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November 26, 2002

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Tropical Georgia? Look at the map and you wouldn't believe that it could be snowing in Tbilisi while the weather is subtropical in Batumi. We walk through lush botanical gardens along the Black Sea Coast (yes, the sand is black). Evidence of a receding economy exists everywhere. Cows graze along the beach in front of derelict hotels. Batumi's streets showcase washed out grandeur: old mansions decked with crumbling balconies and peeling paint. We talk over lunch and dinner with friendly Georgians that we met on a bus ride along the coast. They tell us that Georgia used to be the richest country of the Soviet Union, famous for food, wine, and high-class living. Now three wars in the past ten years have ruined the economy and left the people hard and wary. Lucky for us many Georgians upkeep hospitality and have invited us to dinner or home visits.
Cow wants a tan.
Georgian delicatessen serves the local fare, khachapuri, a bread boat filled with egg and butter. A new friend, Ira, shows the finer technique of khachapuri eating; Jill looks thrilled.
Tropical Georgia, a little bit of African landscape on the Black Sea Coast. Three hundred kilometers to the east the weather drops below freezing in Tbilisi.