Terry Cowan, Texas, USA
I have also come to an important truth about travel. For many, traveling seems little more than a game, in which one checks-off as many destinations as possible. In a week at a Tbilisi hostel, my son was thrown together with a number of rootless (mostly European) travelers. From his perspective, their journeys appeared unfocused, a mere tagging of obscure destinations--two to three days in Tbilisi, so it must be time to move on to Uzbekistan, etc.
I suggest, however, that travel reveals the places that stir our souls--or as a Georgian would say, that sits on your heart. Once found, we should return there again and again, as often as possible. I fully appreciate the fact that discovering your touchstone on the other side of the world is a decidedly modern luxury (and perhaps a temporary one at that.) I do have other such locales a bit closer to home. But as health and finances permit, I will be returning to Georgia whenever possible.
I have just spent eleven days in Georgia, still a bit overwhelmed by it all. I travelled with John Graham's annual "Monastery Tour," as I did in 2007. The group topped out at sixteen--six from New York City, six from New Jersey, a North Carolinian, one from Michigan, one from Illinois, and an outlier from Texas (me.) We formed a diverse but congenial group, ranging in age from four years old to the mid-70s, consisting of academics, successful entrepreneurs, small business-people, craftsmen and artisans--as well as two of the best-behaved children I have ever encountered. Eight of us were Orthodox, the others Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and the non-croyant.The group proved to be an intrepid lot, up for anything and everything, with nary a complaint to be heard.
John is an outstanding guide, completely at home in his Georgian skin as he is his American, and wisely choosing Shergil Pirtskhelani and Soso Kopaleishvili to assist him on the tour. All three are accomplished vocalists, musicians and musicologists, key players in the renaissance of traditional Georgian folk singing and chant.
Georgia's history is often tragic and desperate, sometimes grand and glorious, and occasionally rambunctious and fractious. Georgians themselves are perhaps the most generous people on earth. The thing that Georgia and Georgians are not, however, is dull. I find them endlessly fascinating. Over the following days and weeks I hope to submit a number of topical posts, in no particular order of importance. I hope you enjoy these ruminations on Georgia.
Read more on the blog: http://notesfromacommonplacebook.blogspot.com/