Villages of the Hopeless
I learned about healing water Dzuguri first several days ago. Having searched information, we learned that Dzuguri water is sold near the chain bridge in Kutaisi. Our trip started from that bridge. It was difficult to get to Dzuguri village from Kutaisi so we took roundabout via Tskaltubo. Traveling there we happened to visit Orbeli village in Tsageri municipality, which is located 600 meters above the sea.
The road to Orbeli village is renovated. Fire-wood is stored in front of almost every house in the village – people are preparing for winter.
In the mountainous village Orbeli you feel several-years in the past because people there live in the situation of 1990s. Youth and old people are standing under the sun in the gloomy village center; they are watching visitors with interest. The only trading center in the village is a rusty booth where locals can buy necessary products.
We asked locals about Dzuguri water but they said we could only reach the place by off-road vehicle. So we found a driver and guide Gia who took us from Orbeli to Dzuguri.
Resort Dzuguri is 28 kilometers away from the municipality center and is located 1140 meters above the sea.
We took a hardly-detectable road across forest and river bed; the driver said the road was constructed during communist time. In the past the resort had many visitors and they stayed in cottages. Old “happy” time has passed, wooden cottages ruined, iron pillars for electricity transition got rusted and bended. Everything looks like in the Steven King’s “Desperation.”
We met foresters on our way; they were drinking vodka after hard work. Our driver said the village has never been supplied with gas and they use fire-wood in winter; that means they do not preserve forest for next generations.
43-years-old, hard-working and energetic Gia told us about his life. He lives together with his wife and children. His 75-years-old father has cancer, received social allowance but now it was stopped. Gia earns his living from transporting people. Sometimes he travels 3-4 times along this difficult road every day. His passengers either go to Dzuguri water or to Lashitchala water. Gia is talkative person and has his opinion about everything.
We are so impressed and excited with the beauty of the nature and asked Gia to stop car. I told him he was happy for living in such a nature… he smiled at me and said – I am fed up with this beautiful nature. Then he looked at yellow-red-green-brown mountains and admitted, yes it is really beautiful. Apparently he had not looked at the mountains for a long time because generally he is looking down and thinking about the problems in Orbeli.
According to 2002 census 1044 persons live in the Orbeli village. Gia said main problem in their village is unemployment. High electricity price is second on the problem list. He said the village is permanently flooded because of Lajanurhess, majority of population has cancer because of high dampness. “Instead supplying the village with electricity for free, they increased price up to 17 tetri,” the guide said.
The village has outpatients, school and kindergarten. Majority of population is socially indigent. Gia said that socially indigent but healthy people prefer to sit at home and live on the allowance. “They spend all days in the street but are better dressed than I am. I work hard all day long. Social allowances stimulated laziness among people. Nobody wants to work. We fund these lazy people from our salaries. It is better to give medical insurance to everybody. Social program for indigent population must be stopped or reviewed,” our guide said.
There is neither internet nor library in the village; locals do not have any other place to go for entertainment.
“Nobody takes care of Orbeli village. Nino Burjanadze twice chaired Parliament of Georgia and was twice interim president but never paid attention to our village. She even denies that originally she is from Orbeli village and claims she is from Imereti region. Neither Nino Burjanadze’s father cares about the village too much; he promised to build church in the village but did not keep promise. Their house was several times robbed in the village and that’s why they forgot about Orbeli,” Gia said driving up to the mountains of Dzuguri water.
There is sour water spring in the Dzuguri resort, which cures many diseases. Among them is diabetes though in the first stage. So-called bottomless lake is located three kilometers away from the resort. Not many people have heard about this water so far. A Jewish businessman took Dzuguri water to Tbilisi and started baking bread with this water. This bread contains zero glucose and it is sold as diabetic bread. Gia said soon businessmen plan to bottle this water and everybody will learn about it.
Dzuguri water is fizzy and sour. The river nearby is rusty because of high consistence of iron in it.
Our guide informed us that Dzuguri water is distributed in Kutaisi. He said in April, when road got blocked by heavy snow, a man was selling 1 liter of the water for 1 lari and lied to people that it was Dzuguri water.
Similar people damage situation and cause mistrust of people, the driver said. Looking at the mountains he again whispered “how beautiful these mountains are, what a nice colors.”
Somebody called him on the phone and reminded that at 6 pm he has to take passengers to Lashitchala. We left Orbeli with the information about locals’ problems and bottle full of Dzuguri water.
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