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Barisakho: Other world in Georgian mountains15.05.2013 | 16:34
The biggest thing you can do for a person who has left this world is to make a hole for a brook through the rock, to give it the name of the deceased and set a bench next to it. The travelers will halt here, relax, drink cool, clear water filtered by the rocks, and grace will fill their hearts. As long as the source is alive, fame and memory of your loved ones lives. People in the mountainous region of Khevsureti in Georgia have implicit faith in this.
Barisakho is one of the biggest villages in the Georgian region of Khevsureti. The road to it is strewn with sharp stones. If not daily cleaning of this stretch of road by a special road service, the road to Barisakho would have been impassable.
Cliffs are located on one side of the road, on the other side there flows Aragva River. This time of year it is fast and has a cool temper. Local residents say that Aragva can be so affluent and steep that turns into an invincible element. And then people have to leave its inhabited coast.
Road to Barisakho is not patrolled. In any case, we did not see a single police car. Cars in general are extremely rare on this road. Every three days you can meet a bus, carrying passengers from Tbilisi, and sometimes local KAMAZ trucks are driving through, leaving behind a thick cloud of dust. Despite all this, the usual urban "traffic jams" on the roads sometimes occur here too, though for a different reason. The herds of sheep, goats and cows often block the path to Barisakho. Each flock is guarded by enormous shaggy dogs. They basically bring up the rear.
Mistress of the house where we stayed is sitting on the veranda, which is glazed only on the sides, its front side is kindly opened. Woman's name is Gulo - translated as "heart." She is a little more than 60-year-old. Waking up around seven in the morning, she sits on a wooden chair on the veranda and looks at the peak of Khevsurian mountains still covered with snow. Sometimes, wearing glasses, Gulo long reads and rereads the religious magazines. Her husband is working in the garden behind the house. For many years, Gulo has been ailing from diabetes for many years: the disease has struck her legs and every day it's more and more difficult for her to move around. Despite the illness, she smiles so that it becomes warm at heart. Although, there is something in her smile permeating through.
Figuring out the price of housing, we understood much about the population of Khevsureti. They are not greedy and do not try to enrich themselves at the expense of every visitor. They ask if you have the money. If the answer is negative, then they provide you with shelter for free. But if a visitor is solvent, then the night costs from 7 to 20 GEL. It is about 5-13 USD. For comparison - room in a rural hotel costs 40 GEL (25 USD), however, it includes two meals.
The village resides about 70 families. At first it seems there are only the children and the elderly. But then, walking through the village you meet the people of middle age full of strength.
It is noteworthy that the local women marry late, after graduating and getting a profession. They give birth to children up to 45, and sometimes to 50 years old. Many give birth at home, because the nearest hospital is in Dusheti, more than a dozen kilometers away. Not only women but also men of Khevsureti have families late, so there is no wonder to meet a 60-year-old couple with young children who look more like their grandchildren.
In the village there operates a clinic in a boarding school. Local residents are unhappy with local doctors, so they are trying to deal with diseases by themselves. But the get sick rarely. Many start the day early at 5 am to milk the cows, after that let them graze, and then go to the vegetable garden. And only then they clean up the house, cook, wash, feed the children. Sometimes they do not even have time to watch TV.
Khevsureti has never known slavery, feudal or any other system, characteristic of a particular era. From time immemorial, the people here live by their own local laws. The elders enjoy great prestige. As an example, one local custom, according to the residents, is alive to this day. If one Khevsureti resident kills another, he can pay a recompense for the life. It's about 60 cows that he can grant within a certain period of time to the family of a man he had killed, sometimes for life, and then his son inherits the debt. Men's life was more expensive than women's at all times. Men's fingers are also highly valued. The most expensive was the index finger, because it is used to pull the trigger. The most inexpensive is little finger.
Since this area of Georgia has been separated from the civilized world, the monetary system, writing and furniture came here late. They used a system of barter: they paid in vegetables, dairy products, etc. Writing came here in the late 19th - early 20th century. They are making furniture by themselves, so it is unique and unusual.
In Khevsureti you can still find a world in the early stages of development. People are pure and straightforward. They are not cunning; they are in harmony with themselves and the world. Barisakho is as one large lake with a perfectly smooth surface where you are afraid to throw a stone.