We like to stay with different families in Adishi

In our fall, winter, and spring visits to Adishi, we did not stay with families with young children, but on our summer visit, we stayed with Gunter Avaliani and his wife Zaira, their two daughters: Ia and Jameki, and three grandchildren (from left): Lika and Giorgi Mamulashvili as well as Levani Avaliani. Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.


Zaira Avaliani prepares a meal for us on her wood-burning stove. We enjoyed kachapuri, fried potatotes, fresh tomatoes, a cheese-grits dish, and several other Svan dishes during our visit. Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.


Several Adishi children played together outside Gunter Avalianai’s home. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.


Two brave men rescue Susanna from a fast river

Gabo Kaldani carries Levani on his back across a fast-flowing river in Adishi, while Elizabeth Kaldani prepares to help him during the final steps. A group of 9 crossed the glacier-fed river in order to picnic by a beautiful, small, green lake, but on our return, we chose a different crossing, which proved to be dangerous. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.


I was the first person to attempt to cross the fast-flowing river and I made it half-way to the other shore. Then I waited on a tiny rock “island” because I couldn’t find a good place to cross the remaining distance. Susanna joined me at the half-way point. I asked Susanna to hold my camera while I tried to cross, but she preferred to attempt to cross the river first. With a big walking stick to hold onto, she thought she could make it, but the current caught both her and the stick, knocking her into the freezing water. Then the current tumbled her downstream. Fortunately, Gabo Kaldani and Shota Kiparoidze ran to her aid. They seemed to fly on top of the water! Quickly they brought her to shore. Unfortunately, Susanna’s body was severely bruised, including one huge bruise on each calf. We were afraid that a blood vessel might pop and cause massive bleeding. Fortunately, we continuously poured frigid water on her bruises, which kept the swelling under control. Unfortunately, Susanna lost one sandal. Fortunately, on the way to the river, Susanna had helped clean up the environment by picking some non-biodegradeable foam. She used the foam and a plastic bag to create a shoe so she could walk the 4 kilometers home. In the photo, Susanna is drying her dress, while walking with her custom-made “sandal.” Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.


Susanna poses with her heroes. On the left is Shota Kiparoidze, who recently married “our Georgian daughter” Nana Mghebrishvili. On her right is Gabo Kaldani and a horse he borrowed so that Susanna could ride back to Adishi. After rescuing Susanna from the river, Gabo jogged 4 kilometers, retrieved a horse from a pasture, and rode back to Susanna, who had already walked half way to Adishi. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012






Adishi-Jandara community celebrates the birth of its sons

In early August, Adishi has a festival to celebrate the births of male children who were born the previous year, and people pray for the birth of sons in the upcoming year. As in the nearby village of Kala, which celebrates the more famous Kvirikoba festival, the Adishi festival involves sacrificing sheep to the old Svani goddess of fertility, Kviria. This year, more than 150 people walked or rode their horses about 3 kilometers to a small church in the hills, where about 50 sheep were sacrificed. Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

In addition to taking sheep to the church, people also carried home-made wine, vodka and bread. Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

Mukhran, one of the Adishi leaders, brought an icon of St. George to the fertility festival. Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

Inside the Adishi church, village leaders passed a candle over each sheep, then walked the sheep in a circle, and prayed. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

For about five hours, men from Adishi and Jandara (where many former Adishi residents have been resettled), prayed over offerings such as wine, vodka, bread, sheep, roasted mutton, and money. Tarzan Kaldani (left) and Emzar Kaldani (right) make the sign of the cross as the offerings are being made. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

After their sheep had been blessed inside the Adishi church, men butchered them in the surrounding field. Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

Men hung chunks of skinned sheep from a rail until the meat could be boiled in one of the two huge cauldrons. Then families and friends enjoyed the meat as they gathered in small groups on the hillside for a picnic. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.


While waiting for the mutton to cook, a group of younger men gathered to watch each other attempt to lift a 150-kilogram stone above their shoulders and then let the stone fall behind their backs. Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.


Towards the end of the festival, people swarmed around Emzar Kaldani to give him 5 – 10 GEL notes and names of people they wanted to be blessed. Behind Emzar, colorful flags fly from tall poles. Parents who gave birth to a son the previous year created these flags and decorated them with their sons’ names. In 2012, about 15 sons were born in the Adishi-Jandara community. Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

At home in Shilda

Levan Mosiashvili invited me to his home in Shilda to meet his parents, friends and neighbors. Shilda in in Kakheti, near the mountains that form Georgia’s border with Russia. During my too-brief stay, I was able to enjoy all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables from Levan’s garden, as well as trout that he caught, red wine made by one neighbor, white wine made by another neighbor, and vodka made by a third neighbor. It was wonderful! Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

While driving me around to see the local sights, such as Ikalto Monastery, Levan bought 3 pails of peaches and more than a dozen watermelons and cantaloupes for family and friends; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Ikalto Monastery and Academy, 6-12th centuries

Khvtaeba (Holy Spirit) church at Ikalto Monastery and Academy was built in the 8th-9th century; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

An academy was founded at Ikalto Monastery in the early 12th century. It trained its students in theology, rhetoric, astronomy, philosophy, geography, geometry, chanting but also more practical skills such as pottery making, metal work, viticulture, wine making and pharmacology. Copyright, Keith Kenney, 2012.

“Mother’s bread”

On the way to Kakheti, we stopped in a village that has a tradition of baking bread in a kiln. Levan Mosiashvili bought a dozen pieces for family and friends; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

In the short time we were in the bakery, customers continuously entered and bought several pieces of “mother’s bread;” copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Thanks for viewing!

Some bloggers get 100,000 views in a single day. It took me almost 11 months to get 20,000 views, but I’m happy. I’m especially grateful to Susanna Melo, who wrote at least 27 stories and took many of the 650 or so photos on this blog.