The Hands of Khiza
Intent has always been the heart of the Duende creation and experience. From camping on the land for a year before imagining what this project may become to working hand in hand with the local village, we choose everyday to embody love + commUNITY for what we do and in how we serve all.
Leaving our families and cultures behind to embrace the Georgian way has often been a confusing and challenging road. Like nature, our relationship with this land has gone through many cycles, judgements, limiting beliefs, and healing.
First, it was love at first sight. We were charmed by the trees, the hospitality, and the food. Then, like many new relationships the honeymoon cycle wears thin and the real work begins to emerge. Over the following seven years we have consistently shown up and cultivated an honest relationship with the community and the forest that surrounds Duende.
The men of Khiza village are a force to be reckoned with. Not only in the extra commitment that they give to Duende, but the commitment they give to their role in the community + nature. It was during the Covid Pandemic we saw who these men truly are and they saw who we truly are.
It was the first time that we did not “dress up” for each other’s arrival and shared time. It was the first time we were living in Khiza full time, 24 hours a day, and in our own full humility. It was the first time we truly connected with the Khiza community and the nature of the forest.
We came home to our hearts
In the Spring, we witnessed the men emerge from the warmth of their houses, well rested, to plow and prepare the land for the families food production for the next year. They, also, took the time to plow a piece of land for us – while we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable throughout the learning process of farming. Farming in not a one module kind of course. We managed to produce 15% of what the crop was able to.
Throughout the summer months, they transitioned into a smaller labor load and gave themselves permission to be playful with their friends, with cold beer, and with dipping in the freshness of the Ninoskhevi River. They invited us to play, while in parallel serving their time at Duende.
Fall creeped in and as the leaves began to change as did the labor needs of these men. Every morning for eight weeks they joined together to forage the fallen trees from the Lagodekhi National Park. Using local horses, they drag full dead trees out of the forest to be chopped and prepared for their families’ warmth during the winter months. They went the extra mile and brought us two trees as well.
The physical labor they endure is remarkable.
Finally, winter arrives and like bears they enjoy a bit of rest. They eat the preserved naturally grown rations of summer with fresh bread as they stare aimlessly at the blaring tv sets. They gather together to work on creative projects like making chacha or building a new bathroom with a flushing toilet. Continuing the community suit, they encourage us to join them in celebrating the simplicity of life, birthdays, and holidays..
Over the past eight months, we have had the opportunity to reflect on the beliefs we had about our commitment to this community of men (and women). We became aware of the judgments we carried about them. That awareness brought us full circle to see who they truly are.
They are not only the hands of Khiza, but the hearts of the men who we give a deep bow to. We are so very grateful for their hands over the past eight years. We recognize what a gift they are in our life and our development towards reconnecting with nature. Though we knew there was a constant exchange of knowledge and skills, we now are able to recognize their hands and hearts know something very profoundly intimate to living and nature that is priceless. Thank you Khiza for all your goodness.