Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back in Georgia

Yes, I have been gone quite a while. Some of that is due to laziness, and some of it is due to minor technical errors, like the fact that my large laptop broke. Thankfully, I had foreseen this, and so I bought a small netbook and brought it with me in anticipation of this catastrophic technological meltdown. Some may say I'm a psychic, I just call it wise. I just downloaded a free version of something similar to Microsoft Office, and I haven't been happier in a long time. The weather blows, it's still cold, and it rains everyday. It's depressing. But this writing session and the tunes of David Bowie are cheering me up quite a bit. I don't know where to begin, seeing as how I have been gone so long. To begin with, I'm in a new city, and a new region. No more Guria, no more village. I'm in Samegrelo now, in Poti, and it's a hell of a lot better. Things got pretty bad with my last host family in the village. I left strongly disliking them, mostly because my host dad was a close-minded, super traditional, backwards kind of guy. I don't want to dwell on the horrible things that have happened in the past, but here's a few of the things that were just the last straw:
  1. He imposed a 7 o'clock curfew on me
  2. He didn't like my boyfriend (more on this later)
  3. The family fed me the most crap food
  4. I felt extremely uncomfortable and unwelcome all the time

I'm sad to say that group # 23 has lost several members. Goodbye Aussie Adam, New Zealanders Jacob, Anna, and Eric; Melissa, Greg, and the Oracle of Tskaltsminda Collette! Here's a wrap up of the remainder of 2011 in this crazy land of Georgia:

Borjomi Trip

Most of what I had written about Borjomi was saved on my now deceased laptop. I shouldn't have been lazy and uploaded it while I had the chance, but alas, I didn't, and now I must start again, and the new version will be much condensed and a lot crappier. This was my second time to Borjomi (I've now been three times, but that's getting ahead). I've already described how magical Borjomi is in previous posts, so I won't be redundant. I must say, however, that the magic of Borjomi never fails to appear.

The trip started off with the usual cha cha (yes, I know that is spelled wrong) train ride to Khashuri, a village not far from Borjomi. Nathan and I arrived in this large village at around 4 in the morning, and, seeing as it was snowing and bitterly cold, we continued to drink cha cha until we scored a taxi ride into Borjomi. Once in town, and out of the taxi,we were greeted with falling clusters of white fluffy clusters of frozen rain. It was like a scene from a movie. It was that picturesque. We set about to search for a place to lay our heads, and rescue us from the chilly temperatures. Also, we were really drunk, and tired, and wanted to change out of our clothes which were dripping wet with snow juice. Borjomi was deserted, which was to expected at 5 in the morning. This ain't no Vegas. With this task, we encountered great difficulty, most likely because we were drunk, tired, and covered in snow juice. Like an angel fallen from heaven to direct our wayward souls, we spotted a man: an elderly man cleaning the street. The lone soul in this city with a ghost town that comes out at night. We approached this angel is disguise and asked him if he could lead us to a hotel. The 'we' really shouldn't be there, because it was Nathan who did all the talking, in his superb Russian. The veiled angel led us the Hotel Victoria, and we had to wake up the proprietor to be let in. She didn't seem too happy to be woken up at such a hour, but she let us in anyway and gave us a warm room.

The next day, before we were met by other fellow TLG'ers, Nathan and I decided to go romping about in the national park, which was covered in snow. This was a horrible idea for me, seeing as I had come to Georgia completely ill prepared for frigid conditions. I had boat shoes on, which one would think would be waterproof, but they weren't, and so I walked about with fears that I would have to go the hospital to get my frozen toes amputated. I showed Nathan an old abandoned church that Caitlin and I had stumbled upon during our last visit. As we were leaving, and trying to continue on with our walk about the woods, we ran into a group of Georgians who were paying homage to a deceased family member in the nearby cemetery. They invited us along, where we welcomed to an impromptu supra and, of course, more cha cha. I have to admit, the cha cha was a Godsend, especially for me. It made what was left of my short rumpus in the woods bearable. I hate to say that I didn't last long, and continued back into town by myself, dreading walking back through the snow. As luck would have it, I was picked up by a park ranger, who gave me a lift all they way back to the hotel free of charge. Somewhere between driving through the park and heading into town, the ranger stopped to take a leak. At first, I thought he had stopped the car because there was something amidst. There was nothing wrong with the car, he just had to piss, and he did so right in front of the truck. This was on a hill, on an icy road, with a truck without snow tires and no e-brake on.

Borjomi park. And snow.

Later that afternoon, we were met by Mark, Jacob, Rob, Caitlin, Adam, James, Cass, and maybe a few other TLG'ers who I have forgotten. Sorry. We needed to find a new place to stay, because Hotel Victoria was too expensive to swing for a second night. I had my Brandt travel guide for Georgia, and managed to find some home stays within the area. The first home stay owners we approached informed us that they were no longer in the business of lodging travelers, but they directed us to a friends house who had several extra rooms and who would take us in. This is where we met Meekho (also spelled wrong, no doubt). Meekho introduced us to his wife, who he described as a “gestapo,” and offered us some wine and presented me with a miniature pumpkin. Meekho also invited us to a supra at his house that night, which only Cass, James, and I attended. He turned out to be quite the creeper that night, but luckily Nathan got him to leave us alone by telling him that we needed toilet paper, which he promptly addressed and left to go the market. This seemingly simple task took him quite a bit, and we later learned that his wife gave him a ton of shit for leaving and misinforming her as to his whereabouts. Hence the name gestapo.

We didn't do much in Borjomi, but we did get to check out, if only briefly, the ski resort town of Bakuriani, which was not far from town. Our marshutka driver for this expedition was a horrible driver, and insisted on driving on the wrong side of the road for most of the way up the twisting and turning snow laden road towards the peak of the mountain. Maybe he learned to drive in England? Owing to his misplaced sense of which side of the road to drive on, it's not surprising that we got into a wreck with another car coming down the mountain. As James would later say, this was, hands down, the most entertaining car crash I have ever been. I don't know if they have insurance here, for the drivers of each vehicle spent a great deal of time cussing at each other and trying to decide whose fault it was and who would pay for the damage. This conversation lasted awhile, and we amused ourselves by building snowmen and doing other activities winter wonderland related.

building a snowman

the wreck

The real clincher is our last night. James, Nathan, and myself took a marshutka back to Khashuri to catch the night train. There's not really much to do in this large village, especially when you arrive at 9 pm, and your train doesn't leave until midnight. We set out to find a cafe, which was hidden and had no sign, like most Georgian eatery establishments. We ordered some drinks, and noticed a rowdy group of Georgian men sitting at a table besides us. James made a comment that would come to be realized later on. “I bet they're going to invite us to come drink with them soon.” Not 30 minutes after he made this comment, we were motioned to join their table and the drinking commenced. I don't remember any of their names, except a man in his 20's, Vano, who would later acquire my number and call relentlessly until he finally gave up. They invited us to their house, and, since we had nothing else to do, we went. We were driven back to their home, while it was snowing, and, after 5 minutes in the car, one of the guys got out and started to dance in the middle of the street. This prompted all of us to exit the car and begin to drunkenly dance to Russian techno in the middle of the street, while it was snowing. Later on, we had an impromptu snow fight before it was time to get back into the car and head to our original destination. When we finally arrived to their home, they woke their dad up, who is the baker at the local school, and had him cook us some really delicious lobiani and fresh bread. Can yo even imagine what would happen if some drunken early 20 somethings woke up their parents to cook food for a group of drunken foreigners? That would be unacceptable. When we had finished eating, we were driven back to the train station and given a parting gift of several beers, despite the fact that we were already very drunk. My last memory of that evening was the following: our train was boarding, and we all started running to catch it. I was the last one to jump on board and Vano was tailing me. He caught up with me before I managed to land in the safety of the moving choo choo, but not before he planted a kiss on me. This is how I will remember Khashuri---random-in the street-car-techno-parties and unwelcome kisses.

Memorable Quotes/ Moments with my dear TLG'ers from 2011

  • I'm doing a Christmas play with my students. The climax is Jingle Bells. (Collette, A.K.A. The Oracle at Tskaltsminda).
  • James met a Georgian girl, around 16, who loves Hitler. She even has his baby picture as her facebook profile pic. Why does she love Hitler? Because he was an amazing painter.
  • Rob and I got drunk, and we talked about metamorphosis. It was amazing. (Caitlin, on how she spent her weekend).
  • We made bets on who would come back with a Georgian baby. My vote was for Simon, to which he replied, “I can't make a baby Ren. I am a man.” Me: “Obviously, but I met you can make one hell of a good baby!” Simon: “Yes, maybe so.”
  • Me: “All McDonald’s in other countries charge extra for ketchup. Imagine if they tried to pull that shit in the States! There would be riots!”
    Greg: “Murders!”
    Simon: “You Americans don't riot because of the economy, but you would riot if McDonald’s charged extra for ketchup?
    Greg and I simultaneously: “YES!”
  • “My dreams get crazy when I have a cheeseburger at midnight!” (Greg)
  • “My 14 year old fat neighbor can cut firewood really well. He doesn't know any English, save for fuck you, so that's all he says...all the time. Also, have you noticed that the 80 year old Bebias here can hardly walk but they can cut firewood better than we can?” (Simon, on firewood).
  • “There was a small dog at my school, who would always linger, looking for food. One day, I fed him. A few days later, I noticed the dog had not been around, and so I asked my students what happened to him. Apparently, there was a larger dog that came around, and ate the small dog. Then the large dog bit someone and so he was shot. It really wasn't worth it to eat that small dog. It's actually quite sad.” (Simon, again).
  • “We were playing folklore one day...if you want to mess with vampires, sprinkle a bunch of sunflower seeds on the graves of those who you think are undead. When the vampire wakes up, they will have to count all of these seeds, because everybody knows vampires love arithmetic.”
  • During our last weekend in Ozurgeti, Nathan and I had some pretty deep conversations. This conversation, which consisted on philosophical musings concerning several subjects, was intermittently interrupted by Caitlin and Greg. It was as if we were in a comical play, which Nathan compared with Waiting for Gaudet, a play in which the cast of characters are constantly coming in and out, performing all sorts of random acts. To begin with, there was Caitlin, who kept yelling for me to bring her toilet paper while she was in the Turkish toilet outhouse. Then there was Caitlin’s host brother, who kept approaching me and asking me to dance with him. Lastly, there was Greg, who was wondering about in the dark, cold, night with his shirt off, throwing up.

1 comment:

  1. I have heard four versions of the mystical time in Borjomi...your voice Ren...it gives it sparkle...XXX