Pamela MacNaughtan

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Asia, so I’m used to things like crazy drivers, and the lack of road rules (or at least I like to think I am), but traveling through countries like that, and driving through countries like that, are two totally different things. The cows walking around the Turkey – Georgia border should have been a hint of things to come.

It was like common sense died after we crossed the border into Georgia. Within minutes horns were honking at us from all directions, and there were cows everywhere.

“Is there another road we can take to Tbilisi?” Charlie asked, “I’m sorry, Google doesn’t give cow optional roads” I replied with a laugh. For the next 30 to 40 minutes we dodged cars, people, and cows. People were passing us at crazy speeds, almost colliding with incoming traffic, cows were wandering onto the road whenever they wished, and if we waited for the cows to cross, well, Georgians would honk and yell at us.

It. Was. Intense.

Cows and crazy drivers weren’t the only challenge in Georgia. There was also a serious lack of road signs; which made navigating through Batumi a wee bit difficult at times, and we eventually just followed any sign that said Tbilisi, hoping we’d end up on the right highway in the end.

When we got out of Batumi (man, I was glad to get out of Batumi), and onto the somewhat quieter sections of the highway, I relaxed a little more. There were still cows on the road here and there, but they were easily avoided; when we saw them ahead of time. Sure, there was that one cow that surprised us and sent my heart racing, but we missed him, by inches, and all was good, kind of.

I was not prepared for the crazy ass mo fo drivers of Georgia. Neither of us was. People were constantly honking at us, overtaking on blind corners, and driving at crazy fast speeds.

Why did we decide to skip Batumi and go straight to Tbilisi?!

Soon it was dark and we were navigating mountain roads, with crappy headlights, and crazy drivers all around us.

Up. Down. Sharp turn. Hairpin turn. Slow down. Speed up. Heart racing. Stomach lurching. Horns honking. Truckers passing. Food stands on the side of the road. Limited visibility. Darkness.

The drive was long, and as midnight approached we were still 100 km’s from Tbilisi. I was exhausted, and Charlie was driving. I asked if she would mind if I took a nap, and closed my eyes. Half an hour later I opened my eyes to discover that we were on an actual highway, with three lanes per side, and lights. Oh, to be on the main highway again!

Navigating through Tbilisi was easier than I thought; of course, the lack of traffic helped.  As we drove through the city I was mesmerized by the clash between historic and contemporary. It was curious but incredibly interesting at the same time. I was particularly mesmerized by this lopsided Eiffel tower thingy that turned out to be a heavily lit radio tower. Why do you need to have hundreds of blinking lights on a radio tower? And what is up with all the weird statues around the city, like that lion dancing with a man, or whatever it was suppose to be?

By the time we arrived at our hostel, Why Not? it was 1:30 a.m. and we were in desperate need of sleep. Yes, it’s a shocker, we were tired. I know, I know, you just fell off your chair from shock. Sorry about that!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we push passed goals and keep driving until the wee hours of the morning? This is the second time we’ve arrived at a destination at 1:30 a.m., and I hope it’s our last. I really don’t want to drive after dark once we hit Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

We’re supposed to have a couple days here in Tbilisi, which means we can rest and mentally prepare for the road ahead. Tomorrow we need to visit the tour company handling our Azerbaijan visa. Hopefully, we can get the visa the same day, and start driving to Azerbaijan the following morning. At least that is the plan, for now. Always an adventure on the Mongol Rally.

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