Friday, October 22, 2010

Georgian TV

                Whoever thought that I would find myself watching cheesy Mexican soap operas in Georgia?  Certainly not I.  They don’t get any less cheesy here then they are in the states either.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I could actually watch them and hear what’s going on because that way I could practice my Spanish but…they are dubbed over in Georgian.  I can kind of hear the Spanish in the background but not enough to really help.
                The best part is that my eight year old host-brother is crazy about these shows.  He gets so frustrated when my host-sister changes the channel to something interesting like the news.  Even though we watch the news in Georgian I would rather watch that than these soap operas.
                Georgia also dubs cartoons.  I think it would be a great way for my host-brother to hear more English but I guess those channels don’t come in in English. But I’m pretty sure you can get them in Russian and Turkish if you really want.  I just don’t understand how you can watch the same cartoon is 3 different languages but never actually watch it in its originally language, English.  Well actually most of it is probably comes from Japan so really it should be in Japanese.

you know you're in Georgia when

                You know when you are in Georgia when you are being lead by your school principal into a sketchy looking building to drink wine and eat fruit grown at someone’s house after school. 
                One of the buildings across the street from my school is so sketchy looking and this whole time I had thought that it was abandoned.  Turns out it is the office of the village manager and I’m not sure what else.  As long as we are on the subject of the village manager; he wants to marry me.  Apparently he never thought of himself as the marrying type until he met me.  I think this is somewhat funny because I can’t speak Georgian and he can speak English.  Not that I would marry him if this were not the case but I just can’t understand why he is so confident that he wants to marry me.  It’s really flattering but sometimes it gets a bit awkward.  He has learned how to say “I love you” but that’s about it.  Does a girl really need to hear anything else? Haha just kidding, totally kidding.

no power

This morning I woke up to no power.  This actually happens quite frequently but I’m not sure if I have mentioned it before.  Even the wind can’t kill this beautiful morning.  I wake up with no power almost once a week.  For my house I am lucky because not having power does not mean not having water like in some of the cities.  (Also in the cities you can have power but no water.  Water in the cities is on a cycle and usually comes on for a few hours a day every day.  Then some days the water never comes on.  No one seems to know why the water is off but they also don’t seem to care either.)
I thought that is would bother me more that the power drops out so often but it really does not affect my life too much.  I have just learned to charge my phone, computer, and iPods when we have electricity.  And if I don’t get around to it then I don’t have those things, oh well. 
                My family cooks most of our dishes over a fire or in/on top of this wood burning oven/stove we have in our dining room so the lack or power only affects their ability to see what they are doing.  But this is why there are flash lights, candles, and lanterns in every room of my house.  I am really impressed out it does not affect them that much.  Having always lived in cities when having power is just a given and when the power goes out the whole city shuts down, this is quite a difference.

drinking at school

Yesterday at school we had a mini supra in the middle of the day for one of the teacher’s birthday.  There are many problems with this because 1) they put the whole school on hold so that they teachers could have a party, 2) there was  very strong homemade Georgian wine at the supra 3) Georgians think it’s great when I drink.  Needless to say I went to my next class, following this mini party, slightly intoxicated.  I tried to tell them that I didn’t want to drink because we still had more lessons that day but my principal insisted that I drink and that it really didn’t matter.  She ended up getting drunk off of three glasses of this wine.  This is totally the norm though.
                I was totally exhausted by the end of the 6th period and I still had one more class to go.  I was more tired and frustrated than usual because this was the second day in a row that my co-English teacher had not been at school. I knew she was not going to be there but I didn’t realized how difficult the 4th graders were going to be.  I teach 3rd grade and their behavior is better!  So by the end of 6th period I told my 7th period class (my  11th graders) to just go home, they were more than excited to go home early.  More than half the class was missing and I didn’t think they were going to show up either.  This also just happens.  Students are around, somewhere, but they just don’t go to class and the best part is, is that no one cares.
                Then I proceeded to have a dance party in our computer lab with two of the other younger teacher and a 9th grader.  Maybe he should have been in class… I don’t know.  Either way it was a really good time.   I guess people on the street could hear the music and they would give little jig when they walked by the school.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Almost a month ago I took my first weekend trip with a couple of friends to Batumi (the resort town of Georgia).  The drive to Batumi was amazing because we spent most of the time driving along the coast of the Black Sea.  It was also sunset so the sun was setting behind the water.  It would have been such a romantic moment if it weren’t overwhelmed by the stench of Georgian men.  Just as a side note, I don’t know what it is or where that smell comes from but dear god-find a shower.  It’s strange because everyone looks like they have showered, at least in the last two days, but they still smell so bad.
                Anyway, when we got to Batumi we were met by a Georgian man who was a friend of a friend of one of my friends that I was traveling with. He said that he had some apartments we could rent for the weekend and we thought it sounded like a good idea…not.
                He first took us to his apartment and told us (through Yev speaking Russian) that they had a spare room where we could all sleep.  We tried to tell him that we didn’t want to stay there with him and his family.  (At this time as we are all standing in the front hall his daughter is running around us like it’s totally normal).  We finally convinced him that we didn’t want to stay there, so he insisted that we go to another one of his apartments.  As we arrived to the other apartment, we walked up 6 flights of stairs, and through what could have been a set of a horror film we got to the second apartment.
                When we went inside we weren’t that impressed but it was close to the beach so whatever.  We paid him for two nights (mistake) and got him out the door as fast as possible.  We were so hungry we just wanted to drop our stuff and find a restaurant.  Not five minutes after he left the water in the apartment stopped working.  We weren’t too shocked because the water in most of Georgia is on a cycle so we figured it would just come one later. Again, we were wrong.  But at that moment the only thing we were focused on was food.
                As the night went on we found ourselves at a Turkish restaurant for dinner (as the Turkish border is only kilometers from Batumi), walked along the stone beach of the black sea, climbed a tower over looking Batumi and the water (even though it was night time it was still cool), and found some other English teachers at a bar by the sea.  Finally we had had enough and we made our way back to our waterless apartment.
                The next morning we still didn’t have any water and we were all feeling a bit gross but I guess at this point we were just beginning to fit in and become Georgian (remember the smell I spoke of earlier).  We found a restaurant and got two Irish coffees to start our day then we walked around a bit and found a book store with some English books.  I bought two books for my host-sister and then we decided to walk back to our still waterless apartment to rest and get stuff so we could shower a friends’ hotel room.
                After our showers we grabbed some dinner and a few bottles of alcohol and headed for the beach.  We spent the rest of night drinking and catching up with friends from our training group on the beach, with the sound of the waves crashing in the background.  My friends Carla and I had the bright idea to go ankle deep in the water for a drunken heart to heart.  We almost fell several times but we managed to stay somewhat dry.  At the end of the night we flagged down a taxi and returned to our still waterless apartment.
                The next morning we still didn’t have water, but at this time we had given up hope.  We got some food and went to the bus station.  It was definitely an experience, one that I don’t think I will do again.  I vote hotel from now on but you live and you learn.

Best quote of the whole weekend, “I don’t want to complain but, this orange juice could use some work.” –Yev, who was the only one who never really complained the whole weekend regardless of what happened to us and finally the OJ broke him down.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wishing I had what every Montanan has

A gun, to shoot these dogs.

I have been running in the mornings or the evenings around my village and I am still having problems with the dogs.  Shockingly enough, I had fewer problems with the street dogs in the cities, than the dogs in my village.  Yesterday I was running in the evening and was literally chased by a dog.  I honestly thought that I was going to have to fight a dog.  I keep thinking to myself how that would go down and how I could manage to win-which I'm unsure about.  It is truly terrifying but I have managed this far I guess.  I am learning where these dogs are so I am not going there but still I never know when one is going to round a corner and decided that today is the day.

A life full of surprises

It has been some time since I have posted.  This is because I am finally gaining independence from my family, who has been very protective since my arrival.  I have been able to travel with friends on the weekends to Batumi, Kutaisi, and the capital Tbilisi.

Batumi was an interesting experience.  The lesson we learned there was not to trust a friend who knows someone who knows someone.  The good part about our trip to Batumi was the sea.  For those who don't know and I have not made look at a map, Georgia's coast is of the Black Sea.  Batumi is the "resort capital" of Georgia so things are a bit more expensive and there is a ton of construction going on.  I feel this is where Georgia is trying to build it's tourism industry.  They will probably be successful in this in 5-10 years.  I also feel that if it's not a Church then it's going to take twice as long to build it.  This could be just a rule of thumb, but who knows.

My time in Kutaisi was a bit more relaxed then my trips to Batumi or Tbilisi, and I think this is because there is not to much in Kutaisi to see.  It is more a city of function.  Although we did stay at a cute hotel on the hill and rode the cable car down to the city center.  I think that's much cooler then a taxi.

Tbilisi was yet a different experience.  We took Friday off from school and took an afternoon bus from Zugdidi to Tbilisi.  I can't even tell you how long the ride took but this drive and the one on the way back were by far the scariest driving experiences I have ever had in my life.  Please talk about L.A. or New York but there is no competition.  And as we keep saying, for this specific situation Georgian drivers are good drivers but it's scary as hell.  At one point I realized that we were all holding each others hands or knees in fear that we might just tip over.

Back to Tbilisi.  Tbilisi is much like other cities in Europe but not as nice but it still has much to offer.  We visited the Holy Trinity Church that was just recently built and took 4 years to build.  I would say it's much more grand on the outside then on the inside.  We also walked up to the fortress and to the statue of Mother Georgia.  The fortress was really cool and the stairs were nearly impossible.  We also spent a good deal of time at cafes in Old Tbilisi which is very cute.  And of course, if there is a McDonald's it beckons all Americans in its radius.  So we made a few trips there as well.  But, the most interesting part about going to McDonald's in Georgia is that they have a hostess at the door who greets you.  On top of this she will always look like a super model.  Its a cross between a super model and a flight attendant-heels and all.

Then, on Sunday we somehow got back to Zugdidi, only to find that the weather had turned and it went from around 85 degrees to maybe 50.  It's a nice change of pace though.