21 Jan 2022

Akhalsitkhe, 20 of January, 2022

A quick search on the vocabulary refreshes the meaning of the word remote. It means to move backwards: to be far: loneliness.

Javakheti, standing to this meaning, remains a remote place.

Inhabited by mostly Armenian Descendants since the 5th century BC, and a minority of Javaks of Georgian origin, the region it is now enclosed in the Republic of Georgia in southern Caucasus between Turkey to the west and Armenia to the south.

Javakheti stands stills at 2000 meters above sea level, it surrounds the ancient Paravani Lake.

The latest legend narrates that Saint Nino, after her pilgrimage in Armenia, set foot in this land in the 4th century AD from here she followed the Kura River until she reached Mtskheta where the process of Christianization of the country began.

Russian remains the lingua franca, followed by Armenian, although communication is possible in Georgian specially in the bigger cities: Akhalsitkhe, Akhalkalaki, Vardzia.


Javakheti would have been the natural door to Kurdistan, and although the border is open from the Georgian side towards Kars what lies ahead is a cemetery of Armenian towns: a sad and fresh reminder of the genocide.

\ It is very cold in Javakheti, also during the summers.

\ On winter the lake is frozen and everything around transforms into a palette of whites without time.

Everything feels so lonely and lonesome in this lands; also the blow of the wind.

During orthodox Epiphany, on the 19 of January, some take three deep dips in the cold waters of the lake to commemorate the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River, and to celebrate the transformation of God into man as its image is revealed to the eyes of the Three Magi.

To forget the cold, and to continue the festivities, the monasteries organize a supra: in our case the long tables were covered in plastic glasses and dishes and forks and knives all surrounded by simple yet rich meals: bread, cheese, roasted chickens, boiled meat, fried fish, chicken salad.

Wine is omnipresent, also Fanta and mineral water.

Toast to good health, to good wishes, to good deeds, are a constant remix of voices and laughs that defy the desolation.

Javakheti feels far away: little to none transport options, little to none amenities besides the ruins of the castles scattered on the side of the roads, the miniscule cemeteries, the ancient monasteries, the open spaces along the mountain peaks, the laundry lines covered in frozen clothes, the overwhelming sense of time that has not yet fully devoured the memory of this plateau.

The moon rises slow in Javakheti, it is also remote and lonely: full.

Javakheti feels desolated: a high contrast between the rest of the regions of Georgia.

Javakheti is mostly silent: is silence: is a corner of silent misery.

Javakheti is deeply poor: potatoes are the main product of its soil.

This potatoes are well known in Tbilisi, they constitute the center of socioeconomical dynamics anchored to the barter system: merchants from Tbilisi come here with their trucks full of clothes, toys, books, small appliances, kitchenware, soaps, perfumes, novelties: everything is exchanged to its equivalent in kilos of potatoes calculated to its market price.

Javakheti is a constant assonance, and foxes are abundant.

##javakheti #georgia