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Georgia and Armenia are very small countries that have their own languages and alphabets, no similar to any else. So it is impossible to understand and read anything. But I was delighted that most of the people speak Russian, as contacts with locals are very important for me. The people were very friendly and helpful, everywhere they wanted to talk to us, in marshrutkas, hotels, bars, specially when they learnt we were from Poland. Very often they hugged us when we left, wishing us pleasant journey. Sometimes it was a great fun when all marshrutka raised toasts with chacha (white vodka, very strong, 70%) for Georgian-Polish friendship.
In this way we learnt about the everyday life in Georgia. The economical situation is very hard. Very often people asked us about our pension. We felt embarassed. The pension in Georgia is the same for everyone, independent of how many years someone worked. It amounts 150 lari, it is around 86 USD per month! I can't imagine how they can survive with it. The prices are lower than in Poland, but not so low. For instance - 1 kg of better cheese is 15 lari, a meal in bar - around 10, soup - 6. Unemployment rate is very high - around 60%. The factories are all closed, and why? It reminded me the situation in communist Poland thirty years ago. But even then it was not so bad.
For tourists, the public transport is very cheap. The ticket for sleeper from Tbilisi to Zugdidi costs 11 lari. But hotels are not very cheap. Budget hostels (twin rooms with or without private bath) around 50 lari.

Most of the women in Georgia are dressed in black. At first, seeing the groups of women in black we thought it was a family going for funeral. In churches women must have a scarf on the head, in monasteries also the trousers are forbidden and they lend a long black skirt.

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Additional Photos by Malgorzata Kopczynska (emka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4841 W: 81 N: 12158] (72032)
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