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






Nana and Shota hosted a wedding feast, followed by dancing

Nana Mghebrishvili and Shota Kiparoidze had two special dances at their wedding reception; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Nana Mghebrishvili and Shota Kiparoidze had two special dances at their wedding reception; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

Nana and Shota sign their wedding book

Nana Mghebrishvili and Shota Kiparoidze signed their wedding book on Queen Tamar bridge in the Botanical Garden; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Nana Mghebrishvili and Shota Kiparoidze were showered with paper hearts; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

Nana Mghebrishvili; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

Nana and Shota hired a photographer whose son appeared in photos taken at the Botanical Garden; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

Nana and Shota marry

Nana Mghebrishvili and Shota Kiparoidze were married in St. David’s Church on Mt. Mtatsminda, near our home; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Nana Mghebrishvili and Shota Kiparoidze were married in St. David’s Church; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Nana Mghebrishvili and Shota Kiparoidze each kissed an icon during the ceremony; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Tamaz Jalagania provided 14 swords for the wedding ceremony. The swords symbolize strength and by walking under the swords the couple will have a strong marriage. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Un-Orthodox Easter dinner

Easter dinner at a Georgian restaurant; Nana Mghebrishvili; Mari Papidze; Susanna Melo; Anderson de Jesus Lopes (dancer from Brazil), Tamuna Gabelia, and William Santos (dancer from Brazil); copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

We had a 3-language Easter dinner. Anderson spoke Portuguese but very little English or Georgian. William spoke Portuguese and a little more English. I only speak English. Mari, Nana, and Tamuna speak English and Georgian fluently, but not Portuguese. Susanna was the translator and hub of the conversation.

If Susanna and I were at home in Columbia, South Carolina, we’d probably eat ham, scalloped potatoes, peas, and bread for dinner, and we’d enjoy a glass of red wine. Tonight we had four types of pizza, mushroom dumplings, mushrooms, french fries, Cokes, and beer. Our adopted children brought boxes of chocolate. And . . . yes; it was delicious!

But best of all, Susanna and I had a really wonderful time visiting our friends. Thank you.

Our four “daughters” transform Keith into a true Svan

Tamuna, Nini, Keith, Nana, and Mari

Capturing (too much) good video

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2011

Mari Papidze viewed the six tapes from our autumn video shoot in Svaneti. In truth, Mari viewed, reviewed, re-reviewed, and re-re-viewed the tapes to ensure that we transferred the most useful parts into my computer. I was soooo pleasantly surprised to see that Mari and Nana Mghebrishvili had shot such great video. I can’t understand Georgian, but knowing the Adishi residents and looking at their interviews, I could “see” their character quite well. Because each interview was conducted in a different (and interesting) location, I also think viewers will learn something about Adishi just from seeing the backgrounds for the interviews. But we also have action—cutting hay, hauling hay, cutting wood, milking cows, making cheese, cooking dinner, and singing in polyharmony. These are the typical autumn activities in Adishi.

The visuals are good, but so are the stories spoken by Adishi residents. I’ve only received a quick, rough translation, but I know that Georgians and Americans will both be interested in our documentary film. We’ll provide subtitles in English. For the one (so far) interview in Svan, we’ll create a second version of the film—in this version, the Svan interview will have subtitles in Georgian.

We’ve begun the long process of editing!