Saturday, 21 August 2010

A day in Gorgit

If you have found this Blog by chance you have found an account of a unique Alpine tradition in the lesser Caucasus. Take my advice and strongly consider the trip to somewhere very special.

We had arrived in Gorgit after a three or four hours ride. The valley of Gorgit welcomed us with a wash of mist circling the valley but soon the sun drifted down behind the mountains without murmur. Our lodge was clean and welcoming and we ate our excellent supper on lodge terrace watching the wooden houses before us being swallowed up by the swirling mists stalking the valley .We were tired after an exhilarating day with our new found friends the muleteers and made our way to bed early. The following day was to be spent in Gorgit and one we were all going to cherish.

When we arrived one of the muleteers wife and her sister were already at the lodge to help unpack provisions and prepare supper. Understandably they were very shy . We were strangers ,outsiders but we were made to feel welcome. I understand the women were there all summer to look after the lodge and travelers but that is all I could discover from Orhan who was now our interpreter and details were often difficult to unravel as was his English but tried exceptionally hard.

In the morning the sun shone and swiftly burned the previous nights mists away. Our lodge had pride of position in the valley, looking down on what could only be described as the perfect idyll. Gorgit village was made up from ancient wooded cabins scattered across the valley, just far enough from the mountain to avoid the ubiquitous winter avalanche.

We asked our new friends to pose for a picture with some of the mules and horses.

We all posed for the camera and a nice team we were too.

One chap caught all of our attention. A truly lovely man who had real style but I don't think this was his objective in life but he certainly had what it takes. You need to see how his trousers are tucked into his rubber shoes. Eat your heart out John Galliano.

Our head muleteer was another stylish chap who demonstrated real grace and calm. I just wish I could sport a moustache like his.

Gorgit was built as a staging post between the villages in Macahel and Beyazsu Yayala .It is still considered as a Yayala but used only in Spring and Autumn when moving stock high up into the mountains or for the return journey back down into the valley. Some of the buildings were to keep stock in overnight while others performed as basic wooden cottages. If you are into sheds, as I am, these neat little shacks are brilliant.

Notice the shingle roofs and stones on the roof to stop the winter elements from taking the roof with it.

The pipe protruding out of the back of the building is a stove chimney. All these timber homes are built from the local chestnut. I noticed many of the boards were cut by hand if not all and the ground floor in this fine example was built for the stock - cattle,sheep or goats.

When we arrived in Gorgit I thought of the early settlers in the US and the type of buildings they were creating with the basic tools they could afford and the state of repair many settlers homes would have been in. Life was very tough for the early Americans and life was not how as it is often depicted in the movies. There was very little time to spend smartening up the place and the vernacular would have been much the same. If not more basic. Travelling around Eastern Europe I've seen many homes built in a similar way, utilising local materials while using the same basic equipment.

Yes Hassan with his cigarette looking pensive. We must have been a great worry to him although I can't think why.

At the top of the hill looking over the valley we discovered the village spring burbling away as it disgorged its trickle of sweet water.

We had a day of leisure which we spent walking up the mountain trail and beyond to discover more scenic delights.

This is me just chilling out. My health is now very poor after catching legionnaire's disease in China and I've had serious rheumatoid arthritis for 22 years so if a cripple like me can make it to Gorgit you should consider it.

Hassan and our interpreter Orhan. My advice is always travel with an interpreter if you can. It helps you connect and get out of the travellers bubble .

Here are a few more some assorted images of Gorgit our Muleteers and hosts at the Gorgit guest house .

I still have to compile this work and annotate it but until that time the images are still worth looking at .

It was time to leave and make our way to Beyazsu Yayala where things were about to get interesting.
looking back on Gorgit I wanted to understand more about the place. The the role it played in the villages life from Macahel. My picture was unclear, largely because of the quality of interpretation available and the value our fellow travelers from Macahel placed on Gorgit. It has unique qualities many of which we were only to appreciated on reflection after our journey through this magnificent land.

No comments:

Post a Comment