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Friday, 28 September 2007

Khevsureti, October 2000

The old man of recent posts; and more of the river, including Nodar to give scale in the top shot.
K&P, while you're nuptualising tomorrow, I'll be at the wedding of a longtime acquaintance in Kakheti. But I'll be with you in spirit!

Svaneti Walk, June 2007 (top to bottom)

After Ipari (the first time the horse ran away, also unavaliable on film because THIS reality show doesn't have anyone other than its 2 stars filming it), finishing in Ushguli.

Video 1 - a lone tower on a river, the Maiden Tower of Svaneti, in which legend has it that a girl's father imprisoned her because he didn't like her suitor, and in which she aparently died.

Video 2 - entering the part of the road I call the "Mordor Section" for its gloom, slate rock and general closed-in feeling. After K'ala, not far from Ushguli.

Video 3 - settling in at the Ratianis' guesthouse, Ushguli.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Khevsureti, October 2000

K&P, more for your viewing pleasure. Today - the Aragvi River.

Svan Walk, June 2007 (top to bottom)

Mulakhi to Ipari Pass.

Video 1 (top) - sorry for the corny dialogue, it was all I could come up with on the spur of the moment. This was the first time we had to cross a stream barefoot on the walk.

Video 2 - the little box appearing 1/2 way through the clip is a shrine to someone who died on the road, a sadly common thing here.

Video 3 - near Ipari, a carved wooden cross marks the pass. There's a beautiful little spring-fed lake near here. This is also the location of our only tent camp-out during the walk, and of Crazy Horse Day the next morning, unfortunately all missed on film because the cameraman was too busy trying to re-bridle the Nightmare.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Khevsureti, October 2000

Some of the people we met on that trip. The man at bottom is the same one who was in yesterday's top shot. The lady in the middle is holding a new cheese. The girl at top had only not to move while I squeezed off three shots of her perfect surroundings and pose.

Svaneti Walk, June 2007: Lenjeri through Mestia (top to bottom)

Approaching Lenjeri, then departing Mestia after 2 days' break there. Pressing on towards Ushguli.

Khevsureti, October 2000

The house at top was built by the grandfather of the 76-year-old man standing outside it. He had lived there all his life.

Walking in Svaneti, June 2007 (top to bottom)

The walk begins. Packing the horse at Nodar's house in Ladreri and setting off. 27 km to Mestia on our first - and longest, distance-wise - day of the 5 on foot. There was some 2 hours' worth of rain during the 7 hours we took, but we and our luggage were ready for it, and we just carried on in rain jackets.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Khevsureti, October 2000

More for you, K&P. Don't worry, I know you're getting ready for the big day on Saturday and probably don't have time to look at these right now. But eventually you will.

Svan Surfing, June 2007 (top to bottom)

"So what did you do this summer, Tony?"
"I tried my hand at Svan surfing. You know, in Svaneti. With Jeff B, who was walking through the province with me in June."
"Svaneti?! That's high in the Caucasus Mountains of the Republic of Georgia!!! The only water there is... like, the raging Inguri River, and a few mountain lakes! There's no surf to be had anywhere in Svaneti! What ARE you talking about?"
"Just watch the videos, willya?"

"Ohhhh... I think you should've called it Svan waterskiing, myself."
"Yeah, whatever."

Monday, 24 September 2007

Khevsureti, Georgia, October 2000

Move over for a while, Svaneti.

In the summer of 2000 I was given the opportunity to run a large medical aid programme for refugees in Georgia. The main doctor in our work turned out to be a Svan who became my best friend in the country, Nodar. He is the one who opened his province - Svaneti - to me, his friends and family being widely distributed there.

Before we travelled to Svaneti, though, there was another place I wanted as much to try to reach in Georgia: Shatili, at the top of Khevsureti, another ancient architectural jewel, as fascinating to me as Ushguli was.

These photos - and more to follow - are a record of the first of three attempts at Shatili. October 2000 gave us stunning fall scenery, but due to the Chechen war bordering Khevsureti, we were turned back by Georgian police fearing for my safety a few tens of kilometres from Georgia's fabled other village of towers.

I have two friends in the UK who are looking at getting involved in village life in Khevsureti - she has bought a house there, and in a few days they'll be married in England. K&P, these are in honour of you, with love and best wishes and God's blessing for your life together.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Giorgoba, Ladreri, Svaneti, May 2007

One of my first videos from the new cellphone. I had bought it the day before going up to Ladreri for Giorgoba (St George's Day) to celebrate it with my Svan friends. This shows the tiny, ancient St Barbara's Church (possibly 6th century), open to the sky, and in the distance the villagers at their feast in the forest.

Svaneti, July 2007

Bottom three: final looks at Ushguli from July.

Middle two: Ushba towering over part of Mulakhi village, on the way home.

Top: Tower, Lenjeri. See? You CAN have the sun in your photos, as this and earlier shots demonstrate, if you're careful. An example of breaking the rules and getting away with it. You'll often have lens flare objects cutting across the frame, and may need to take several shots at different exposures (known as bracketing) to get one which is right, but that's usually all part of the image process.