I commented to a friend yesterday that it feels like I signed up for a Georgian winter vacation lately, rather than a real teaching job. Hello snow days! Just last week there was only two full days of school and this week looks to be about three.
Part of the reason is that our area gets 6-12 inches of snow regularly which kills the power grid and slows things down. The other reason is that snow plows just aren’t as abundant, the roads are hilly and slippery, and we draw a lot of kids from the country side. Where you can’t get a snow plow through, you certainly aren’t going to get a local minibus (mashutka) and when half the kids can’t show up for school the rest is fate. So I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to read and explore lately.
The other weekend I made plans with friends to go to Kutaisi, but last minute my host family sprung a Tbilisi trip on me. I went of course. Such things are the give and take of living with others. As with everything else though, frustration passes. Turns out I had a great time getting to know my Georgian family relatives, seeing Tbilisi-based volunteers, and touring the sights for the first time. During training I just didn’t take the time because the sights I was most interested in was the Georgian lifestyle, but I’ve seen that now, and this time in Tbilisi checking out tourist sites sounded great.
They are beautiful after all. The Eastern Orthodox churches are like the food and music, similar, yet unique. I spent time walking Rustaveli and seeing the theaters and Parliament, then took a night trip to the old fortress and got a grand view of the churches. Some guards were even kind enough to let us in past closing time so my English speaking cousins narrated some history of the churches close up.
Then this last weekend the Kutaisi trip finally came together, and some volunteers and I met each other at the McDonald’s there. It’s really amazing actually how MANY volunteers there are in the country. In Tanzania there were only two of us on the entire 5 hour stretch (and our experience wasn’t unique), so it never ceases to awe me how easy it is to reach other volunteers here. Nevertheless we still get a very Georgian experience because despite their relative closeness, I hadn’t seen any of these people since training three weeks ago. Equally impressive (and ironic) is how much a delicacy McDonald’s seems when you’re overseas. That Mcflurry was delicious! In all it was a solid day, with chatting and tooling around the city happening in equal parts. I was glad to finally feel a little more independent – having taken a mashutka back and forth places instead of being driven by my family.
Mainly the day is spent focusing on keeping warm. A lack of central heating keeps your instincts sharp on what not to do in chilly weather. Besides visiting places, I find myself tearing through my meager book collection. When power permits it I immediately charge my computer, take a shower, and if the internet is working, download a TV show and check my email. Real teaching hasn’t been much on my plate lately, but soon enough I’m sure. Until that point I continue to enjoy my Georgian wintry vacation.