Villages disappear every day, but are we sure that this is evolution and not to the end of the world.
Valera and Maro have lived in Svaneti village in Georgia all of their lives. It’s not easy to find them, there is no sign on the road, and there is also no road so to speak. From November till May the family is cut off from the «big land». The last neighbour, Valera’s brother, left the village a year ago. Valera bought the land from everyone who has left. Now the couple of pensioners have 40 ha. of land, 40 head of livestock and a big house to take care of. But it wasn’t always like this. Maro used to work as a teacher and Valera is a true fairy tale bogatyr.
Two of them have three children and several grandchildren. Everyone persuades them to leave the house. But they say that someone must stay to watch after the graves of their ancestors. And so they stay.
View from the window of the house. The village is located at an altitude of 1550 above sea level
At last the spring mist cleared and the sun came out. Valera is shaving outside. There is no running water in the house, Valera himself made water from the mountain spring go through house, so in the kitchen you can enjoy dishwashing with freezing mountain water
The couple divides all household duties in two. Maro is in charge or the house and garden, cooking and cleaning, milking cows in the morning and in the evening. Every day she makes fresh cheese and suluguni
The village is surrounded by mountains from all sides. It is located near the border with Kabardino-Balkaria, but the pass through is closed. Back in USSR tourists came here on foot and often slept in tents outside the night. Sometimes Valera meets young travelers on his land, he always invites them to the house and is very upset if they refuse. Then he would bring them home-made cheese, bread, wine and vodka
Old family Orthodox Church in front of the house of Valera and Maro
Valera takes over the role of local priest and on holidays it is he who reads prayers and leads short services
The main reason why Valera and Maro cannot leave the village is that they do not want to abandon their ancestors’ graves
It is customary in Georgia to celebrate some holidays at the cemetery, set the table and feast with the deceased
Young Maro (on the right)
In winter, you can get out from the village only on horseback or on very wide skis, in which Valera shows off
Today the eldest son George is coming home to visit. Valera holds binoculars in his hands. Maro found a perfect box to fill with cheese, meat, eggs and sweets for grandchildren
The work does not end until sunset. Valera brings food to the sheep, which spend the night in one of the sheds. Almost all the abandoned houses were destroyed by snow during the winter
Maro fell asleep knitting sweater from the wool of own sheep