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Relive the day's action and insights with daily journal entries, digital photos, audio reports and more. Select one of the teams below to visit their latest entry.

Field Team
Follow Pat O'Hara's search for the perfect moment in the national parks of the Eastern Caucasus. Eleanor O'Hanlon reports, with photos by Russell Sparkman.

Georgia veteran Peter Nasmyth returns to guide us into the history and heritage of the region. Denise Rocco captures it all in digital images.

April 29:
In Ancient Groves

April 28:
Batumi and Beyond

April 26:
Fly Tusheti Air

April 25:
An Image of Eden

April 24:
The Road of Friendship

April 22:
Patriarch of the Forest

April 21:
Monastery in the Desert

April 20:
Vashlovani Reserve

April 19:
The Living Pillar

April 18:
Preparing for the Journey

April 17:
Georgian Table

April 12:
Tbilisi Overview

Email Teams in Georgia


Previous Dispatch

From: Peter Nasmyth
David-Garedja, Georgia
April 21, 2000

Monastery in the Desert

"David-Gareja," a Georgian friend once said, "is one of those places you feel you damage just by entering." Then he smiled. "I go as often as I can."

Certainly I had been curious why so many people, foreigners especially, claim it as their favorite monument in Georgia. After the brief hour and a half journey south from Tbilisi, down into the high scrub desert, I understood. Standing in those remote mountain-side caves, under 12th century frescos overlooking the wide open space of Azerbaijan, is a rich antidote to the furies of modern living. But as always, it carries a catch.

"Snakes," says Soso, loading up the car with considerably less enthusiasm than usual. "Not good." He is right. David-Gareja's elegant sandstone cliffs are a famous highrise home for the venomous Vipera lebetina. We tell Soso not to worry, that we're taking an expert – Zaza Skhirtladze, founder of the Gareja Studies Center and veteran of the region. Just before we leave I ask this charming, bright-eyed professor how he managed to escape the danger over so many visits.

Next Dispatch

SLIDESHOW: Inside the monastery
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Peter at Gareja
(43 sec)
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The Road to David Gareja

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