Fact: Everything is funnier with a mild buzz.
This was truer than ever the day I found myself hitchiking my way down from Tbilisi to the David Gareja Monastery, in the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The first stop had been in Rustavi, a small city south of Tbilisi with not much to offer but semi-abandoned buildings and that soviety feeling I had started to get used to.
Massive housing complexes all over the place and a constant voice in the back of my head. “You are not unique! You are not unique!”
As we walked to our hitchhiking point outside of the town, we walked across what seemed to be a low-security prison, the guards’ eyes completely focused on these two foreigners waving cars down.
Right in front of the prison, I spotted this old man having problems carrying food sacks and offered to help him once we approached him.
We brought the huge bag into a small storage inside his little farm and were getting ready to continue our little adventure when his wife came out and they started talking.
When in Georgia, drink like a georgian
I had been told that the true flavor of the Georgian wine resided at the bottom of the dusty bottles of home-made white wine and chacha, so when the man offered my buddy Sam and I to come inside his house—plus the magic words, “vino? vino?”—I couldn’t help but smile and let my self be guided through his small property.
Sitting on a small table, we were served huge amounts of cheese, bread and a glass of “white” wine.
Barely being able to communicate through hand signs, we started sipping shyly on the glass to the distaste of our host, who started frowning at us, silently urging us to drink the whole damn thing, dammit!
So we did!
We chugged the glass and were instantly rewarded with another glass of the strongest wine ever.
And we chugged. And we chugged again.
With the wine starting to make its effects, we had to stop our host. Ate one last piece of fresh cheese and bread, before thanking them and marching away with a funny stride.
Finally getting to David Gareji
Outside, one of the guards waved at us (or was it my imagination?). Not even midday and we laughed almost the whole way until a bus driver offered to take us for free.
Then we walked a little more, until another Marshutka driver offered to take us all the way to Jandari.
From there, and since we were still on the bad side of the low season, we had no other option but to pay for a small taxi who drove us through the longest unpaved road I’ve seen in my life.
We got there on time before the sunset and got to experience the whole monastery almost for ourselves.
With just a couple of hours before the Sun went down, we rushed around the carved-rock buildings, came across a group of locals singing beautiful Georgian songs and was lulled by them for a while, then climbed to the top of the hill that divides Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Truth be told, this is not one of my favorite spots in the country—although it offers some pretty impressive views—but still, the whole odyssey to get here is what gives it such a great value for me.
A perfect example of the journey being more important than the destination.