Fiew words about savoir - vivre
Agro-tourist kistynian hosts, living in Pankisi valley are in majority Sunni Muslims and they cultivate rather traditional small community model of life.
We write about this, not to underline the oriental character of local villages, but in order to remind, that you will stay in houses of hosts who are representatives of different religion. We are far from conceited mentor's attitude, giving travelers "wise” advice. By writing these words we think more of simply remembering about some basic matters related to traveling to distant places and spending time among representatives of different cultures.
In Moslem societies, in social life there is a visible division between men's world and women’s world. This concerns both usual everyday activity and interpersonal contacts. That’s why, it is better, while traveling with boyfriend/ girlfriend of fiancée/ fiancé to try to behave rather discreetly and not to show your feelings in front of others.
Kists are very hospitable and friendly people. We will be treated with local dishes and drinks right after entering the house. It is proper to seize this opportunity. It is then a good the moment for closer acquaintance, conversation, but also tasting of different style of life in which feasting and the raising the numerous toasts takes an important part. Kists despite being Moslems, drink wine as Georgians do. Only men called mullahs and ones who are regularly practicing Islam are exceptions. Majority of the Kists still grows grape-vine, produces their own wine and treats guests with it.
And here attention number one: we should be prepared, that our table companions will ask us for a speech before drinking the next glass of wine. The more the toast will be more rich, ornate, and obviously sincere, the more our hosts will be satisfied. Hospitable atmosphere has his negative results also, associated with overdosing of local food and liquor. Refusing, which is not simple at all, we have to be careful, in order not to offend our hosts.
Since we are already speaking of things associated with subject of food, we sould mention it’s inevitable consequence - a needed of using a toilet. They are almost always privies situated out side, near the living quarters.
Going out from the house, in sweltering day, let's remember, that the majority of residents of village are Moslems. For that reason it is better not show to meny naked parts of our body, which doesn’t mean, that we should ostentatiously wear heavy and dark clothes. A bit of intuition and perceptiveness will be needed here in order to notice, what clothes are going to be treated by locals as suitable. When going to a mosque, women should wear a scarf, long skirt or trousers, and men long trousers. When going somewhere as guests, we also should wear in clean shirt rather than threadbare T-shirt, despite, that we are in “touristic” mode.
Walking through a village, the best way of making new friends is simply to smile and knowledge of basic words. Using expressions in Georgian or Kistinian we can count on friendly reactions and be can be almost sure locals will begin a nice chat.
One general and the most important information – while spending time in Pankisi we should simply behave normally.
Typical practical information
In present moment citizens of Poland as well as other citizens of European Union don;t need a visa to Georgia when stating for a period not longer than 3 months.
In Georgia (in Pankisi) Georgian currency is "lari” and "tetri”. 1 equals lari 100 tetri.
Average course on 21.11.2007 r.:
Traveling to Pankisi, it is good earlier to purchase health and accident insurance in Poland. The closest hospital is in Achmeta. In case of an emergency surely will not be left alone, our hosts will take us to the closest clinic. It is good to remember, that the state of medical service in Georgia leaves a lot to be desired, except fief private clinics.
The closest drugstore is in one of the villages in Pankisi, in D¿oko³o.
While on the territory of willages in Pankisi ravine we can use communication infrastructure like cellular telephones or internet which is accessible in community center in the Duisi village.
We should however remember, that going in to the mountains, we will be beyond the area of cellular telephony range, and we will catch range on mountain peaks only.
Cellular connections in Georgia, in case, when we have Polish sim card are rather very expensive. While in Georgia it is cheaper to buy Georgian telephone card and to use it on terrain of Georgia.
Clothes and basic equipment
We will need basic tourist equipment on departure: rain coat, warm jacket (cool mornings and evenings in the mountains), comfortable shoes, sun cap, first-aid kit (especially medicines for stomach – stomachache drops, carbon), creams with sun filter, torch (blackouts happen in Pankisi, beside that there is no electric lighting in shepherd's shelters in the mountains)
If planning hikes in the mountains, it’s good to take a sleeping-bag, foam mattress and a tent - if we do not want to spend the night in the shelter or shepherd's hut.
There are groceries in all the Pankisi ravine villages. In Duisi (central village) there are chemist shops, clothes shop and barber/ hairdresser, and also home gas stations (petrol is as expensive as in Poland and rather poor quality, it is better to provide your car in petrol in Tbilisi before arrival to Pankisi)
Prices of food and services in Tbilisi are similar to the ones in Pankisi. Being in Pankisi, our kistynian hosts rather won’t let us to buy any food from a store, which they grow themselves on their farms.
For general orientation can write, that the prices of food in whole Georgia do not differ from prices in Poland. In summer and autumn only fruits are cheaper in Georgia. Eating in restaurants and bars in Georgia is cheaper, but not much. There is no such facilities in Pankisi yet. Kist hosts are responsible for our meals.