Saturday, September 8, 2007

How to go to Abhazia, Day 15 - 17

On Day 15 Nastja, Danny and me met in Adler at the railway station to got together to Abhazia. Because Nastja was calling to the Minestry on day 14, they send at last the entrance paper per email to us. It was important for them to know, in which date we will pass the border. When we applied for this paper, we wrote just a time span. If you want get this paper, applie for it, like we did, and if you know the exact date call there again. Everybody there speaks Russian, even if they don't want. I was searching 2 h in the town for a shop whith ink cartriges for Mishas printer and then finaly I hold it in my hands!

We went by a Minibus to the river Psou, wich is the border between Russia and Abchazia. The bus drove quite near to the border, so it was not neccessary to rent a woman for the luggage :-). It was not allowed to take pictures at the border, but maybe Danny did and I can get the pictures later from him a nd post some. [ I sit right now in the flat on the bytcha-hill and write on Mishas computer. Valodja, Mishas father arrived yesterday evening. He was a bit drunken after a visiting a friend and is sleeping now (11:40, Day 19). Since he arrived, the telefone is ringing every 10 minutes and somebody is asking for him. I feel like a secretary. ]

At the russian side of the border, the police, like everytime, asks about our registration. We could explain, that we have no registration, because we are travelling all time around, and did not stay longer than 3 working-days at one place. This is right, but they wanted to see the tickets, which we had not with us. He took my passport and went away for 10 minutes, came back and I could pass (always the same). A lot of people are passing the border, the counters are crowded. There is a lot of trading between Russia and Abhazia, but the trades are brought just by feet over the border. There is the possibility to go with a car to Abhazia, but I saw a really long row of cars, and I think it lasts several hours to pass it. Maybe they need some extra papers for cars also. The people bring flour, sugar and so on on big trolleys. They pass the border a lot of times a day, and they are not really checked on the Abhazian border, they know each other.

Because there are no trains, no flights and no ships to Abhazia, I think it is the only way to supply the people (and by the way, the only way to go to Abhazia for a not russian European). The airport and the harbour are closed. Officialy there is one train a month from Suhum to Moscow, but for 100% sure, this tracks are not used by a train the last years! They are just really in a bad condition. In Suhum is a harbour. Sometimes a ship from Turkey is comming without permission to bring people and trades to Suhum. If the Georgians catch this ships, the trades are taken, the ship will be sold, and if you have an abhazian passport, you have to stay 2 month in a prison in Georgia, like it happened two weeks ago. Some old women are saying that the border will be closed for 200 days, when the olympiade goes on 2014 in Sochi. I don't know it is true or just some myth.After the russian pass control, we went over the river Psou. A woman was taking a bath, exactly in the no man's land. I think she was just crazy. For sure, the mines are brought away from this river, but I would never take a bath exactly on the border. On the abhazian side, they asked us about our entrance permission and they were really surprised that we had one. I think, not so much Germans passed this border like this this year. We had to go to an office, where some people where sitting and waiting for an answer from the abhazian minestry. We could not agree, which citizien they were, but for sure Asians.

Thanks to Nastja, that she called, so we had not to wait some hours like the others did. For Russians it is quite easy to go pass the border. A lot of tourists are going to Abhazia. There are several tourist attractions like the Monistary in Novie Afon and most deepest cave (or the second deepest, how knows) of the world, and the relly beautyfull lake Riza in the mountains near the Russian border. Tourist places in the mountains can be visited with guides without problems, but it is not recommended to go there on your own account, because the Georgians left al lot of mines after the war 92/93. Just right now a UN commando is around Suhum and searching for mines. Swimming in the sea is also very good, just somtimes avoid the places around the embouchures. It could happen, that a mine travelled with the ice from the mountains to the sea.

We took a bus to Suhum, because we had to visit the minestry to buy a visa (10 $ for 10 days), wich will be our exit paper (Russians don't need). A bus takes 3 h from the border to Suhum. When I went back I took a minibus and this is much faster, approx. 1 h 40 min., but they drive with a high speed on bad roads, hm, a big bus is anyway more save.

Cemre, Hayri and Jansel.

Cemre was our host in Suhum. Thanks a lot for it!!! Hayri is an author and wrote a book about the peoples from the Caucasus. Jansel is doing a intership at the Minestry of foreign affairs in Suhum. They are born in Turkey, but are descended from the Caucasian people, and now living in Abhazia and in Turkey. Their families were departed 150 years ago from the Russians to Turkey and now they want to build up a new abhazian state.

My exit visa, the best, nobody was interessted in it, when I went back to Russia...

A old hotel at the boardwalk, burned down in the war and next to it a very popular new one.

The view from Cemres flat

The philharmonie of Suhum

A eucalyptus-tree called in Russia "The tree without shame", because he looses every year his bark.

A good and traditional restaurant in Suhum.

The food has quite a good quality and tastes really fine. The beef is dryed over the fire and in the kettle is a souce made from beans. It is served with some white porridge made from flour, m'jam...

A ofen for lavash, a sort of flatbread.

The dough is sticked on the inner side of the stone, wich is hot and backed by this way.

The military sanatorium.

After buying a permit for 30 Rubels (which is the currency in Abhazia, it is to expensive to print own money), we went in a sanatorium guided by the russian millitary and for mebers of the military their realtives . It is a strange place, where, hidden by some camoflage, some satellite dish and tanks and some other military stuff stands in some lonley corners. People told us, that it is expensive like a sanatorium in Sochi, but here are not so much people and the beach is more beautifull. The Abhazian look with antipathy to this fenced in place. There are some discos, bars, sportplaces, beach-volleyball and so on.


Anonymous said...

Heike! du bist echt mutig! na ja mit abhasien und so... ich bin vielleicht super paranoid hier in deutschland geworden :)) aber seit einiger zeit habe ich ein wahnsinniger schiss vor adventures solcher art. :)) irgendwie scheint mir immer dass die mutmasliche entführer überall herum hängen... :)) und diese kriege und so... viele grüsse an Uj und mischa und karina

lg aus hamburg

HeLeUm said...

AHoi HH,

also wir waren ja zu dritt. Als noch nicht klar war, ob Nastja und Danny mitfahren, habe ich schon ein bisschen schiss gehabt. Man weiss ja nicht, was einen erwartet. Aber es hat sich wirklich als voellich harmlos herausgestellt. Man kann auch von Sochi aus ganz regulaer einfach einen Ausflug dorthin buchen, als ganz normales Touristenziel. Wenn man einen russischen Pass hat, ist das ganze ziemlich unspektakulaer.

Ich hoffe, dass es dort nicht wieder zu irgendwelchen Auseinandersetztungen mit den Georgiern kommt, und dass sich Russland ziemlich neutral verhaelt, damit das Land dort zur Ruhe kommen kann.

Ein bisschen internationaler Toursimus bekommt dem Land ganz gut. Ich wuerde jetzt auch alleine hinfahren, mal schaun, was ich naechstes Jahr so treibe.

Nastja und Danny fahren heute wieder mit dem Zug nach St. Petersburg zurueck.

Viele liebe Gruesse
nach Hamburg! (und den Rest der Welt :-) )

Lucia Sgueglia said...

Lucia, italian, free lance journalist based in Moscow. Of course I speak russian, just got back from Tskhinvali... with a friend we're going to Abkhazia next week and searching for pure taste of place... do you think Cemre and/or the man writing book on Caucasus or the one from turkish diaspora could host us or offer us a room? Would be great to get any useful (and not all official) contacts from you anyway. hope you can help. I liked your story telling. All the best from me, Lucia

HeLeUm said...

Hi Lucia,

you didn't leave an email address...
Best to contact cemre ist
Her nick is jadecemre. She does not host now, but maybe she can give you advice.
but I think because of the last political changes it will be difficult to get a good place.
Read more there: