Saturday, 21 February 2009
View up towards Chvibiani and Zhibiani, the top 2 hamlets of the vllage, with Mts Shkhara at left and Lamaria at right
Lichen on rocks
Ever wonder what a skinned fox looks like? Wonder no more. I assure you, this little harrier of livestock died quickly, not in a trap. Sorry, but it's all a part of life up here - the good, the bad & the ugly
Friday, 20 February 2009
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Three views of watchtowers today.
From an old abandoned house with 1930s carved woodwork on the balcony
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Three images of snow today.
What happens when a child falls carefully forwards and then gets up without disturbing things too much
A Swiss Roll cake made by snow obeying nature's laws, no human intervention - it's about a foot (30cm) thick
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
(Will my 666th post, due tomorrow, also see the blog's 10 thousandth visitor? Nice present for numerologists and the otherwise gullible.)
Random selection of photos from a week or so ago.
Why landscape photographers (should) love winter: long low shadows all day long (at least at these latitudes) nicely defining the contours. of the land. Of course, this may be less important when one's land is as vertical as Svaneti is: sunlight falling on it at any angle may show off its shapes well. This is the top part of Ushguli, called Zhibiani, where my host family and I live, at far left
Part of the Enguri Rivershowng some of the wild things winter's freezes and thaws have done to it
My reflection and part of the village's in Dato's new Nissan
Monday, 16 February 2009
Woke up to a near-blizzard today, and sure enough, the electricity failed soon after that. Never mind, I thought - I have enough laptop and cellphone battery time to get a post ready for the blog anyway. But when it came time to connect to the internet, this vital link failed - couldn't get a connection straight onto the cellphone either, so something was up with the Magti (ISP) link. Frustration, depression, as I've pledged to post every day from Ushguli if at all possible. I called a friend in Tbilisi & asked him to post a note to my blog this evening from me, noting the problem; but now, at mid-afternoon, the sun has come out and our heroes, the electricity repair guys in Mulakhi village, have done their thing. I think that what I must do is send several posts with far-future dates as emergency backups; then, when power or something else fails, I can just ask someone to go to one of those posts & change the date on it to the date of the problem, forcing it to be posted immediately...
On to yesterday's pictures! Limpari is a Svan festival of fire and the upcoming harvest. I was at it here last year as well, and this time a number of things went wrong. The fire refused to start, even when a good-sized bottle of diesel was added to it - not enough small stuff in there to catch and light the bigger stuff, if you ask me. Then, once it did get going nicely, after about 5 minutes the whole tipi fell over! Next, a big fat candle, made of a smaller candle from each family twisted together, refused to stick properly to the watchtower wall, cfalling off while they were in the middle of prayers on one knee! And then the table set up against the tower wall, laden with dishes of food and drink offerings, fell down when one of its log supports broke; so the whole plank had to be rested on the snow at the tower's base instead. There was at least one photograph which I missed as a result, of the frying pan full of coals from the bonfire on the table with the tower going on up the sky behind it. But never mind, I think I got a few pictures to show what the event was about. The last of these shows a supra, or Georgian feast, to which I was invited afterwards; table and benches put right onto the snow. There wasn't much on hand - until Lado showed up with a bowl of mountain sheep shish kebabs, which cheered the mood considerably. I stayed for several hours, but remained dry as I have no interest in getting drunk, which is all to easy for a not-too-large European with a low alcohol tolerance in comparison with Georgians or Svans. "all in all, a good time was had by all..." At least the weather was nice and sunny.
Sunday, 15 February 2009
A busy weekend - yesterday was St Barbara's Day, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Barbara for who she was. (Today is Limpari, a festival of fire & the upcoming harvest; more pictures from it tomorrow.) We entered the lowest of Ushguli's 7 churches at midday; women had brought meat, and bread and wine or moonshine for the men to bless & pray for a good year for each family represented. That's what's happening in the top photo. Next, one of my young students kissing the door on the way in; moonshine & wine in their traditional vessels as the men get down to drinking; and a speech and toast are made.