We left the capital of the Republic of Georgia on an overcast day. An elderly Georgian gentleman agreed to take us as far as the border. We negotiated a noon departure, in order to allot Jon and me enough time to sprint over to the National Archeological Museum.
The National Archeological Museum is located on the basement floor of what I call the “Museum Mothership” (or “MM”). The “MM” consists of four separate museums, divided by floor. The top floor is the Museum of the Soviet Occupation, which we breezed through the previous afternoon following our return from Uncle Joe’s. The Heritage Museum on the 3rd floor and whatever they intend for the 2nd floor were both inaccessible to us.
Most of the 30 or so exhibits in the Archeological Museum are displays of golden earrings and necklaces recovered from ancient burial grounds better than 2,500 years old. During my subdued walk back to the hotel to await our white-haired, grandfatherly driver, I tried to work out, in my mind, roughly how many generations of Georgians had called that six-block stretch of land home.
Tsergo met us out in front of the hotel. We loaded up our things and drove south toward the Armenian border. We rolled deeper into the mists that clung to the valleys of the ancient mountain-people, as equally-ancient strains of Sakartvelo folk music filled the shiny new Suburban. I spent the hour or so to the border replaying in my mind the conversations I had with numerous proud Georgians during my brief stay. The common refrain throughout my experiences with the Georgians was that all of them were eager – in fact, seemed to actively seek opportunities – to impress on me their pride in Georgian culture, music and food.
In 1930, Americans Gorrell and Carmichael wrote a song about an altogether different Georgia which includes the lyrics, “… no peace I find. Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.”
I’m listening to a CD of just-purchased Georgian folk songs as I write this, and I am instantly transported back amid the pretty mountain villages and pine forests which dotted our drive south. It occurs to me that both the American duo and Georgian songsmiths of old share an overwhelming love for their homelands. I have only the smallest understanding of Georgians and their country, but then, this was just the first of many future visits to this lovely South Caucasus Republic.