This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
In the fall of 2013, I traveled to the Republic of Abkhazia to experience first-hand the festivities surrounding the 20th anniversary of their victory against the Georgian army — the event that gave birth to the country in its current form. Abkhazia is a ghost nation; it is not recognized by the international community and it still officially belongs to the country of Georgia
To get there, I had to travel through Georgia and three different border crossings. Needless to say, the two places are not on the best terms.
Almost completely cut off from the outside world, Abkhazia is still suffering from a war that’s very much alive in people's minds. Located in the backyard of the Sochi Olympics to the Northwest, the Caucasus republic is wedged between southern Russia, Georgia, and the Black Sea. Its economy is sluggish but that doesn't defeat the people's spirits.