Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 11-17 July: Красота спасет мир. Or may be not.

Summer, sun, holidays.
Everybody wants to enjoy warmth&light, after a long winter, before another long one.
Youngsters pack their backpacks and check on websites or on the Holy Book, the Lonely Planet, wild, enjoyable, affordable places.

Since the Holy Book of backpackers released an edition on Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the South Caucasus faced an increased number of budget travellers.
Many of them go hiking on the mountains, from Kazbegi to Aragats, spend some days in the characteristics Tbilisi downtown, mix with locals in Yerevan pubs and clubs, visit old Baku.
And then again into the wild, via marshrutka uphill, downhill, to monasteries, ruins, rivers, villages, thermal springs.

Tourists are fascinated by hospitality, variety (three countries, three alphabets, three languages, three religions...), the outstanding nature (and here again variety: from exotic flowers and palms to 5000 metres picks), unrecognized states... some of them, looking for an "adventurous" holiday, do their best to reach Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia.
You meet them in restaurants, questioning each other if with the Karabakh visa in the passport there will be problems upon entering Azerbaijan, or whether it would be better to pass via Iran to Nakhchivan and then...
There's one of the few places where all these political issues are just intriguing, and where the South Caucasus is nothing but a wonderful, united region, worthy to be travelled all over, up and down: a traveller's mind.

Summer festivals in cities, like the Golden Apricot International Festival in Yerevan, remind of the culture and of the art, both traditional and post-soviet, and of the existence of an intelligentija which doesn't enjoy the visibility it most probably deserves. Opened by a jazz concert in the sqaure in front of Moskva cinema, the Festival ends today, after having guested stars and intellectuals.

In this period of the year, in the bloom of tourist season, a refreshing breath of normality blows through the region.
Not that you need tourists for that, but somehow their presence reduces the perception of isolation. The diasporas come back, depopulated houses have their windows opened again.
It's the nice feeling that indeed, quoting the much inflated Dostojevskij's words, beauty will save the world.
Or may be not.

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