I met Amiran Nachkebia last December. My wife and I were looking for some herdsmen in western Georgia, who make sulguni, a traditional mozarella kind of cheese. We heard that there was an old man who’s been living in a cabin by the river and making the cheese for the whole his life. Obviously we couldn’t miss an opportunity to meet such a character.
Amiran truly was a character. He started herding cattle in his teen years. In his mid 30s he decided to permanently move to his herdsman cabine, even though back in his village he had a house, a wife and a few children. Since then, for the last 50 years, he’s been living there, occasionally visiting his home or being visited by his wife. Now he’s widowed, but his grandchildren, some of them cattle herders as well, continue visiting him in his hut.
Presently, Nachkebia keeps only three cows and a garden patch, where he grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and greens. He doesn’t sell them, saying that they are “meant only for guests.” For us, that is. When we arrived, he set the table, made quick lunch, and rolled out a bottle of a stinky fruit vodka. Leaving without eating and drinking was not an option, he just wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. And we stayed. And stayed. And stayed.
In between of vodka shots, taking pictures of Amiran, and munching on his cooking I was thinking how a man can live a life like this, in a little cabin, outside of any settlement, apart from even his own family. But mind you, Amiran didn’t look anything like an introvert. Quite the opposite: he seemed to be happy with anyone visiting him. And guests do come in abundance. Herdsmen, locals from the villages nearby drop by his cabin on the regular basis, and Amiran always has some veggies, sausages, and a bottle of vodka to treat them with. At his age of 86 he looks healthy, agile, and swift-minded. But more than that, he looks quite happy.
P.S. Also, you can read Negin’s thoughts about this trip.