9/6 Today started very interesting as a result of last night. Last night we decided to go back to the pub across the street from our training center. I think we were only on to our second beer when a Georgian man came over and asked us if anyone of us spoke Spanish. I replied saying that I only knew a little and then the conversation was off to a running start. Oddly enough he thought that we were all high school students but I quickly told him that we were English teachers working for the Georgian government. He seemed to be a little more respectful after I said this. After a bit more conversation we said goodbye and he went back to his table. Then, not long after he left another younger Georgian guy came over to talk to us because he wanted to practice his English. We told him we would be happy to talk to him, so he sat down said a few words then we saw something we had never really witnessed before. He and his friend quickly left without saying a word when another guy from our program came in the pub and sat at our table. We have learned from our administrative people that Georgian men can be very strange when there is another guy they do not know with a group of girls. So the younger Georgian men walked away and we were then again left to our group…at least for a little while.
Not too much later I went to the bar to get another beer and the group of older Georgian men called me over to try one of their famous Georgian dumplings. They instructed me to eat it as a true Georgian and not like a tourist. Fist you take a little bit from the doughy outer layer, then you put 2 spoonfuls of this vinegar mixture into the small hole that was created when you took for your first bit. You then tip your head back and drink the vinegar mixture form the dumpling, swallow and proceed to eat the rest of the dumpling with your hands one bit at a time. After I finished my dumpling they said that I had now become a true Georgian woman. I laughed but I can hardly say this is true after the conversation I had later this evening.
We were kicked out of the bar at closing time at midnight and proceeded to walk back across (what I consider the most dangerous road in the world) to the front steps of our training center. Here we continued in conversation which later turned into a life changing conversation for me. I don’t want to use their real name so I will just call her Jane. Jane is Georgian and is one of our administrators here in Georgian and has one of the most interesting stories I have ever heard. She thinks very differently about Georgian politics, economics, and gender roles than anyone else in her family and has lost very special things in her life because of her opinions. She has such high hopes for this country and believes that the people here can change and that one day things will be different but that it will take much longer than just a few years. Jane encouraged those of us who were speaking with her to try to make changes in the attitudes of the Georgian people around us during our time here and share some aspects of our culture with those people as well. Some of what Jane would like us to share is our attitudes towards gender roles, internal politics, foreign policy and our work ethic. Jane thinks that especially in these areas Georgian should be more western in their thinking. I don’t want to bore you with more details but I can honestly say that I have never, I mean never met a more positive revolutionary in my life. She has given up so much for what she believes in and it has inspired me to work harder in everything that I do.
Last night we were granted a special excursion to the Gelati which is a monastery 10km northeast of Kutaisi. We were able to observe a short service given every night and time to walk around. The ambiance was amazing but visually, I think everyone wants to go back during the day light hours.