After three days of traveling, I finally arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia for my teach abroad program. I left home this past Thursday—traveled from Atlanta, to Orlando, to New York, to Warsaw, to Tbilisi—and arrived Sunday from the epic journey. It has been a great few days here in Tbilisi. There hasn’t been much of an opportunity to sight see but we’ve definitely made the most of it. The 13 hour layover in Warsaw gave us enough time to see some intriguing sights and it was fun to hang out with other volunteers heading to Georgia.
On Sunday we finally arrived at the Tbilisi airport at 5 AM. Immediately we saw a sign welcoming us to the “city that loves you.” From everything I’ve heard, this would seem to be the case. We have yet to really interact with the people here since we are in training about 12 hours everyday, but I’ve been here enough to see that I’m going to love it. Fortunately, after arriving Sunday at our (exquisite!) hotel, we were pretty much given the whole day to relax—so we of course decided to explore some of the city. We took a taxi to the bottom of this mountain with a beautiful Church at the top and decided to hike up the rest of the way. What we discovered is apparently the Narikala Fortress, a wall that overlooks the entire city of Tbilisi. Along the wall there is this beautiful and striking statue of Kartlis Deda, or Mother Georgia. She is pretty intimidating to be honest. Her muscular figure is 20 meters high; in one hand she carries a bowl for those who come as friends and in the other a sword for those who come as enemies. The view from that fortress—on one side the colorful Tbilisi architecture and on the other beautiful green mountains—was incredible. This place is truly stunning and full of character. I will definitely put up pictures when I get a chance sometime this week.
Probably the hardest part so far has been overcoming the exhaustion. I don’t know if it’s the jet lag or just not enough rest but it’s been really hard staying alert in our classes. We have about three hours of Georgian language classes and then another several hours of intercultural training, with other administrative meetings in between. Our classes are taught by language teachers and intercultural trainers that the Peace Corps here uses so they definitely know what they are doing. People have been fighting cabin fever because our training and our meals are all in the hotel we are staying. Some people have had chances to escape at night.
Yesterday a group of us made it to a bar in downtown Tbilisi, which was great to see a bit of the city at night. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know the other teachers—there are people from Canada, Australia, Scotland, South Africa, Argentina, Britain, Ireland, Syria, and more. It feels kind of like camp here though, so I’m definitely ready to get out and get to know the real Georgia. It’s getting harder to imagine what it’s going to be like out there when we are surrounded by such comfort and convenience. The hotel staff is accommodating to our every needs—we even have a towel warmer in the shower. We have another two and a half days here so I guess I better just enjoy the hot showers while they last. More still to come from “the city that loves you”.