By the time the train crawls into the village station, Konstantine Ergemlidze is tired and sleepy; his six-hour journey is, indeed, a draining daily commute. Starting in the 1950s, the elektrichka -- a slow, yet cheap commuter train to rural areas -- used to go all the way from Tbilisi to Tskhinvali, the main town in South Ossetia. But since the 1991-1992 conflict, the administrative boundary line has become an insurmountable barrier and Nikozi, barely 3.3 kilometers from Tskhinvali, is now the train’s last stop.
The train cars slowly move down the track, covering the 114 kilometers between the village and Georgian capital in three hours. Every day, the 67-year-old joins other farmers in Nikozi and travels to the capital to sell his apples. He leaves at dawn and returns well after sunset.
His apples and the three-hour trip each way are his life; the elektrichka his second home.