Korsha: Of poets and painters, horse racers and judoka

Khevsureti is one of the most beautiful regions in Georgia, and one of the most difficult to access. Korsha is the last village on the road leading north into the Khevsureti mountains that is still accessible during the winter months. Many tourists just pass by this little village as they are heading towards Shatili (which admittedly is pretty amazing with its medieval fortified slate houses and towers all clustered together on a slope above a river and surrounded by mountains – more about Shatili in a later post.)

However, I can only recommend a stopover at the Arabuli family’s guesthouse in Korsha, one of the best places I’ve stayed at in Georgia!┬áTo start with, this is what you might get when asked upon arrival whether you’d like “a coffee”:

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Next, if you are as lucky as I was, you may enjoy a spontaneous poetry reading session with Giorgi Arabuli, one of the three Arabuli sons, a young best-selling poet as well as theater director. (Even without the English-German translation which Giorgi and his friends provided it would have been great to just listen.)

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As a pre-dinner “snack” you might be offered home-made Khinkali, accompanied by delicious wood-oven baked bread. Officially the Korsha guesthouse offers three meals a day, but I found it difficult to count them and keep them apart as substantial amounts of food miraculously appear each time a visitor drops by (which happens frequently).

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Thus well fed, the hammock in the front yard is just too tempting to resist…

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… with nothing to worry about as you’re snoozing away: the Caucasian shepherd dogs Linda and Basa are watching over you.

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Starting to feel too lazy a visit to the small ethnographical museum right next door proved well worth leaving my hammock. The museum was built by Shota Arabuli, father of the family, local artist (see the paintings in the background of the first photo) and ethnographer, together with a friend.

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Coming back from the museum, a few more friends of the family have arrived, and after everybody has been strengthened by yet another snack the preparations for the actual dinner get under way…

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Later that evening, which continues with wine, chacha, and, of course, many toasts, I learn that another son of the Arabuli family is the Chevsureti bareback horse racing champion (besides also being an artist). We all watch the video of him riding to victory.

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The next day I really felt like I needed some exercise, and the hike in the neigbouring Chirdili valley was just the right thing.

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Also just wonderful: The horseback ride the following day up to the Abudelauri lakes (from the village Roshka) with Mamuka Arabuli (eldest son and manager of the guesthouse).

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Definitely one of the most enjoyable things about staying with the Arabuli family in Korsha was meeting their many friends, even though most of them didn’t speak English so it once again often meant mixing pantomime and whatever Russian, German, English and Georgian words we found to have in common. That’s when Dachi Shanidze, third on the right on the photo below, wasn’t around. He did a great job as my personal interpreter during my stay!

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Another family friend I met was Zviadi Gogochuri, 16th in the men’s under 90kg judo world ranking, who not only attempted to teach me some Georgian but also how to throw a basketball. I lost and still owe him a Snickers. On the photo you can see us seeing off Zviadi (second from the left) and his trainer (in the middle), wishing them all the best for the Judo Grand Slam in Moscow this weekend!

In short: A beautiful place, with incredibly warm, hospitable and interesting people. If you ever get a chance, go there!

This post is also available in Deutsch.

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