Time Stands Still in Abkhazia

I don’t usually research a destination before I go.

It’s probably negligent of me and something I should change, but many of my biggest travel surprises have come as a result of this.  I do, on the other hand, research a little deeper once I arrive to a place, and try to learn more.  But researching before I arrive?  I can’t be bothered much of the time.

My research negligence led me to be in such a state of awe throughout my entire Abkhazia stay.  Aside from researching how to get there (which, trust me, was severely lacking information on the web), I knew very little about what was going to happen once I arrived.  I had heard about Abkhazia on the news as a kid and knew that it has been in a state of war in the early 1990s.  I also knew that another war had occurred there in the late 2000s.  And for whatever reason, they were now considered part of Georgia and not independent, as they had long wished to be.

IMG_0028

I’m not going to get into politics here or my opinion on the situation after having visited, but I will state that being in Abkhazia felt 100% different than being in Georgia.  In no way did I feel that I was in part of Georgia.  Abkhazia has its own culture, language, and history.

In the 1989 census in Abkhazia, there were 525,061 people registered living in the ‘country’.  As of 2011, there are 240,705 people living there.  The population has halved since the war in the early 1990s.  And unfortunately, when a country loses half of its population in such a quick manner, it ends up with lots and lots of abandoned buildings.

IMG_1682

This harsh reality is a slap in the face to the Abkhaz people each and every day as they are forced to relive their recent tumultuous history.  And there is actually nothing that can be done about it.  For every occupied building I saw, I undoubtedly saw one abandoned building right alongside with it.  It was nostalgically haunting in every way possible.

But it left me intrigued.  It left me wanting to see Abkhazia from the eyes of someone in pre-war.  I knew I wouldn’t leave Sukhum without going inside some of those buildings that stray dogs now occupied.

I went to the Promenade and had a beer and a shot of vodka (for courage of course) and headed for a nearby abandoned bloc to explore it as much as I could.

It turns out that these buildings have taken quite a beating over the years and wars.  With the exception of some scraps and furniture, not much was left indicating previous signs of life in the blocs.

IMG_1733

But it wasn’t just the buildings that had been abandoned.  Boats, soccer fields, carnival rides…  All of it was a sign that time stands still in Abkhazia.

Photo post with several images coming up very soon…

Comments (25)

It indeed seems you know nothing about Abkhazia. From those 525,061 persons 47% were Georgians and they were ethnically cleansed and expelled from their houses in 90s. They are still denied the right to return to their homes that you call “abandoned”. The aim of ethnic cleansing was exactly for the people like you to feel it’s not Georgia but another “country”. This is called erasing of trace that continues up to now. I would rather advice you to google.

In the 1989 census in Abkhazia, there were 525,061 people registered living in the ‘country’. As of 2011, there are 240,705 people living there. The population has halved since the war in the early 1990s. And unfortunately, when a country loses half of its population in such a quick manner, it ends up with lots and lots of abandoned buildings.

Hmmm. Trying to find where I mentioned that these people were Georgian. Hmm…. still looking. Perhaps I should advise* you to read what was written instead of whatever story is implanted in your head so deeply that you feel the need to comment on a blog from whatever city in Georgia you’re trolling Abkhazia articles in.

Or Abkhaz. Still cant find a mention of ethnicity anywhere. I will continue trying.

It’s not about specifying the ethnicity. Writing that the population just halved after the war and there is no sense that this is Georgia without even hinting on the reasons for that is the indirect justification of the ethnic cleansing that took place there. Not difficult to understand what I comment about.

Thanks for your advice on how I should write my blog. Ill take your words into consideration. In the meantime, i have a couple more posts on abkhazia you can troll and pick through. You can find them under destinations ‘abkhazia’ up top. Do be sure to point out somewhere that abkhazia isnt a destination, but a part if Georgia somewhere so you can be in good company of all other Georgians trolling my site.

Hey, thanks for showing interest in my country :)). The westerners do not know much about the place, and the ones who know about it are generally prejudicial(i was even called as a genocider.anyway that’s a bit extreme).

I am also quite envious of you, after reading about your svalbard trip :). The place is too exotic for me, I will visit there one day!

And for the conflictologists having a hard time not to comment about the history of the place, please understand that both sides suffered. The Abkhaz there faced total extermination during the war, and they come out at top quite closely-with their whole history archive delibaretely burnt-. This is not a justification, just the Abkhazian side of the coin.

Hope to see you one day Megan. My best wishes.

Leave a comment

shares