On this sunny and hot Saturday, I had planned to visit the Narikala Fortress, and possibly continue to the Mtatsminda Park and TV tower, but an unexpected encounter led me to a totally different local experience…
After a little walk with my host Michael in the city, we had a refreshing drink in the shade at a café next to the Metekhi bridge. It was almost noon and without the wind the heat would have been unbearable. Then I left my host to enjoy the afternoon on my own, as I dearly value those moments alone.
I started ascending the very steep cobbled street leading to the fortress from the Metekhi bridge. It’s not very long, but really steep. When I got to the entrance gate of the fortress I had the choice to enter, but decided to walk uphill on the path along the wall. Climbing up, I made a few stops to admire the view over the city.
The fortress sits at the top of a hill above Tbilisi. The path along the wall reaches the main road that leads to the castle by the back. Where the path and road meet there is a 20m aluminium statue of Kartlis Deda, Mother Georgia symbol of the city holding a sword in one hand and a cup of wine in the other. Instead of turning left to go to the fortress, I decided to explore further on the road following the ridge of the hill to the other side.
It was very hot and I was walking in the sun. Further down the road I could see a bunch of guys with no shirt on, and decided to take mine off (best for sunburns, yes mum!) and continued walking. A few minutes later, I noticed the topless guys sitting on steps in the shade of a tree. They were three young men. One short and skinny, another taller and chunkier, and a more attractive one. Getting a second look, I was dazzled by the actual beauty of the latter. While I was still looking in their direction, another guy made a sign at me to ask for a lighter. I approached them and looked for my lighter in my backpack, with my eyes running over the amazing body: well built, beautiful hair, lovely eyes… really stunning. With another obvious sign they also asked for a cigarette, but I showed them that I only had tobacco to roll and they declined. I found the lighter, they lit one cigarette that apparently would be shared. They were really friendly. They thanked me and smiled. I left, walking slowly and taking a last look at them, and him…
… against some apricots
They also started walking again. I stopped to look at the view and let them pass by me. When they walked passed, the cute guy came towards me and gave me a handful of apricots with a gentle look. Hmmm, I love apricots! I thanked him and tagged along while tasting an apricot. It was delicious. Without a word, I expressed my satisfaction to him. We’d hardly said a word, but we both knew that we couldn’t speak each other’s language.
Suddenly, the skinny one tapped on my shoulder and started miming crawling along with a gesture of invitation. “Swim?” I asked. They nodded. “Yeah, sure, cool!” I had no idea were they would take me, but with another few gestures he made, I understood it wasn’t very far. I was really excited. I love these fortuitous encounters. This is what is so good about travelling alone!
We tried exchanging a few words, starting by trying to find a common language. I listed mine: French, English, Spanish, and they did theirs: Georgian, Russian. No luck. We would work our miming… We introduced ourself like Tarzan did with Jane: George the chunky, Misha, the skinny and Guro the beautiful… Now the age. They counted on the finger in English, pointing at themselves: 1, 2. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. They are 25. When I told my age, I’d have never expected the flattery they mimed to me…! Then what I do: I travel. To explain this, I listed cities I am going to visit in Georgia. Guro stopped me on Kutaisi. This is where he is from. The others are from Tbilisi. That’s about all we started with, and as far as we could go into the conversation.
We were walking along the road. They were talking, laughing. Sometimes I could guess what they were talking about, and we laughed together. At other times we just laughed because we really couldn’t communicate. They were really friendly, and paying a lot of attention to me. I was surprised when one after another George and then Misha drew my attention pointing at my body, and did a thumbs up. They were trying to say that they liked my body… that really seemed strange to me, and didn’t know what they were expecting. Guro didn’t cast his vote… that would have seemed even stranger coming from him and I would have probably decomposed…! I thought for a moment they could be three guys in search of new experiences… that’s already happened to me!
To the hidden place
The road joined another busier one going into a curved tunnel, with cars passing really fast and close. A few 100 meters further down the road into the woods, we entered a construction site. That seemed odd, but I was really confident and glad to share such a cheerful company. The path in the construction site was getting deeper into the woods, and I could here the noise of a torrent, waterfall, and people playing in water.
We finally got to this place. A 4-meter high waterfall, with an artificial basin made with trunks, rocks, and plastics. The place was littered with plastic bottles, broken glass, and a lot of rubbish people probably dumped upstream. We took off our shoes and shorts, and got into the water in our underwear. It was fun and refreshing. We just played like kids. They jumped, we got beneath the waterfall for natural massage… They told me we’re in ‘Tbilisi Botanical Garden’.
This wasn’t very long before Guro signed to me that we were to leave. We got out of the water, took our stuff, and started walking downstream on rocks, mud and trash… I had no idea again where we were going, but just followed. I thought for a while they wanted to get away from the crowd to smoke, drink, or else…? It’s just something you can’t prevent: doubt and fear something. But I went along very confident and trustful. They asked for a cigarette, and I was glad to provide with a rolled up one.
We eventually got to a meadow by the side of the torrent, at the bottom of a cliff. A climber was practicing on the cliff. He was well equipped and his topless body was showing a good level of experience along with a perfect tan… There was a bench, and a few derelict workout infrastructures part of a fitness trail. Guro demonstrated a few pull-ups, while the others were sitting around, and smoking cigarettes I was still rolling up.
Guro loves his body, and the others are not shy in appreciating its perfection. I joined them in a few compliments and touches… We were joined by another group of guys we’d seen at the waterfall. One of them is just as well built as Guro, and the both indulged in a delicious workout exercices. Strangely enough, there were only guys, no girls. I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures, and got my phone out. They actually liked it. They workout, they know they have a great body, and they want to catch people’s attention… well, they certainly got mine. I was taking pictures, and mimicking those arm-over-shoulder signs of friendship they have as in Arab culture… Some of them started a play fighting, which was intensely erotic…
We didn’t stay long and Guro told me again we were leaving. We walked upstream back to the waterfall, where Guro started another work out for me to take pictures… Misha had noticed my real Canon SLR camera and asked to see it. I showed him and offered to take pictures with it. From that moment on, we took many pictures along the road back to Tbilisi.
I was offering more cigarettes, and at some point Misha asked if I had some money. As a good tourist, I was fearing I had been trapped with guys who made me spend a good time and eventually ask me to pay for it. It seemed very unlikely though. I ignored his requested not understanding where he was getting at, and we continued walking. We weren’t far from the first houses of Tbilisi now. Misha asked again: “Money, Shop, Coca, Chips”. It was all very clear now. He was indeed asking if I had money to buy food and drink. I found myself silly for ignoring him earlier and said yes.
Entering Tbilisi, we stopped at the first mini-market, bought a 2-litter bottle of Coke, a pack of crisps, and we sat on stairs. We started taking lots of pictures. They liked talking and watching the pictures with my camera. We were having a good time laughing, suggesting more poses and pictures to make, often having friendly touches. We started talking about food and drink by naming dishes and beverages. Guro told me didn’t drink alcohol at all. I couldn’t ask why, but we laughed at ourself miming shawarma or hot dogs…
The air was getting fresh after a few drops of a shy thundery rain, and I put my t-shirt back on. As soon as he’d seen it Guro suggested we swapped. I accepted immediately. I was very excited at the idea of wearing his t-shirt, and that would make the best souvenir of that unexpected friendly and fun encounter.
The afternoon had passed, and although I was still enjoying myself, I thought it was time to leave. I suggested we went. Guro gave me his Facebook name to send him all the pictures, and this is why I posted a lot of them. As we were walking again, they suggested we should go for tea and narguile later at night. I really loved the idea, but thought because we couldn’t talk at all that would really be a shame just to sit without being able to communicate. We had a good time this afternoon and we had really made the best of it.
We warmly said goodbye, shaking hands and kissing. I left with an ecstatic smile on my face, and a new t-shirt…