Promoting local initiatives and events in Pankisi ValleyThis blog offers an insight into interesting projects, initatives and events happening in Pankisi Valley which Nazy's Guest House and its partners are involved in.
During spring this year we walked around the villages surveying the local attractions in order to create a tourist map and cultural guide service. During our tour we discovered how beautiful our valley was and the wealth of attractions it offered for tourists to see and experience, but sadly we also found there was a serious problem in all villages along the river banks where piles of waste was dumped.
This problem of neglect has grown due to the increase in population and consumption but also due to ignorance and lack of education, awareness and social consciousness. Most of the litter we found consisted of plastic and glass bottles and metal cans for alcohol and soft drinks, as well as plastic wrappers, clothes, nappies, household waste, food, glass and other materials some of which are toxic and hazardous. We felt embarrassed to see this mess on our own doorstep.
The responsibility to collect the rubbish along the river is not undertaken by the regional administration that only collects waste from the large bins situated near shops and homes along the only main road. A stony road runs parallel to the main road from Duisi along the outskirts of the villages next to the river bank and has access lanes for the refuge collection trucks to get too and from the rubbish dumps from the main road on the western side (Duisi, Jokolo, Birkiani and Dvibakhevi). The road on the eastern bank of the Alazani River (Kvemo, Shua and Zemo Khalatsani, Dumasturi and Omalo) is in good condition and refuge collection trucks operate along it.
Rubbish dumps create many problems including environmental pollution of land and water, and air when plastics are burned. More than just an eyesore the piles of rubbish left by local people can harm the children who swim and play nearby, and dangerous to grazing cows, sheep, horses and turkeys, as well as birds, fish and other wildlife and plants. The Alazani River provides drinking water and is used by animals and there are trout and other species of fish that thrive in it.
If we accept that we would not throw litter in our own homes and gardens then surely it would be irresponsible to litter our natural environment which is our home too.
The garbage problem in Pankisi and across Georgia exists because there is no efficient recycling and waste management infrastructure and lack of accountability by the state and its citizens to protect and care for our environment. Locally, we felt there was a need to educate members of the community particularly children and young people who tend to litter more and this was a good starting point. We conducted our first clean-up activity in Pankisi Valley on Sunday 23rd November 2014 in Jokolo.
We discussed the problem of waste management, environmental protection and awareness building projects to promote a clean environment with Giorgi Gobronidze from the Institute for Regional Development and Cooperation who stayed as a guest. He managed to attract a dozen students from Georgian American University to assist in this project. These young volunteers from Tbilisi joined a small group of school children from Jokolo to help us with the clean-up operation. Local people also assisted when they learned what we were doing and police officers attended and helped to transport the heavy bags of waste in their jeeps and deposit them in the large refuge bins situated on the main road. The event was also attended by journalists from different Georgian TV, radio and newspapers. It was a cold winter day and everyone was wrapped up warm.
At the start Giorgi introduced the university students to the local school children and explained the aims of the project activity and plan. The volunteers were divided into smaller groups and each group concentrated on cleaning up sections along 200 metres along the Alazani River near Jokolo. Each group was equipped with gloves, plastic bags and brooms. There was a lot of rubbish to clean up at this location and took several groups a few hours to achieve. The results were spectacular making the area a pleasure to look at and walk around.
In total a group of 25 people collected 30 large bags of rubbish in 4 hours. If each village organised this many people once a month they could also clean-up areas close to them. The exercise created a buzz around the village and many people commented it was positive but embarrassing seeing people from outside the valley coming to clean up their area. We are hopeful more people will join in future activities. Our next step is to involve the schools and Mosques to educate young people and provide opportunities to participate as volunteers in clean-up activities in their village.
This activity was good chance for local children get to know each other, make new friends and learn interesting things. After the work the school children had an opportunity to ask questions. Giorgi explained the importance of the need for everyone to protect the environment by keeping it clean of rubbish. The children were enthusiastic and said they would be happy to take part in future clean-up projects.
After the clean-up I invited the group to my guest house for refreshments and to relax before going on to meet Khaso Khangoshvili the local historian and member of council of elders in Duisi. He is also the curator of the Ethnographic Museum located in Duisi. The group then met Makvala Margoshvili, the renowned leader of Pankisi’s female Sufi ensemble ‘’Daimokhk’’ before returning to Tbilisi.
I would like to say special thanks to all the volunteers, Giorgi Gobronidze and his organization and students from my university, Jokolo school children and community members, as well as the police, who were involved in clean up.
We welcome new volunteers next year in Spring 2015 so please join in.
We made our first Churchkhela in October this autumn with the help of our guest Naomi from Japan. Naomi enjoys new experiences so teamed up with us to make lots of Churchkhela. She was delighted with the results!
Churchkhela is a traditional Georgian candy which is many people referred to as ‘Georgian Snickers’. It is a healthy combination of grape juice and nuts (walnuts or hazel). You can find Churchkhela hanging in shops and markets across Georgia.
Firstly, we prepare the filling consisting of walnuts. We thread walnut halves facing upwards through the center then cut the thread from the needle and knot both ends. We make strips of up 20cm long. We start by cooking flour and sugar together mixed with grape juice which is boiled and stirred in a metal pot outdoors under a wood fire for 40 minutes. The sticky mixture that results is called Tatara and is dark brown.
While the Tatara is still hot we hold the string at one end then dip the individual walnut parcels into the Tatara to coat them using a wooden spoon and then slowly pull them up and then hang them individually on a pole to dry for 4-5 days until the coating is no longer sticky. Finally, the strings are cut off. Churchkhela is transportable, tasty and healthy providing glucose and protein. The Churchkhela from Kakheti is reputed to be the best in Georgia.
Our family make Churchkhela in October when the weather is still good and sun is shining. In October we harvest our white and black grapes and prepare juice from them. We pick walnuts from our big tree which stands in our garden and from trees along the Alazani River. When we are preparing the walnuts and cooking the Tatara mix it feels like a celebration with everybody joining in. We invite our relatives, neighbours and friends and it becomes a fun social activity make fun with jokes and lots of laughter. After the Churchkhelas is made everyone joins in to eat the remaining Tatara, which is delicious!
Our guests can join in and learn how to make delicious Kakhetian Churchkhela.
This year has seen a number of interesting visitors to Pankisi Valley and Nazy’s Guest House. Among our guests this year was a Japanese television film crew that came to film Pankisi Valley, Kist people and their culture as part of a travel film promoting Georgia to Japanese people. The filming in Pankisi was done over a week during September. We worked closely with the co-ordinator Yujiro Watanabe to advise and assist him, the film director and his team.
The film crew worked very hard from morning to late evening and were very polite and professional. We were informed the film was shown in October 2014 to a large Japanese television audience and it was received very enthusiastically. Subsequently, we started to get emails from people in Japan saying how much they liked the valley and guest house and would like to visit.
Yoichi Watanabe is a Japanese photographer and the film follows his footsteps when he visited Pankisi valley in 2005 and 2009. He was deeply moved by the people he met and places he visited and wanted to return to see what had changed and document the life of a peaceful community still unfortunately perceived by the west and the wider world as a dangerous place.
My family and community would like to thank Yoichi Watanabe, Hirotoshi Takeoka the director and his crew, and Yujiro Watanabe for coordinating, for creating awareness of Georgia, Pankisi valley and Kist/Chechen people.
It gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of our new guest house in the beautiful Pankisi Valley (Georgia, Caucasus) and our website (http://nazysguesthouse.com), where you can find more information about us, the region and our services online.
Nazy’s Guest House is a new agrotourism and adventure travel enterprise specializing in promoting the Pankisi Valley in north-eastern Georgia as a unique travel destination ideal for trekkers and nature enthusiasts, who love to explore stunning landscapes and enjoy meeting people from different cultures.
Please visit our website for more information and recommend Nazy’s Guest House to your friends, family and colleagues. We welcome your feedback and comments.
მინდა, დიდი სიხარულით გაუწყოთ ჩვენი სასტუმრო სახლის გახსნა ულამაზეს პანკისის ხეობაში (საქართველო, კავკასია) და ჩვენი ვებ-გვერდის ატვირთვა ინტერნეტში (http://nazysguesthouse.com) , სადაც შეგიძლიათ მეტი ინფორმაცია მიიღოთ ჩვენი მომსახურებისა და რეგიონის შესახებ.
ნაზის სასტუმრო სახლი არის ახალი აგროტურისტული და სათავგადასავლო, სამოგზაურო ინიციატივა, რათა ხელი შეუწყოს პანკისის ხეობას. ეს არის უნიკალური მხარე მოლაშქრეებისათვის და ბუნების მოყვარულთათვის, ვისაც უყვარს განსაცვიფრებელი პეიზაჟები, განსხვავებული კულტურა და ტრადიციები.
დამატებითი ინფორმაციისთვის გთხოვთ, ეწვიოთ ჩვენს ვებ-გვერდს. შესთავაზეთ ნაზის სასტუმრო სახლი თქვვენს მეგობრებს, ოჯახის წევრებსა და კოლეგებს.
მივესალმებით თქვენს კომენტარებს, მოსაზრებებსა და შენიშვნებს.
Flower Harvesting in Spring by Nazy
Every spring our family harvests the Staphylea Colchica flowers (Jonjoli in Georgian) from its trees on our farm, which we prepare as a marinade and eat throughout the year. In fact across the Pankisi Valley you can find many families doing the same. Families that don’t grow these trees go to the nearby forests and collect them from there.
The beautiful white flowers blossom in April and produces an orange scent which fragrances the air across the valley. It is also a time which brings the family and neighbours together, and everyone has an enjoyable time picking the flowers. We hear many interesting and funny stories told by our elders about their childhood. This is a wonderful opportunity for young and old to share quality time and have fun together.
On our farm we have 25 mature trees. They grow up to about 3 metres tall. They are small and rounded but look beautiful when the flowers are in blossom. We planted the trees about 20 years ago when I was a young child and have been harvesting them for about 15 years. From these trees we are able to collect about 30 kilograms of flowers. It takes about 3 days to pick by hand and we often work in pairs. In the photograph you can see my sister Tao and Mother working away. We sell about 10 kilograms at the market in Telavi for 4 Lari per kilogram if there is surplus.
Mainly the women do the work but men help also. It is good outdoor exercise for us and everyone feels tired but happy at the end of the day. For collecting we wear aprons with a deep pouch at the front to put the flowers into. After washing the flowers in cold water they are laid out to dry in the sun. We add salt and compact them into large glass jars or special wooden containers. They are stored in a cool place for 2 weeks and then they are ready. To eat the flowers we add olive oil and onions. They have a slightly sour taste and can be eaten on their own or with corn bread and cheese.
The Staphylea Colchica (Colchis Bladdernut) is a small tree belonging to the Staphyleaceae family. It is native to Georgia. Its name is derived from the western Georgian kingdom of Colchis. It is a rapidly growing deciduous species and grows best in well-drained and partly shaded locations. It has low drought tolerance. The tree is used for hedge lining.
Nazy's Guest House
Republic of Georgia