In Akhmeta proper there are three schools and I was the first English teacher placed here. About 4 weeks after I arrived in Georgia, I learned that two more teachers from the following group joined me in my little town in the corner! Phil and Cort…my local sanity. Phil is from Liverpool, England, Cort is from Alaska, and together these two lads manage to give me some sort of weekly social life. They live on the other side of town and at least once a week, we gather at the one “cafe” in Akhmeta to have a beer (or two) and speak English as fast as we can.
We discuss anything and everything from school strifes to crazy customs, and I always manage to get some sort of world history lesson as these two are like walking Wikipedias. We sit outside in the yellow patio furniture and although it warrants stares and snickering, each others’ company usually distracts us from the fact that we are on display. It’s something we’ve gotten used to and it’s much easier to shrug it off in numbers. The first time we met at the cafe we joked about how it would be the talk of the town and sure enough, the next day in class my students were telling my co-teacher that I was at the cafe with the boys. If there was a local tabloid I’m sure we’d make the cover at least every other week.
When I arrive home I’m usually greeted by Nana (my host sister-in-law) one or two of my lovely neighbors, and the love of my Georgian life, Lizi. Lizi is Nana and Giorgi’s 11-month-old daughter and she knows how to brighten anyone’s day. Everyday I pop my head in the kitchen and say “Hi, Lizi!” and she gets the biggest smile on her face and just giggles (I think this earned me points with mom earlier on). She’s a happy baby with so much energy and now that its warm she’s getting to put it to good use. She just started crawling and can already pull herself up.
Today she even stood by herself for about a 1.5 seconds before toppling over! I’m no parent, so I’m not quite sure when kids are suppose to start doing this, but given the cold winter, hardwood floors and lack of heating, there was no way she was allowed to crawl around on the ground when I first got here. And even if she was, she most likely wouldn’t have been able to move with all the layers she had on. However, my proudest moment was about a month ago when I came home from school and like every other day, went into the kitchen and said “Hi, Lizi!” except this time, she looked up and said “hi!” I stood there wide eyed and wasn’t sure if I heard her right, but when Nana did a 180 and exclaimed “Vaimey!” (the Georgian “OMG”) I knew I’d taught this baby something. It’ll probably be the only English I get to teach her, but it was a goal of mine and one I can proudly check off my list.