Finding Vitali – A Friendship Begins
We were waiting in the city center of Pitsunda looking for a way to get back to our little village, up until this point we had tried to find an inexpensive taxi willing to take us, we had no such luck. Then we found Vitali, he agreed to take us back to Agaraki. This all took place with my wife’s Russian skills, had I tried I would have gotten stuck at “Hello”, my Russian is poor. But he didn’t know this.
We all piled into his van and he began slowly meandering his way back to our destination. Right away I understood that he wanted to have a conversation. I was on the spot, I had to respond. Usually my wife intercedes for me but my hero was silent. What to do? So, boldly I told him with my terrible abilities, “I don’t understand, I speak little Russian”, he looked at me a bit surprised. Again, he spoke to me. Where are you from? I understood! I told him I was American. His eyes lit up, Oh he said, then with the aid of my wife who finally spoke became my interpreter. The conversation continued the entire journey home. It was at the end of our speaking together that we were invited to his home. I was ecstatic, this was something I’d been praying would happen. We were going to get to spend an evening with him and his family (I thought I was dreaming).
The day came that he arrived to pick us up to go to his home, couldn’t tell you how excited I was. We traveled north towards his home again conversing as we had before, it was great. He had told us he lived a bit up in the hills were it was quiet but I had no idea what it was really going to be like. Then we rounded the corner winding up the hills and I looked out to the sea, it was stunning, it wasn’t just the sea, it was the river, the mountains, the sunset. I begged him to stop, I wanted to get a photograph. He boldly said, wait a minute. I’m thinking to myself this was a once in a lifetime view am I going to miss it? Absolutely not, he made a hard right turn maybe 50 feet down the road, we were in his driveway. His property was right in the middle of this million dollar view. I was shocked, but very pleased.
We then got to meet his wife, I’ve got to be honest I don’t remember her name. I was to busy soaking up the beauty of our surroundings. I suspect my wife was as well, she couldn’t recall her name either. We then got the royal tour of their property. We were lead through maze of trees and garden that went on forever, it was astounding. We got to find out that they are able to grow 12 different varieties of trees on their land from Apple, Mandarin, Cherry, and Pomegranate trees , and others that I’ve never seen before, these people are truly blessed.
After traveling all through their paradise we arrived at their patio were we then proceeded to dine with them. She along with her husband brought all kinds of Abkhaz dishes out for us to indulge in, we got to try fresh homemade cheeses, tomatoes from their garden, wine from their vineyard, and the list goes on. We talked about family, we talked about friendship, and we formed one as well. One thing that he did share sticks out in my mind. It’s an ancient legend which I came to understand many Abkhaz people love to share. It goes like this.
They say that, when God had created the earth, He allocated each tribe its ethnic homeland, according to the number of its people and the services they had rendered Him.
The Abkhazian leader was the last to make an appearance and God asked, “Where were you when I was handing out the countries? I’ve got nothing left for you.” The Abkhazian replied, “We had guests at our house, Lord, and we couldn’t leave them without showing proper hospitality.”
As a reward for such generosity of spirit, God gave the Abkhazians the lands that he had set aside for himself.
It’s very easy to see why, we now have dear friends in Abkhazia, I hope if you plan to make the journey to this wonderful country that you get to do the same. I will leave you with a video that I found on Vimeo. It will give you a small idea what you will find in this very hospitable place called “Abkhazia.