Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rainy day in Georgia

Train Just inside Azerbaijan, August 11, 2009   
Don't blame me if today's picture is not exactly sparkling. It was a rainy day in Georgia. I walked around Tbilisi (whose Russian name is Tiflis, which reminds one of an STD. How appropriate!). I was looking for something interesting, and finally had to settle on a McFlurry just before getting on the train. Had nothing to do with Tbilisi or Tiflis--but it sure tasted good.
It was not that Tbilisi is not pretty. It is in many ways one of the prettier of the former Soviet capital cities. It's just that it was raining, and the Soviet concrete, and all the things that are broken, or under construction, or whatever get depressing after a short time. Especially in the gray rain. I wonder if these things that were built over the years here were ever really nice--or were they always just big, drab, blocks of things that don't quite work?
At any rate, I am on a train, a sleeper to Baku. It took three hours to clear the border, but they let me through. The guy across the compartment from me is hacking and wheezing--but who do you think got asked the medical questions. And the medical inspector had no idea about how to speak English. Even looking at my passport, he could not tell my name, birthdate, etc. (I thought it was because they use a different alphabet--but the Azeri alphabet is very Latinate!!! Why would you put a ghuy who does not understand how to read a passport identifying information at all in charge of the border patrol???)  At any rate, they let me thorough (despite a raging sore throat that I forgot to tell them abnout. Thus they completed my country collecting for this trip. I'm at 73--or 83, depending on what you count. From now on, I will be retracing steps and seeing countries I have visited before, and thus won't add to this silly total.   

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