When I left Tanzania I couldn’t listen to Swahili music for almost a year afterword because it made me hurt with the desire to be there. I’m fairly certain I’ll be equally haunted by Georgian dance after I leave here. I went on an excellent cultural excursion on Tuesday. This post is dedicated towards Tuesday’s adventure and a wisely written song by the Be Good Tanya’s.
“It’s times like these I feel so strong and wild, like the ramblin’ footsteps of a wandering child”
The event was hosted by our Education Resource Center (ERC) for all the teach abroad volunteers and co-teachers in Terjola. Morning saw us volunteers and co-teachers meeting up, and taking a tricked-out road bus up a long mountain path and over some hills until we arrived at a snowy feast. Literally a small supra had been set at a table in the middle of a snowy park. The rangers met us at the feast, but before eating we first got a guided tour through the nearby cave. I’ve forgotten the name but for those interested it’s around Nakshirele village – not far from Kutaisi.
The cave was fascinating. It had an interesting history – discovered by two sisters apparently. Also nice, it was much warmer in the cave than outside. Thus at the end of our guided cave tour, the rangers brought the supra table inside the cave, and we toasted to each other’s health with red wine and ate fruit, chocolate, and katchipuri INSIDE the cave. Having a party in a cave is officially checked off my bucket list.
After this we took off down the back roads to another village called Chkari, and repeated this process in yet a different cave. I kid you not, there was a lunch and everything INSIDE the cave…AGAIN. This cave had an inside waterfall which I got to walk over. Yet another tick went on my bucket list. After touring we stopped in to Chkari’s school, which is the newest around and got to check out the facilities. They were very impressive, and we got an impromptu concert from the music teacher. All in all, quite sweet, but only a hint of what was to come.
“You pass through places and places pass through you, but you carry’em with you on the souls of your travelin’ shoes.”
It was when we got back to Terjola that the real cultural sharing shined. Here we had a concert from the best singers and dancers in the district. Everyone was decked out in full Georgian regalia and local residents and teachers stopped by too. In between performances, one by one, we volunteers (with co teachers translating) came on stage and introduced ourselves – including where we were from, why we were here, and our family. The residents clapped graciously at our statements, and laughed understandingly at our mistakes. One volunteer who’d worked in Sudan taught a Sudanese sign language greeting, and I shared the Tanzanian philosophy to “be free”. The dancers were amazing – so young and talented! I won’t forget the wild gypsy rhythms of the music, and stomping beats of their feet. Also in the finale, even though the power went out, the singers shut the theater down with their powerful voices.
“The littlest bird sings the prettiest song”
The day ended with a traditional supra at a restaurant just outside of town. As usual there was too much food and wine for everyone, and we all shared a pleasant evening in each other’s company. All in all a superb event planned by our ERC, and a fine example of Georgian hospitality. As well it’s a first rate illustration on many levels of the truism that in many cases, “The littlest bird sings the prettiest song”. A small district, of a small region, in a country both small geographically and in population, can sing truly lovely melodies of love, strength, culture and hospitality. I am blessed to have heard it, and if any out there are considering Georgia, I encourage you to come and listen.