|First view of our hotel across a meadow |
alongside the dried up lake
|view of the dried up lake from my room!|
|beautiful wild flowers - vetch|
Sadly our guide Maka has been feeling quite poorly for a few days and has been gradually losing her voice. Struggling to do her job and explain all the sites to us, which she has done admirably, she has to give up the struggle and we give her a warm and sincere send off that night. We are so sad to see her go but it is even more important that she does not compromise her health by struggling on.
There was a very bad electrical storm apparently in the night. I really do not like storms, but although I noticed the loss of electricity a few times and a dodgy TV signal, I managed to sleep through the worst of it without hearing or seeing the thunder and lightning!
There is a full program ahead of us for the next day. We have a new guide, Levan, introduced to us by Maka. He has a youthful enthusiasm for his country, of which he is justifiably enormously proud, and on the coach in the morning on our way to the churches and monasteries of the Kakheti region he regales us with many facts about the Georgian wine industry, including the fact that every family in this region makes and drinks 20 tons of wine each year, and the wine is exported throughout all the world's continents. There are 18 varieties of grape endemic to this region he tells us. I read later that these are just a small proportion of the more than 500 varieties grown in Georgia, of which 38 are in common use. It seems that every spare piece of land is used for vineyards here, or for growing many other crops. There is no space for the large recreational gardens so many of us enjoy - and we learn that the valley is so fertile that two harvests are possible here - a fertility and productivity clearly reflected in the larger and better standard houses in this region. The only other place I have visited with such fertility is the Portuguese island of Madeira, where again two crops can be grown each year on the same land.
|vineyards in the fertile valley|