A weekend or two ago, I had the awesome opportunity to attend a community festival in my site mate Amy's village.
Now, first things first: I consider Amy my site mate even though see lives in a village outside of Zaqatala proper. She lives in the region, the region is my site (sort of), ergo, she is my site mate.
Secondly, Amy leaves COSes [link] in a little over a month. AAHHHGGGHHHH. It makes me sad.
Anyway, the village, Danachi, is 99% Avar*, and proudly so. A trip to Danachi is like visiting a foreign country inside a foreign country. The language is vastly different from Azerbaijani, the customs are different - let us talk about Lord of the Dance when it comes to their speedy feet -, and there are more horse-drawn carts than cars.
Unfortunately, I really cannot tell you much more than that. I am still confused as to the exact origins of the Avar. My friend Könül told me yesterday that they (she is part Avar) are Byzantine [link] in origin and migrated to the Dagestani area and then into this area centuries ago. I have no idea what language tree Avar comes from and I am utterly confused as to many of their traditions.
Still, like most of the Zaqatala region, the scenery is breathtaking and the people absolutely wonderful. It definitely is worth a peek, for those who venture this far.
*1% is Amy and she is American.