When I entered Georgia for the 3rd time, late October 2018, I asked the authorities at the border how long I could stay. ‘One year’ they said – perfect. That would leave all options open for me to stay here during the winter months i.e. to work in a ski area, or to move elsewhere and leave my bike behind until springtime. Circumstances made me decide for the latter and I was extremely lucky to have Guesthouse Vertigo offering me to host Harry while I was away. Shortly after my return, early March 2019, I moved on to cross the border to Azerbaijan. My passport was checked – again and again – I tried to explain the coming and going stamps in my passport, one with vehicle, the other without … but that wasn’t the issue. One of the officials took my documents inside the office; I was told to park the bike and to wait. That didn’t sound too good.
Especially since I didn’t carry my official documents for the motorbike; the vehicle registration card must have stayed behind in Holland somehow together with some other important pieces of paper that disappeared from the radar. I just tried my luck to cross with copies … the worst they could do was sending me back, right? Then I would just ask my family to send me a new vehicle document … the worst scenario couldn’t be too bad, right? I sticked to my plan – Harry was really mine after all, so it shouldn’t be an issue to move on with him and the copied documents … True. That wasn’t too much of a problem. What caused the tumult was exceeding the maximum period of 90 days that my bike was allowed to stay in Georgia. 90 days??? Yes, 90 days. After that, you pay a fine. 50 Lari per day. But not more than a maximum of 1000 Lari. The paperwork was being drawn up for me to pay the 1000 Lari (appr. 350 Euros) … No way! Yes, these are the rules – Georgian law. What about the one year? That was for me, not for the bike. I requested the relevant laws to be handed to me in English; buying me time to think and come up with an idea how to avoid paying this fine … but there was no escape. If I wouldn’t pay, I could exit the country but Harry had to stay behind. So there was no other choice than to take my loss, and learn my lesson. An expensive lesson! On a 500 Euro budget per month, 350 Euro is a lot of money: 70% of my monthly budget gone in a day … without even knowing if I would be able to cross into Azerbaijan without my original documents!
Georgia has been a true highlight of my trip, but this just felt like a kick in the back. Sure, it was my mistake: I should have read all the laws and rules when getting here, and before leaving my bike behind. Yes, they had all the right to charge me this fine. But still, it makes me leave with a bitter taste after so many sweet experiences in this country.