There is nothing I like more than interacting with the “locals”. I always feel that if I have failed to meet and become familiar with local traditions, family life, food, or religious practice, I could have just stayed at home. Georgians have put a high hurdle.  It was not easy to get to know local residents.  The villages are much dispersed, adults are very hesitant to interact with strangers, and language skills are minimal. But I am stubborn.   A local guide has brought me to a wonderful family up in the mountain in a tiny unnamed village (I promised to keep it confidential for privacy reasons) not far from Mestia’s center.

Georgians were basically rural people until the beginning of this century, when industrialization caused a mass rural-to-urban migration, especially to the capital. In the Mestia rural area one can find deserted homes, and when asked where the inhabitants went to, almost always the answer is to Batumi or the capital Tibelisi. Often, families are split with some members in the country and the others in the city.  Those in the cities return to Mestia in the summer time when the weather is pleasant.

Our host family is an extended one, where the Grandmother lives in traditional two-story stone building with large veranda. Two of her sons live there as well, one who is married and his two young kids and the other, the eldest who is still single, and wish to find a non-Georgian wife… The third son lives across the stree

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We arrived in the late morning hours and were invited to traditional lunch. I must admit it was the best meal I had in Georgia. Everything was so fresh and tasty – nothing beats homemade food. In the west, there is a greater emphasis on vegetarian food, predominantly prepared with walnuts. Herbs and spices, especially tarragon, basil, coriander, and pepper make western Georgian food hot and spicy. Cheese is usually made from cow’s milk and is eaten with either corn bread or a corn and flour porridge. Both Grandma and her daughter-in-law were busy making Khachapuri (a kind of cheese pizza) for our lunch.  The fresh cheese within the home baked food was FANTASTIC and fattening.

The term chacha “Georgian vodka/grappa”, is used in Georgia to refer to any type of moonshine made of fruits, though it most commonly refers to grape distillate. It may be also produced from unripe or wild grapes. Other common fruits used are figs, tangerines, oranges, or mulberries. Originally only a homebrewed drink of Georgian farmers, it is today also produced by professional distillers.

We are offered homemade chacha.  Being a very strong drink I refrain from drinking as I have no tolerance for alcohol, but I was extremely happy to witness the process of distilling the “vodka” from the family’s own grown apples.

Before we left, I was invited to the tiny church at the top of the hill which is guarded by the bachelor son. I was told I was the first tourist visitor to the church which I saw as a special treat and an honor.  I had a great day!!!

 

 

One Response to “A Visit to a Local Warm and Inviting Family in Rural Mestia” Subscribe

  1. Mete Ozbek December 29, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    Amazing.. As always… Your photos always have some kind of soul which I adore…
    Thanks for sharing those amazing stories my friend…

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