Top: World's first 360-degree Panorama of Ushguli, Svaneti, Georgia, Feb 24/2009, from 12 separate photos...

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Happy New Year from the top of Europe!!! What a privilege to celebrate it here with close friends. We've finished watching the finale of Geostar, the local version of American Idol, on TV - Ani Kekua, you deserved it and I saw you win from miles away, weeks ago.

The Georgian New Year tradition calls for a feast at midnight, with much visiting going on all through the night and the whole of the following week. If there was ever an excess of food by extravagant Georgian standards, it's on this occasion, and all of it marvellous. Centrepiece is a roast piglet; I'm contributing mulled spiced white wine, thanks to my large store of exotic whole spices. I have taken a whole series of cellphone photos of the table being laid, starting with an empty tablecloth and ending with hardly any free space on the entire surface. And that's BEFORE the piglet comes out of the oven...

Greetings to the first viewers from 4 new countries, all from recent weeks in December '07: Thailand, Indonesia, Jamaica and Egypt! - all suitably exotic to me.

Some recent Ushguli photos, bottom to top:

Washing and watchtower, from our house.
L to R: Me, the gamgebeli (governor) of the Mestia region of Svaneti, Nino Japaridze; the lady in charge of our province's education, Sveta Niguriani; and the gamgebeli of Ushguli village, Aster Chelidze. After a Dec. 21 pre-presidential election political meeting in the village school where I teach English (which is behind us).

One of a series of attempts at odd cellphone self-portraits in pursuit of an author photo for my book on Svaneti, for the writing of which I'm taking advantage of this reasonably quiet winter season in Ushguli.

Sunset gilding Shkhara. I discovered this on the way to the outhouse; it was occupied and, turning, I was stunned by the colours. Run in to get my camera, then off to find a location for some photos, noting the time so I could do it again from a different location. It was magnificent, and I was just in time. That was yesterday evening, and I went out tonight, despite the -20 C or so temperatures, for an hour or so. Glorious.
I live one house to the left of this view.