H2Ohhh: Etseri, Svaneti


Well, here we go again.

Been looking for a water works repair person for quite a while now, ever since the frost stopped. We began with a local fellow who has done such work and more for us at home; but it’s not a great time for him, potato planting being in full swing. No-one else in the village whom we can trust to do the work to guest house standards and not show up drunk! Asking neighbors produced similar results; one was even dissatisfied with the trio he’d had in for his own plumbing, as well as us being of a similar mind for what they did here.

The problem has been water leaking down from upstairs to the ground floor when people shower; obviously not something to allow to continue! We’ve been down to 1 bathroom fully functioning, plus a toilet/sink up stairs and the outhouse. Not the best… We added Mestia friends to our appeal for help, and eventually something turned up there. We’ve driven a pair of guys in to look around, accept the job, write up a hefty shopping list, and then one of them to accompany me to the massive Gorgia shop in Rukhi, just outside Zugdidi. Best selection, best prices in the whole region, plus guarantees!

Of course, we had a few adventures on the way. Stopping at a café for lunch, we ordered ojakhuri, which in his books and mine can only mean pork & potatoes fried with onions. Instead, beef stew came—delicious, yes, but no apology for its being a replacement for what they failed to tell us isn’t available. Then he fetched an ashtray and lit up. I was fine with this, but the waitress pointed out the No Smoking sign at our table and suggested a 1000 GEL fine. When my ordered coffee failed to materialize, I offered the same fine, so she apologized profusely and announced her expectation that the drink would be entirely worth the wait, all fines cancelled on both sides. The java was certainly up to snuff for such a place, quite drinkable, and we left satisfied if a bit mystified into the bargain.

I had bought 10-month-old chicks to bolster our future egg production, but these weren’t doing well in the heat, despite best efforts. So my workman suggested a swing by his village home outside Zugdidi to give them a breather and some food and water, after which, in a new, better-aerated box, they were fine.

During the recovery wait, he took me to the end of his road, where the descendent of Prince Murat, Alain Murat, is restoring the family’s old home. He had been about to take a dip in a swimming pool he’s set up, so was in shorts, and very down to earth. His great-grandfather had served with Napoleon, and the Great Man’s portraits were in every room. This place has to be seen: Prince Alain’s wife, whose hand has produced wonders of decoration and whimsy, will also wait for a future article, as she was away. First prince I’ve ever met, comfortable in English and Georgian as well as his native French. More to come on this theme soon.

The workers will arrive tomorrow, still reasonably early in the tourist season for us that there aren’t a lot of guests at the moment, and should finish in a few days. We’re also disconnecting from the 1000-liter water tank, and improving things in the garage, to where the water runs before entering the house. And then… everything will be fine for everyone, and we will relax. We HOPE, this time, after long and bitter experiences otherwise.

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/

He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:


By Tony Hanmer

30 May 2019 20:56