Well working 8 hours in a week is even more luxurious than it sounds; however, boredom can definitely occur once you realize there are 160 other hours in your week. It was definitely the first week since I have been here that I have employed my “I will bring this in case I get bored” backups because I needed to. I watched the first season of lost, started reading the greatest literary work in Georgian history and actually took some pictures. I definitely feel blessed that I have not been really bored so far because I have heard horror stories of other teachers going crazy because they have nothing to do with their time. Being stationed in Tbilisi has been a blessing that I may never be able to fully appreciate.
The other huge advantage to being in Tbilisi is that I have loads of friends to spend time with. Twice during the week I met up with friends to grab coffee and talk. We Americans have certain hang out spots in Tbilisi as well, so it is always fun to meet up with some other teachers you didn’t expect to be there and catch up with them. Personally, I think we need to choose different locations, because Americans always seem to gravitate towards the expensive places that take advantage of their customers, but such is life. Regardless of my sentiments towards overpriced coffee, it is nice to have the option.
We are thinking about having a Thanksgiving party for ourselves because we are all sorely missing the holiday back home. We aren’t exactly sure how feasible it is to make all the seasonal foods, but I think we could throw together something pretty decent. I wish I was more of a real cook so I could actually manage something like this. I am hoping that we get something off the ground at least, because I could really go for some turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Shouldn’t be too hard right?
Three of us decided to go to Gazbegi, a mountain town that is close to the Russian border, for the weekend. It was an easy 3-hour ride up there that reminded me of scary mountain driving in the Rockies. Georgia is really quite scenic, however, and I find myself more enthralled in the beauty than fearful of it. We also met some other Americans on the marshutka ride up there that were teaching in Turkey, so that was cool. It was a little disheartening to hear that they are making 3x what we are; however, we are getting a 1-month holiday with our plane tickets paid for. It all works out in the end I guess, but I could use some extra money about now.
The coolest part of Gazbegi is this monastery on a mountain with an even bigger mountain behind it. The trek initially seemed pretty intimidating, but Lawrence and I were able to manage the 4-mile hike in about an hour and a half. This is the second overly-remote monastery I have visited, and the Georgian dedication to such things is absolutely intriguing. I have no idea how much work it must have been to get all the materials up to the mountain and then build this thing, but they did it. And these monasteries aren’t just old and abandoned; they are still used each and every day. Priests live on site and conduct daily services, one of which we got to see! Also, I must note that these guys spend their spare time growing amazing beards. Truly, only these beards can rival the beauty of the Gazbegi scenery, and every man in existence should be jealous of such ability.
We stayed in a really cool hostel/house place that was only $8 a person. Although there wasn’t hot water, the host’s amiable nature made up for it. We got really good local food, but, as I have said many times before, it is the exact same food we get everywhere we go in Georgia: cheesy bread, meat on a stick, meat dumplings, regular bread and sauce (I do love the sauce, haha). This town is so small that it doesn’t have a bar, so we grabbed a couple drinks and hung out in our hostel. I served as our tamada (which translates as king of the feast… I have probably already mentioned that, but it’s awesome to hear repeatedly), and we had great night. I especially loved the parts where Lawrence, a gay Irish man, explained Irish slang and the things he missed most: shopping, dressing up to go out and talking to his girlfriends. Maybe you had to be there, but, if you try really hard, I think you can conjure up a funny scene similar to the real thing.
In other cool news, we are planning a trip to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. I don’t know about you, but I think this sounds pretty exciting. I am thinking about paying for Levan to come as well because he is half Armenian, and he has never been to the bordering country. It might not work out, but I offered up the prospect to him and he seemed pretty excited about it. It’s a little frustrating because I am already paying the family money and I take Levan out with me (I have spent like 50 Lari for him at restaurants and bars), but this might be the only time he gets to see Armenia! Anyways, we have two weeks before that trip, so we will see how that goes.
I will be home in less than a month, which I am really excited about. I love being here, but as I was explaining to Lawrence and James, I have a lot I care about at home. I am excited for the suphra I am going to have after Christmas some time, and it will be good to see my siblings and my girlfriend for the first time in 4 months. Travelling and such is good, but I think that real life is even better – though I know that the former improves your ability to appreciate the latter. I am excited to be home and share the more intimate details of my trip with everyone, and I hope all is well on your end. I will try to have another update soon and a bunch of pictures are about to go up on facebook should you be interested.
*That is the link to some of the pictures I have so far, hopefully there aren't too many problems getting it to work.