Georgiansareproudoftheir 7000 years (orsomesaid 8000 years) winemakinghistory, probablythefirst winemakingcountryintheentireworld. Everyfamilyhavetheirownhomemadewineandchacha (hardalcoholmadewithstemsandskinsofgrapesorlocalfruitssometimes). Thesehomemadewineandchachacouldbewildandraw, butyoumayfindreallygoodonesifyouarelucky. Thethingis, theydon’treallyneedgoodwinewiththewaytheydrink. Iftheyarehavingafeastorgathering, namedas ‘supra’, guestsgatheredatalongtable, withatoastmaster, or ‘Tamada’ sayingapoem, ortoastwithalongspeechevery timeanddrinkbottomupaftereachtoast, thenaccompanywithapieceofbreadorgrilledmeatorforchachaorvodka, accompanyingasipofwaterorsoft drink. Andthatcouldgoonallnight. Weonlysawthemgatheredinarestauranthavingsuchbigfeastandunluckilyhaven’tbeentoone at home duringourmonthstayinGeorgia.
home-made chacha distillation
home cellar in Kutaisi
Georgiansareverygenerousaboutalcoholtoo. Many a time, we were walking down the street, bumpedintosomegathering, usuallyguys, inafleemarket, aweddingpreparation, aconstructionsite, oreveninfrontofagrave, wewereinvitedtojoinandwereofferedchacha or homemade wine. Once, inKutaisi, we even got a wholetwo liter of winewhenwewerepassingsomeone’sgarden. AllIcouldsayis, Georgiansareextremelyhospitable. Wearetoldthatit’snormalfora Georgianmantodrink 10 litresofalcoholforoneevening!
Staying in Akhaltsikhe for one more day because of the good deal of cheap stay in guesthouse, on the last day of sight seeing we went to the Sapara monastery. Hoping to get a lift for 10.2 km southeast of the town, we waited on the crossroad for an hour on Monday noon (yes we are late again taking off) and there was still no vehicle taking us. So we walk on along the road. We passed village and still followed the road out of my photographic memory of the offline map, not realizing hat there was actually a short cut directly up to a pass. We walked zigzag up passing meadow and had a good view of the town and the old town castle.
When there was still 3 km to go, we were picked up by a father of the monastey who drove a nice big 4x4. We arrived the monastery where there was a monk waited for us to show us the church. He opened the lock and let us see the inside is the church. The fresco was beautiful and well kept since the church was built on the 13th century. David the monk then showed us the old church meat to the current one, it was built even earlier on the 9th century but the fresco had been covered by oil painted during the soviet time and was completely destroyed. We were left some time to walk around to take some pictures. There was ruin of old castle on the nearby hilltop but we were not interested in climbing up. We picked the sweet water from the spring near the resident building for the monks.
David offered to find car to drive us half way back. That's so nice of him.
While waiting for the car he let us ask question about the monastery, I asked about the life in the monastery. There are now eight monks and they are like brotherhood working together, taking turns on different jobs. They include cooking, cutting trees for firewood, raising cattle and milking, conducting religious activities, receiving guests etc. There can be a male guest who can come for 5 days to live with them and their routines. They wake up at 5am sometimes even 4:30 for morning prayers, have only two meals a day, mostly vegetarian unless special occasion there could be meat.
David has been here for four years. Before that he worked in a bank and wanted a more complete life. From friend he knew this place and came as a guest. In staying he followed the lifestyle and felt a more spiritual completeness and kept on. The monks saw his eagerness to stay and allowed him to. Then he became a monk here. As first his parents were surprised and upset about it. Later they visited him and knew he have a happy life, so were less objective against that.
Winter was cold here and the monks still have to work, especially collecting firewood. It was closed off as the road to here was covered in snow, unless a tough 4x4 could risk along. There was no visitor up to five months.
The car came to pick us up for half the way, where we found he way more directly back to the village and then back to the city. In mind I am happy for David who could escape the materialistic world and find a simple lifestyle that makes him happy. Also from the simplicity he has more complete spiritual life and gets closer to God.
Hope we can do the same too. Happy and spiritual life is in fact not too difficult to reach. Somehow the modern and materialistic lifestyle make such a simple life difficult to reach. Is it just a matter of being able to let go ? It also involves attitudinal change about value of change.