Photographs of Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, and other pale, beautiful women cover the walls of the shack under a layer of dirt. Among them, the proud gaze of Stalin stands out. “Without him we would all be Germans,” says Pore Foretilidize, pouring me another glass of chacha. “Drink, Mussolini!” the 80-year-old commands. He likes to call me that because of my Italian origins.
Foretilidize lives in one of the steep valleys of Tusheti, a region of Georgia that borders Russia along the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Every year, at the end of summer and before the first snowfall, he makes the journey to the warm plains of Vashlovani with his flock of sheep.
Around the same time, Azerbaijani shepherds depart their summer pastures in Kvemo Kartli in the southeast of Georgia, while Georgian Chechen shepherds of the Kist ethnic group leave their homes in the Pankisi Gorge. They are all headed in the same direction. For a few months, Vashlovani becomes a multicultural haven for shepherds.