We would love to show you more photos of Kutaisi. It’s very photogenic with its Russian architecture, parks and monuments. It’s also getting a lot of attention and development money from President Saakashvili’s administration. Unfortunately, our camera broke during our dino expedition to Sataplia and we didn’t replace it until after we left Georgia two weeks later.
Walking through its bazaar was an intense sensory overload experience. Imagine the streets packed shoulder-to-shoulder; honking Ladas vainly trying convince the crowds to part; sparks screaming from a tool sharpener’s grinder; a chorus of fluffy chicks trampling each other in cardboard boxes; a butcher splitting a whole hog down the middle, its blood slippery and congealing in the dirt; tables groaning under overflowing crates of produce and sacks of spices; sweaty old men selling lighter fluid and shoelaces and prayer cards; beggar women, many with a babe at the breast, mumbling with palms outstretched; poultry and rabbits in various states of undress and dismemberment; women chatting with each other while casually dangling a live stew hen by its legs.
The Rioni river that splits Kutaisi in two was raging with muddy force from daily thunderstorms. We crossed it by a swaying cable car that deposited us in a hilltop amusement park. In a section of the park away from the rides was a very sad bear, plopped down with its scruffy behind in an old tire. We fed him several apples and he seemed appreciative. I still feel sick to my stomach thinking about the look in his eyes and his tiny, filthy cage.
We spent quiet evenings on “our” porch at Giorgi’s Homestay, listening to the thunder and the rain pattering on the grapevines, and thinking about where we wanted to go next.