Georgia behind for unknown territory. Turkey will be the first country on my trip without pre-arranged contacts and it will also be the first that is not a former Soviet republic (i.e. many of the things I’ve gotten used to will no longer be applicable). I attempted to reassure myself by the fact that western Turkey is incredibly tourist-friendly (at least in comparison to the ‘Stans) and that despite the east being accompanied by travel warnings, especially for women, I would surely be met with the same infectious hospitality and openness as in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Being on my toes is fine (and necessary), but if fear starts creeping in, I may revert to ‘othering’ those around me and be constantly looking over my shoulder - which I hate. So at the very least, I reminded myself that as a solo traveler, I have to maintain a particular mental sharpness and keep any nerves and uncertainties well in check, both for my own personal well-being (mental and otherwise) and for the continued enjoyment of what the road has to offer me.

 

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