Pankisi: living between Chechens
- Better not go to Pankisi valley just like this, people there are not so open – we heard in before. And during three our days there we had absolutely perfect hosts and we felt more welcome than anywhere.
Just before Duisi, the biggest village of 9 Chechen villages in this Kakheti region, northeastern corner of Georgia, we took a bath in the river. Our car was standing maybe 100 meters further. One car passed by, after a while came back and two people put a huge watermelon in front of our car and showed us from distance that it’s a welcome present for us. And that was just the beginning…
Pankisi valley, situated just at border to Chechnya republic of the Russian Federation is a home for many Chechen and Kists (Nakh-speaking ethnic group related to the Chechen and Ingush peoples) for long long years. There was a time when Pankisi was bombed (because it was supposed by Russians to be used as base for transit, training and shipments of arms and financing by Chechen rebels and Islamic militants), when foreigners were kidnapped, when it was really very hot in there.
But since years the valley found its peace and is different from rest of Georgia just because of religion and traditions of ethnic groups. Due to religion of Islam the way people dress up is different (women should be more covered, with something on their heads, men wear always long trousers etc.). One can hear mosques sounds, one can see men and women eating separately, small-big things.
We were lucky to meet lovely people there: Bella, Guram and Leyla and all their families. We were sharing watermelons at the river, blackberries, eating together khinkali (special dumplings filled with spiced meat – about them in next post!). We could ride horses together, meet a small wolf (!) and buffaloes.
And we had so much time without our Hanna on our hands – everybody was so happy to take care about her!