Bits & Pieces: Etseri, Svaneti

And now the News.

As I have remarked recently on my personal Facebook page, May was the first month in over six years of both TLG volunteer teaching and writing for Georgia Today that my salary from the latter surpassed that from the former, which is 500 GEL/month. As my heart is much more in the writing than the teaching, this is good news for me as an indication of a career change! And as I already bowed out from TLG last September and wrote a farewell article, I’ll not repeat that. Meanwhile, my writing, usually accompanied by photographs, looks to be taking over as main earner for me, a prospect which I find thrilling. The words don’t stop, neither do the images, so I’ll give them free rein. The photo sums up this change in my life.

Yesterday, a former mayor of our village and several other people parked some cars on the road outside our house and appeared to be having discussions about the land above us. I observed this from my position in the barn, in which I have begun a major cleaning operation, on which more later. They walked through our land and back again, greeted me, and moved on.

My wife heard the news this morning that Mr Toyota for Georgia, who is from our village and has built himself a new house here and the community a new church, is gathering investors for a ski resort project up there. A similar rumor was responsible for the doubling of our house price while we were considering it about six years ago, with President Saakashvili heading the experts’ and investors’ group that time. They left with a negative answer; the house price dropped considerably; and we bought.

Since then I saw the President for the second time, and was able to ask him face to face if there was still anything in the cards skiing-wise for Etseri. He said yes, there certainly was, and he would see it done. Then he was forced out of his position democratically, left the country, and has not returned since. So, this new stage is intriguing, and we can only hope. It will bring huge change to the village, including the necessity of a great many more people learning English!

Also, as the school years ends, I have had the opportunity to look over several higher-grade school students’ shoulders as they did online mock English exams in preparation for the real one. The amount of mistakes in the questions themselves was distressing to me. A 65-question paper copy of one of these mock exams gave up fully 13, or 20%, mistakes in the questions. This prompted me to email the Minister of Science and Education with my findings, and I am now waiting for a response. How can anyone trust that English exam results are real and true with so many mistakes in the exams themselves!

As for the barn… It’s time for the occasion, once every several years, to pry up the floorboards, now squelching over a full accumulation of cow manure runoff. Every morning I scrape and shovel up what is on top, and remove it via the little “glory hole” in the barn wall, to build up and eventually be spread on the field. But this underneath stuff only needs attention when the space it occupies is quite full and the animals’ liquid waste has nowhere to run away out of the barn, sorry to be so graphic. That’s what I was occupied with when the investors’ group came by, so I was in no position smell-wise to meet and greet in a formal manner. But the news reached me anyway. And now, for this too, we wait with bated breath for a positive result.

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 1500 members, at

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

Tony Hanmer

15 June 2017 19:50