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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Willage and Thanksgiving

Well, it was yet another week of hardly working at school, and I feel awful about it. I will have had 6 classes, totaling only 5 hours of work. As I always like to do, I can rationalize this somewhat by arguing that Tuesday was a national holiday, Giorgoba, and I was out of town Tuesday. Nevertheless, I still feel bad about it, and people back home have got to be wondering what I do with the rest of my time. Now, let me indulge your curiosity and tell you about one of my best weeks in Georgia.

For Giorgoba (St. George’s Day), I went with my student, Tornike, to the willage he is from. As expected, willages in Georgia are much different from our rural towns in The States. I am sure every reader would expect this to be the case, and so did I; but my comical expectations were more than satisfied after spending two days there. One of the first things we did was grab a rooster and take it to the church to be sacrificed. The tradition is to walk around the church with the rooster while praying (some people make one circle, some are there for hours), and afterwards there are two choices: you can sacrifice the rooster or you can let it go free. Since we were having suphra later that day, we chose the former option, and it was an experience that would make the average American cringe. The killer stands on the rooster’s legs, uses a small, sharp knife to saw off its head, breaks off the legs by hand and lets it bleed out. I had a picture of the experience, but I realized it was pretty distasteful, so, no worries, you won’t be surprised by such a picture in one of my albums. It was an experience to say the least.

After the sacrifices were made, we hung out at their willage home while suphra was being prepared. It was pretty cool to be preparing an animal that was alive just hours ago, although it’s a lot of work. My favorite food in Georgia is mtsvade which is basically pork kobobs with onions and delicious sauce, and the best I have had in Georgia was there in the willage. Tornike’s father had some of his high school friends come over and join us for suphra (they brought their roosters too), and I was somewhat of a willage celebrity. The food was great and the people were so much fun. They were very impressed and excited that I know Georgian, and I communicated quite well with the family throughout the trip. I got to try homemade wine, vodka and cha-cha which was pretty cool too, although I was super scared it would make me go blind or something do to improper brewing.

After suphra, I went to Tornike’s friend’s house where he showed me his guns and we talked about rock music – turns out rural Georgia and rural America have a lot in common. The biggest difference was the hole-in-the-ground outhouse which I do have a picture of, but it is slightly graphic (I am warning you because it will likely be posted on facebook). I am not sure how or if they shower, but at least that is something I didn’t have to worry about. One of the coolest parts of the willage adventure was getting to see their school and talk to the kids learning English. The classes were only 4-8 people big, and they had only been learning English for 2 years unlike the city kids. I can’t imagine how different it would be to be placed at a school like this, but I definitely don’t think it would be all bad. I think we would have stayed for longer, but I needed to get back because I had to tutor Dato, so we loaded up some homemade alcohol and returned to civilization.

Tutoring has been going really well, and it is nice to supplement my income a little bit too. I can see definite progress in his English, and, for better or worse, it is the most positive aspect of my teaching experience here in Georgia. I accidentally lost my US Bank card, so I have no access to my money back home, but it hasn’t turned out to be a big deal. Even though I have only gotten the one paycheck, I have managed just fine between that and tutoring money. It is nice to be a country where a full meal and drinks doesn’t exceed $4. I am excited about being able to take money home even though I will have travelled all over the country and Armenia on top of that.

As if I wasn’t a big deal here already, I made national news last night! One of my friends, Phillip, called me up and asked if I wanted to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday back home, so I jumped at the opportunity and brought some friends with me. It turns out that a news crew had been following him around all day to do a story about Thanksgiving. So, they caught us all at the dinner table feasting American style for a two-minute spot on primetime news. I want to briefly mention that this is extra funny because there is a lot of political strife surrounding our program, and propaganda, like this story, is really quite common – gotta love being a part of it.

Tornike wanted me to come with him to Kakheti, the wine-region of Georgia, for the weekend, but I kind of need a weekend with just American friends. It takes a lot out of me to constantly operate in Georgian, but it is also fun to recognize my progress with the language. I think my Georgian has surpassed my German, but it has a long ways to go to catch up to my Spanish. Anyways, I digress. The trip to Kakheti should be fun because the ministry is paying for all transportation, food and entertainment, so I’m excited. Also, apparently some American football teams are being put together to play some time, and I am really excited about that; however, I hope we don’t have to play with Georgians because, outside of soccer, they are awful at every sport I have seen. Hopefully the ministry doesn’t fall through on those plans… we’ll see I guess.

I have just over 3 weeks left which is pretty crazy. Other than our trip to Armenia, which is still on, I don’t really have anything else I want to accomplish. I love being here, but I won’t be upset about going home either. I really hope to do some more travelling soon, but it is hard to say what that might be right now. At least I have friends in Ireland, England, Australia and South Africa that would all put me up and show me around. Hopefully I will be able to take them up on those offers sooner rather than later.

*Georgians cant pronounce village correctly, in case you hadn't picked that up.

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