I have to say that I had pretty good weekend. Things started off with Jason Solana, a fellow teacher from Florida, coming to Isani (my part of Tbilisi), though the trip was not a swift one. He took a couple wrong buses and the trip ended up taking him like 4 hours. I dont think Tbilisi is super difficult to get around once you know the bus and marshutka routes, but it is super difficult to do so as an English speaker. Basically, all the routes are written in Georgian on a small, cardboard sign taped against the windshields. This sucks for two reasons: one being that it is hard to read Georgian very quickly, and, two, if i successfully sound out the word, I have no idea what part/street of Tbilisi that is referring to. This has resulted in my personal dependence on the Metro station which is less cost effective, takes longer and smells awful; however, I am mobile and that is what matters. But I digress...
Jason was soaked because it had been raining pretty hard, and we (Levan included) stepped into the closest bar we could find to dry off and have a couple beers. A couple other teachers showed up throughout the night, and we had a great time. I know I have said this already, but I am seriously way different than the other volunteers here. A majority of the conversation was which drugs they preferred and the benefits of being an Acid-head. I like a good time and everything, but I had zilch to contribute to the conversation; even though this was the case, Levan talked a bit about the drug problem among young men in Georgia, which I found sad but interesting. Though I had no personal investment in much of the conversation, other events were afoot that were great to watch. Levan was hitting on our waitress, and I must say that he was quite successful. We had a big conversation about sexual expectations within Georgian culture and from us, the teachers. Apparently, it would not be a big deal at all if I, a male teacher, had a female friend stay the night as long as she was an American or one of the other foreigners; however, shit would hit the fan if it was a Georgian girl. I do not think the same case exists for the American women if they wanted to have of a Georgian man, and I am aware of an individual pursuing such a thing. It will be interesting to see how that develops.
I have discovered that I must use some censorship in my writing because we believe that the Georgian government monitors our contact with the outside world. We know that the government has access to and listens to our phone conversations; and I am pretty sure that my blog, among many other blogs, are being read as well. I really dont care, especially because I know that we are a giant investment. We are expected to encourage tourism and be positive PR, and, to ensure this motive, they (the ministry as we call it. I wish we had ministries in America. It sounds so cool and mysterious) monitor our communication. My experience here has been very positive, so I hope that the ministry is enjoying my positive feedback.
Jason and I hung out in the cool area of Tbilisi all day on Saturday, and we actually met up with a ton of other teachers doing the same thing. We did some barhopping and talked about our respective situations. It was interesting to hear about the wide variety of situations, and, though I am jealous of some people, I know I have a good thing going for me. It sucks to be a girl, though, and I feel pretty bad for some of the female teachers. They often have ridiculous curfews and rigid expectations, but that truly is part of the protective culture (just like the double standard for bringing a Georgian girl home). Hopefully, the girls can see this overprotection as true acceptance into the family, and, if they are lucky, maybe they can overcome some of the barriers unfairly placed upon them. Again, I digress!
I ended up catching the Metro home instead of going out to the clubs with everyone. I had done a fair amount of socializing for the day, and I can't really say that clubbing is my thing. I came to find out that I saved myself a ton of cover charges and overpriced drinks, so I am glad I made the right decision. For those of you who are interested, the drink prices are pretty fair here. A half-liter beer (17 oz) is usually 1.5 Lari (85 cents), so that isn't bad at all. Also, you can usually order a half-litre of vodka to share with friends, and that is like 11 Lari ($6.50) and it is at-least Absolut quality. So, there you have it -- it is cheaper than Kirksville, but maybe a little more expensvive than Peru. Although they have a hard alcohol here called Cha-Cha that is exactly like pisco which I find interesting.
The most interesting part of my Sunday was that my computer charger stopped working. I know this happens to a lot of people, but I wish it didnt happen to me. So, I have no computer for the time being, and it is hard to find a compaq power supply in Georgia. I think this will most greatly affect my fantasy football teams, though, because I should still be able to blog after school. The suffering is purely my own! We took my power block to Levan's friend, and he broke it open to look at it (using a hammer, nothing else). It was so painful to watch because I knew they had no chance of repairing it using such barbaric methods. I guess it wasnt working anyways, but I still hated seeing them beat it to a pulp. Men here are ridiculously stubborn. I know that the reader will think this is the case everywhere, but I assure you it takes on a new level in Georgia. The men are absolutely confident in their opinions and approach on life. There is no allowance for possible error of thought. And this brings me to the second most interesting part of my Sunday.
Levan's friend Gio had a couple bets on Soccer matches, so we were going to go to the sports bar to watch, or so i thought. It turns out this is quite the gambling facility because they have the soccer matches televised, and slot machines and roulette tables as well. Gambling here is a serious problem (again, i know the reader will think this is the case everywhere), but there is a small casino (or Slot Club as they say) on every block. Suicide is a huge problem here, and it is well-known that gambling debts are part of the reason why. I saw Levan lose 80 Lari, which was painful because I am pretty sure he only makes ~300 Lari a month. Gio did the same, and I cant tell you how many other random, angry Georgian men followed suit. I happened to do quite well, so I bought everyone a couple rounds of beer. I am hoping that this excursion is a rare one, because I dont want the guys to expect me to buy their beer everywhere we go (I am already paying for Levan's anyways). It was bittersweet fun to say the least.
I am currently having some weird financial issues with my family (gambling may contribute to this), so i hope I get that ironed out. I would really like to elaborate, but I dont want the minisitry to intervene quite yet. Other than that, all is well! School was good today, and I think I will have a pretty good week, albeit possibly an uninteresting one.
I can never know though... it is Georgia afterall.