Friday, November 19, 2010

Borjomi Weekend

                So last weekend I went with 16 other volunteer English teachers to the city of Borjomi.  Borjomi is a destination city in Georgia not only because it used to be the resort town during the Soviet era but also because it is where the famous Borjomi water comes from.  The water that comes from Borjomi is a natural mineral water.  It is believed to be very healthy and regardless of your sickness everyone says to drink the mineral water.  I personally would account for this.  Every time I have a stomach problem (which is every week or so) I drink one of the mineral waters (Borjomi, Nabeghlavi, or my favorite Likani) and my stomach does feel better.
                Anyway, we ended up leaving Zugdidi early Saturday morning and driving to Borjomi, finding our hotel then driving on past Borjomi to Vardzia.  Vardzia is a city carved out of the mountain side.  From the outside to you can see large openings in the rock, which lead you into tunnels in the mountain far from the reaches of daylight.  We spent two hours exploring the caves there.  In Vardzia there is also the Sapara Monastery.  The church was closed but the monks opened it for our group. (That, among other things, are the advantages of working for a well publicized government program).
`               After the caves we made the drive back to Borjomi.  We were all so hungry because we hadn’t eaten all day and we had been drinking wine out of huge barrels during the drive to Borjomi.  (Again, one of the benefits of living in a developing country, there are no open container laws… I think.  Plus, they don’t even count wine as alcohol).  We arrived at some restaurant in Borjomi, where we proceeded to order 7, count them, 7 courses.  While we are waiting for our food, some drunken Georgians from another table spontaneously started dancing the traditional Georgian Folk Dance.  It was really entertaining.  One of the guys asked me to dance with them right when we got our first course.  I looked at him like he was crazy to ask me.  If I hadn’t have been so hungry I probably would have joined them.  (One of my English teachers has been trying to teach me the traditional Georgian Folk dance in our off periods recently so I do kind of know what I am doing).
                After dinner we went to our horrible hotel and climbed into the most horrific beds I have ever seen in my entire life.  We are all still alive and without disease so I think it’s fine.  The following morning we woke up, went to a place for tea and coffee and then we made our way to the famous park in Borjomi.
                In the park there is a fountain where you can fill containers with the natural spring water, a fitness center, and a special part of the park called Fairy Land.  We actually spent most of our time in Fairy Land.  There were all sorts of interesting play structures that we were all climbing on, in and through.  There were also a few slides but no one was able to actually slide down them.  Ironic, right?  We spent maybe 2 hours there and then we got back into our beloved Marshrutka and headed back to Zugdidi.
                We ended up getting back to Zugdidi late so a few of us were not able to make our buses to our villages so I caught a bus to the next village over from mine and decided to figure out how to get home when I got there.  Keep in mind my house is 4km from the village where I got off the bus.  So I ended up walking the first third because I was waiting for my host dad to meet me.  I figured I would just start walking in that direction even though it was dark and somewhat not safe.  Mom and Grammy, I am sorry for this next part.  BUT, I was walking along when a car pulled up next to me.  The guy driving started speaking Megruli to me so I asked him to speak Georgian, and the he asked me where I was going. I told him and he seemed to know where my house was so I got in the back seat.  I could not believe that this was my first time hitch-hiking.  When I got in the car I saw another man in the front seat and I got a little nervous but I felt better because I was in the back seat and I had my knife in my hand. (I had been walking with it in my hand the whole time anyway).  So this guy starts asking me questions and I’m trying to answer them with the best of my ability and I am asking him questions as well but I was having the hardest time understanding him.  Then I learned he was drunk.  So not only had I hitch-hiked, I had gotten into a car with a drunk driver.  But we were on a dirt road and going ridiculously slow so I figured it was ok.  Finally, I saw another car headed the other direction and I asked the man to stop; I got out and lucky enough it was my host dad.  I had recognized his headlights (Passat).  (I guess learning the headlights for different cars in high school has finally paid off in another way rather than identifying police cars).
So I made it home ok so don’t worry about anything.  I won’t be doing anymore traveling in the near future so this won’t be happening again, so don’t worry.

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