beautiful: During the month of May, I was determined to travel more around the country. I accomplished this by going to cities like Borjomi, Mestia, Ushguli, and Zugdidi, and from what I’ve seen there are so many reasons why Georgians have such pride in their land. Borjomi is known for the freshwater which flows down from the mountains. The city has numerous natural springs and unique mineral water that is said to have healing qualities! Gorgeous forests and mountains surround this area and the air is so pure and clean…it’s reviving just to breathe it in!
Mestia and Ushguli are located in the northern most part of Georgia and Ushguli is home to the cabins/summer homes of many Georgians in my village. Both villages are part of Svaneti, the pride and joy of Georgia, with vast fields and gorgeous mountains. When I told my host family about my journey, they were all envious of my time there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as pleasant of a trip as I had hoped since it rained the entire time my friend Metieu and I were there. Also, we didn’t consider that visiting before summer was in full swing would mean open shops and restaurants were virtually non-existant. Nonetheless, it was such a beautiful and remote location that I feel privileged to have been able to go.
Lastly, Zugdidi was a short day trip but I was able to take a tour of the Dadiani Palace, walk around a botanical garden, and relax in city center park which was equipped with a sound system. Lots of beautiful things to see and the city park was a great place to devour a shwarma (a Turkish sandwich with roasted meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo and ketchup).
frustrating: With children who could care less about learning English, a culture that sees women as objects instead of people, and a cheap but unreliable transportation system, it’s easy to get frustrated.
As explained in past blogs, my weeks consist of good and bad days. I prepare each morning by looking over what I’m going to teach for the day and deciding appropriate activities. Even with all this planning, there is never guarantee that children will be attentive or care enough about the lesson. It really does change on a day by day basis! I understand that kids are kids and are far from consistent. However, my years in elementary and middle school are not that far behind and I remember having teachers put the fear of God in me! If I was in trouble or yelled at, I made a change and straightened up. Children don’t seem to hold this concept any more and it’s a struggle to get them to listen, pay attention, and stay quiet!
As for the way women are treated in this country, this is a conversation that could go on forever but I’ll sum it up with what my friend and fellow TLGer told me the other day. My friend is African American and he receives a lot of stares from Georgians because there are simply not many black people in Georgia. We’re sitting in a park in Rustavi and I’m expressing my thoughts on how it feels to be a woman in Georgia. He replies that while he receives a lot of looks, he noticed twice as many people looking at me while we were walking down the street. I was not dressed evocatively, being rude, or doing anything to cause extra attention. It was a struggle when I first arrived receiving too many stares and that seems to be a problem that will never go away.
All I have to say about transportation is that it’s incredibly cheap but there’s a reason for that. We stop constantly at the whim of driver, it’s crowded and hot with summer on its way, and marshrutkas don’t have good suspension systems. It’s been suggested that they should make a marshrutka simulation ride in the States. It will be the bumpiest, most uncomfortable, and vomit-inducing ride of your life!
unexpected: From the travels I’ve had here, I’ve learned to ALWAYs expect the unexpected but there’s something special about that. I came to this country with very little know-how on the culture, the scenery, and it’s people. I’ve been disappointed at times but I’ve also been surprised in so many ways. Isn’t that what traveling is all about? Having your expectations shattered in the best possible way. This way you build relationships with others and you build yourself up to be a better and stronger version of yourself. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!!! Well except maybe those marshrutkas……