zondag 19 oktober 2014

one day in the life of a small crossing.

As a contrast to the big Enguri crossing, we visited one of the five smaller ones that provide an entry point into Abkhazia as well. Here you see some pictures of the Khurcha crossing, near the village of Orsantia. The five 'small' crossings are mainly used for trade and family visits. It is the time of the hazelnut harvest, and since Nutella and Ferrero Rocher discovered the riches of the Black Sea shores recently, business is booming. Nuts are brought from Abkhazia, and sold to the Georgian traders who are in contact with international buyers. It is said that annually twenty tons hazelnuts are crossing the ABL (the administrative boundary line, yes).

Apart from the all the nutty business, the crossing seemed a quiet place.  

It turned out the Russian border guards, probably conscripts, were as curious for us, as we were for them. 

There was something of a Wild West atmosphere, with lots of cigarettes, motor bikes and wodka. 

Talking about cigarettes: you probably find this type of claw machines only in Georgia. Imagine, and this particular one was placed at a remote border crossing! 

Georgians who cross are usually able because they got hold of certain documents. If you don't have the right documents, no crossing. As simple as that, even when you live there your whole life and even if everybody knows your mum lives in the next village. 

There's different 'right' documents. One type is an old Soviet passport. It turned out they are still useful, at least at the Georgian-Abkhaz ABL. During Soviet times, a passport was valid for life, and with pictures taken only during your childhood, twenties and fourties, some old people still manage to use them to cross with. 

Another way is an Abkhaz passport. With the 'international' version, you're able to travel to Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru, the only countries recognizing the Abkhaz state obviously. If you, as an ethnic Georgian, happen to carry a Georgian passport as well, there won't be any trouble crossing back-and-forth (although the Georgians officially say you're crossing nothing - you just move around in Georgia). Carrying an Abkhaz passport is a sensitive topic for ethnic Georgians though, which makes it a tricky strategy.

There's also an Abkhaz 'internal' passport. There's no big difference with the international one though, but with this one you can't travel to South America or the Pacific. Note that most Abkhaz inhabitants also carry a Russian passport, which they use for the biggest chunk of the usual passport stuff.

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