We're in beautiful Tbilisi, feasting on Georgian wine and watermelons, relaxing on leafy roof terraces and listening to our new friend Kakha's stories about the wild Caucasus. Kakha is also helping us plan our trip to the Borjomi national park and the Svaneti mountains, a particularly wild region even by Caucasian standards, which, as I just said, are already pretty wild.
"So what are the Svans like?" Dan asked Kakha.
"Blood feuds. Vendetta," Kakha said without missing a beat.
Then he smiled and bit into another slice of watermelon. "But don't worry, they only fight among themselves, and they'll tell you to leave the village before they start. And they are really very kind-hearted."
“Tell them the joke about the Svan diary,” Kakha’s son Giorgi suggested.
“The Svan diary…well, it goes like this. First entry – Monday: Today is very boring. Tuesday: Today I killed my neighbour’s mother. Wednesday: Today, my neighbour came over and killed my mother in revenge. Thursday: Today I killed my neighbour’s father and brother. Friday: Today, my neighbour came over and killed my father…and so on and so forth for the next couple of days, and then – “ Kakha leaned back to deliver the punchline – “Monday: Today is very boring.”
We laughed and had more watermelon and thought about the Svans. They seem to enjoy a near-mythical status in
, with their harsh mountain rites and gloomy-yet-heartfelt hospitality. Georgia
And according to Kakha, once in a generation, this mountain tribe, widely ridiculed for being backward and illiterate, produces an amazing Svan intellectual who comes down from the mountains, takes everyone by surprise, dazzles the cultural elite and becomes the pride of