Thursday, 19 January 2012

Crossing borders diplomatic style and more dental work

Steve, the British Defence Attache, offered us a lift from Yerevan back to Tbilisi. Needless to say we nearly bit his arm off and were perfectly happy to fit in with his work plans. His chauffeur picked us up, with our grubby backpacks, in his plush Range Rover, outside the British Embassy. It was sleeting as we left Yerevan and the low cloud was reducing visibility on the high passes. I was glad to be in a vehicle which would have passed an MOT, and sat back and relaxed in the leather seat. This was beyond doubt the most luxurious mode of transport we had experienced on our trip. But the best was yet to come.

At the Armenia/Georgia border we experienced border crossings diplomatic style. This consisted of driving to the front of the queue (a Range Rover has no problems mounting the curb and using the pavement), hand passports to the driver, wait for driver to get them stamped and then proceed whilst trying to avoid eye contact with those in the queue scowling at you - knowing full well that the next time I crossed the border I would the one scowling in the queue.

Back in Tbilisi I had to face yet another dental appointment. My dental 'episodes', as James liked to call them, had been numerous, and too long to transgress here. This particular episode had actually started in Nepal on Day 10 of our trek when I cracked a molar but then had been made worse by the Tajikistan episode and now I couldn't ignore it any longer. I knew I had found a good dentist to do the work in Georgia when I noticed that the American Ambassador had the appointment after mine - an American wouldn't just go to any dentist surely?

I needed another root canal and unfortunately this meant lots of injections. The dentist found it very difficult to inject the correct spot to numb the pain and I must have had over 20 injections. The reason for this difficulty was apparently due to me having elderly teeth! Something related to the location of the injection needing to be different for elderly people. I was not quite sure what was more annoying, the resultant bruise on my left jaw or being told that I had elderly teeth.

During the week of dental appointments I developed a sty on my left eye. This resulted in the eyelid swelling up all red. I now had a bruise on my left jaw and a swollen left eye. I looked in a terrible state, and James was embarrassed to be seen with me, thinking that people may have thought that he caused it. Luckily Steve had invited us to stay at his house so I could recover whilst watching the BBC. However, it did mean an emotional goodbye to the Why Not? Hostel cats who I had got a soft spot for.

In between dental appointments James and I managed to fit in a day trip out to Mtskheta (Georgians like strings consonants together). Just north of Tbilisi and a short marshrutka ride away, Mtskheta is one of the oldest town in Georgia and for this it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. At its centre is the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, where I donned a headscarf to take a look around. Mtskheta is also famous its   lobio a hearty bean dish cooked in a clay pot. It was another bitterly cold day, although the sun was shining, and we were glad of the piping hot, filling meal before heading back to Tbilisi.

These were our last few days in Georgia and we were soon to head off on our last journey, west, towards Turkey.

Murky weather on the drive from Armenia to Georgia

Tbilisi in the sun

Mother Georgia - the statue overlooking Tbilisi

Inside the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta

Woman waits outside the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta

1 comment:

  1. Hello, fascinating read!
    Can you tell me, out of interest, how expensive the dentist was?
    Perhaps you remember.
    I live in a country with unaffordable dentistry.
    Many thanks