Right-o. When we last left our intrepid travelers, they/we were in a minivan (driven by our Svan host Jia Japaridze) on a day trip to Ushguli, a remote village in Uper Svaneti. Somewhere around here:
It’s very much a mix of modern and medieval up in these remote villages. This bullock team is bringing in a load of birch trees for firewood.
We pretty much drove straight through and out the other side, where Jia parked and we were given the option of hiking a few K further to the glacier that feeds the river.
We elected not to do the hike out, as it began raining on us. We took shelter in some old church buildings.
And then we sat in the van and ate the lunch that Laura had packed for us — boiled eggs, khachapuri, and I passed around the walnuts and churcheli that we’d acquired. Stephen described this dog previously:
He seemed perfectly friendly and tail-waggy, but we were all — Svans included — happy to stay inside the van while Renata tossed him bits of her lunch out the window. You can see the thick coat and the round bear ears. Harder to spot in this photo are the wickedly spiked collar and the scars on his muzzle from fighting off wolves. The Caucasian mountain dog is a working dog, not a pet, and the guide books warn travelers not to try and get friendly with them.
After lunch, the rain eased a bit and we wandered into “town”. Seriously, this is a lot what I picture a medieval village must have been like, with livestock wandering around, and a bit of diverted stream running through the middle of one of the uneven cobblestone streets, and people just getting on with their regular lives, farming and sorting out their food and heat for the winter, and etc.
As we were wandering through, we were intercepted by a 10 year old boy who took us to the “museum” his family ran. It was basically a barn, with a bunch of amazing stuff inside — stuff that I nearly wept to see not being looked after better. There was one light bulb to illuminate the gloom & I wish we had had more time (and a flashlight) to stare at all of the wonders. The Svan are known for their woodcarving — here are a couple of the pieces I managed to photograph:
I’m not even sure exactly what this was used for — our guide had a little bit of English, but not quite enough. Isn’t it stunning, though ?
On our way out, we met the rest of our party in front of a house featuring this gorgeous panther over the door. Similar art shows up in rock carvings and elsewhere.
And that’s it for Ushguli. Horse trip next, I believe….