Some of these were destinations in and of themselves, others were just places that grabbed my attention while driving around the Georgian countryside.
As a kid, I lived in Poland for a couple years in the 80’s. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I got the rare privilege(?) of experiencing the Kafkaesque wonders of communism first hand. I recall the amount of propaganda in the form of statues, posters, and other media that played up the purported deep bonds of friendship and socialist solidarity between my country and the Soviet Union. Today, I have a decidedly mixed opinion of Marxist ideology; though I acknowledge the justice that the system strove for, I will forever remember that unique brand of ham-fisted Orwellian bullshittery that it generated. If you had to remind people constantly of how much we loved our friends to the east, it only served to foster an ever-deepening cynicism and distrust that ultimately led to the system’s downfall.
Georgia’s history is somewhat more shaded. It’s Russian subjugation dates to the turn of the 19th century, when threats from their Persian neighbors led to an alliance with imperial Russia, which quickly eroded the country’s independence. Over the next couple centuries, the nations intermingled extensively. Suffice to say that none other than Joseph Stalin (born Jughashvili) rose to the peak of Soviet power. Thus the Russo-Georgian Friendship Monument was erected in 1983 along the mountain road that connects the two republics. The the relationship between Russia and Georgia was somewhat more amicable than that of Russia and Poland. I feel that “friendship” is a term more readily embraced by the senior partner, with the local’s view on the relationship being a bit more cynical.
Dramatic vistas? I got you, fam.
Georgians are pious by Western standards. I regularly saw people praying in public, and often not at a shrine or some such sacred place, but just directed outward, as if they were praying to the country itself. The man n the picture below stood in the very spot I wanted to shoot from; I waited so long for him to finish his prayer that I began photographing him. I’m glad I did, because this shot was better than any I got from his spot when he finally did leave.
Living as I do in the vast and flat American Midwest, I’m a sucker for any mountains and hillscapes.
I glimpsed this thing from the road. The driver had no idea what it was about. No matter.
Georgia is a major wine producer. Here’s a vineyard at the foot of the Caucasus mountains. Sadly, very few of this country’s wines are available stateside.