Trippin' through Georgia
Ever hitchhiked before? I didn't, but why not trying it?So this is how me and two friends experienced hitchhiking in Georgia-for the first and defintively not the last time.
"It's one wicked road, you're gonna make it right! You found your way to go, you gonna take that ride!
The miles are way too long! The stars are way too bright! You're gonna wait too long to run away tonight."
-'Put a Light On', Generationals
"Be careful! It's a Taxi!!!" Moritz shouted. I put the sign in my hands down as fast as I could, but the Taxi already had stopped and I tried to ignore the driver with all power. He looked out of his window, observing us like a cat watches at the mouse she decided to catch. It was not the first Taxi which wanted to take us hitchhikers to Gori, a city 120 kilometers away from our current hometown Rustavi. We were already aware of the Taxi-Problem, as we had like 2 or 3 times when we sat in the car, realizing that it was a Taxi-just to be thrown out after telling that we go by 'autostopi' and standing on the street again after one minute. Actually, it was my first hitchhike experience- as everyone told me that it was a very very easy to hitchhike in Georgia. But what they all forgot to tell me was that nearly none of the drivers spoke English and as I was travelling with two friends of Germany (Moritz&Ida) the whole communication was based on the few phrases I learned in Georgian Lessons.
So-there we stood-somewhere in Tbilisi, in a cold November evening, with nothing than some mandarines and water in our backpacks, the phrase 'Ar minda taqsi, puli ar maqvs' (I don't want a Taxi, I don't have money) in my head, a very but very optimistic attitude towards this trip and a sign where was written Dighomi in Georgian letters in my freezing hands-which some people from the store next by street gave us, because it turned out that we were totally wrong where we were. So we first had to go to another part of Tbilisi, hoping that from there (whereever it was) someone could finally take us to Gori. We divided the tasks: me, as the "Qartuli-Expert" had the role of the signholder and communicator, Moritz-the tallest of us-observed the street and warned me of the Taxis which were passing by merciless, always looking for stupid&lost tourists like us to take with them and afterwards their money.... and Ida? Ida just motivated us, a task one shouldn't underestimate-due to the difficult conditions on which we were travelling, as it was very cold and the night was already falling down on the caucasian city..!
After 20 minutes, in which my hope of getting to Gori this night was slowly dying with each car passing by, a tiny, tiny car stopped by us (actually it was so small that it reminded me more of my breakfast-bowl than of a car). The driver opened the door, taking away the stuff which was laying in the place where in other cars there uses to be a passenger seat. So we had to squeeze on the backseat, together with the backpacks and this is how we were taken through the typical vespertine Tbilisi-Traffic-Jam.
The breakfast-bowl-car stopped somewhere on the outskirt of Tbilisi and as I watched it disappearing in between the hundred and hundred of lights of other cars I realized that I had no idea how to get back from this point, so there was no other option left than escaping ahead."Do you know if it already happened that hitchhikers freezed to death because no one took them?" I asked, shaking and chattering of teeth. I know, questions like this may not be helpful in a crisis situation, but I couldn't help to make space for my fear and before Ida or Moritz could answer, the breakfast-bowl-car was standing again beside us. Ida had forgotten her hat and he made all the way back in the Traffic-Jam just to bring it back to her! I couldn't believe it, I wouldn't have done this if I was on his place. So with the back-gained hat the possibility of Ida to freeze at least shrinked a bit..! Luckily we didn't have to wait for a long time until someone stopped who was also going to Gori and I couldn't believe our luck, turning around with a scream of joy towards my friends and a bright big smile accompanied by a grateful 'didi madloba!' towards the driver.
I noticed my tiredness in the moment when I fell into the seat. 'Goddamn, hitchhiking is tiring!' flashed through my head and I watched the lights and signs passing by one by one with the emerging feeling of proudness somewhere in my chest. We made it! We actually made it, without speaking qartuli and furthermore on a not very suitable time for hitchhiking. I think we would never had got a feeling for the distance if we went by official transport-something which gets lost way too often in these times of "pre-booking-every-step-of-journey-in-the-internet". I guess that the Caucasus is one of the last places on this earth, which is not completely conquered by european backpackers who have all the same aim: finding a track noone was ever on before. Tourists, who are looking for adventure, somehow, somewhere, as easy to get as the Fast Food in the streets, even paying for it, just to have a story to tell afterwards when getting back home. But not here-because here the adventure gets you first!