"Bakhmaro, that’s a place you have to go to. Go there! Remember the name." These were the words of my landlord and neighbour in Tbilisi. He saw my enthusiasm for traveling around Georgia and started remembering all the beautiful places around his country.
Tbilisi in summer is hot! As in close to 40C hot. Bakhmaro is up in the mountains. At over 2100 metres, it’s a settlement where people don’t live during the winter. Everyone comes up to escape the scorching heat. And so did we.
As we got closer to Bakhmaro, the fog enveloped everything around us. I wanted to get out and take some photos of Mia, as I love to shoot virtually everything in the fog. While I was shooting, Mia and Tanya found some berries and started to pick them.
We arrived in Bakhmaro pretty late. But, we found a camping spot before it got too dark. It was close to an intersection, near a village. People came here during with the summer with their animals. The entrance to the village is a popular spot during the evenings. Some people come to chat to each other. Others to get better mobile internet signal.
This man was trying to make a call. I briefly talked to him. I was curious how they brought their animals from below. He said they used trucks. Of course not everyone had a truck, but everyone knew someone with a truck.
My home on wheels. They weren't the warmest of nights in Bakhmaro. The fog made them even colder. The people who come to Bakhmaro say that the fog cleanses your lungs. The air in the region is meant to be very special. It's a mixture from the sea and the mountains. Some people stay for 21 days. The claim is that in 21 days your entire body's blood cells regenerate and you feel good as new.
Everything looks a little more mysterious in the fog, even more so in the fog at dusk. Little wooden houses with lights inside looked like something from a fairy tale.
Morning is a time to take out the cows. A procession of cows belonging to different families ensues. Once the cows are led to a certain point, the people return. This dog becomes the head shepherd, making sure that one one strays off too far.
My camping spot was accidentally – a great success. All I had to do was stick around. All the action came my way. There were at least 6-7 herds of cows, led by a member of the family – from young boys to grandmas.
At the heart of Bakhmaro is a church. Nothing too unusual there. Much of the life revolves around the church area.
Right by the church is a make-shift "kids park". Since many of the visitors in Bakhmaro are families with children, it makes sense. Fog, church, kids park – somewhat unusual visually, hence – interesting. I'll always remember this inflatable slide. This is where my daughter three-year-old daughter Mia finally conquered her fear of climbing up high and going down a slide for big kids.
Also by the church there are all-day horse rides, offered by Muslim villagers from the mountains. Apparently many of the folk who come to herd their animals and all of the horsemen are Muslim. This isn't very common in Georgia, which is so predominantly Christian.
Something is happening and someone is playing in the centre of Bakhmaro all day. The fog kinda strips out all the distractions and makes almost everything photogenic.
This man is a carpenter. He makes chopping-boards and wooden ladles all summer in Bakhmaro. The rest of the year, he lives in a village 50 km down the mountain road. When I told him I was born in Belarus, he got excited. "I’ve been there, the people there received me well! Let me be a host to you now." Said the man. He was very lonely. He lost his wife. It seemed that he had no one now. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay. My daughter and wife were waiting.
Most of the houses in Bakhmaro are wooden, with very few facilities. There's generally a communal water tap and the toilets are... village style wooden boxes. It's all about simplicity and getting out into the nature and fresh mountain air for most visitors.
Shashliks are the thing to do in the evening in Bakhmaro. Once evening comes, everywhere you look a family is making shashliks. With so many fires and the fact that almost everyone smokes, I wonder if that might offset any of the positive effects of the fresh mountain air. Still, shashliks in Georgia are good!
Once night comes, everything dissolves into the fog and darkness.
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