I did a lot over the last two weeks, but I have come to realize that a lot of it would likely be uninteresting and similar to everything else I had been doing – so I will try to stick to the basics. I got my plane ticket which was set to send me home the 22nd, but that was inadequate because I wouldn’t be able to make family Christmas in Chicago. So, $115 later I changed it to come home a week earlier on the 15th. It’s kinda crazy because I went from being mentally prepared for 11 more days to having only 4. All things considered, however, I was excited about moving up the date.
For my last weekend I went to the my friend Jason’s village where we had suphra and spent the night. He has a really interesting situation because he has a serious thing for his host sister, like would consider spending the rest of his life in Georgia serious. She is really cool and I totally see why he digs her, it’s just crazy to think about meeting someone like this. It was an amazing way to spend my last weekend because I got to continue Georgian tradition with my 3 best friends here. It’s gonna be hard to leave everyone behind – I will likely never see many of them ever again. I guess true friendship finds a way, though, and I have faith in some sort of reunion.
I think the best way to sum up my experience is to explain my last day in Georgia because it really captured what this experience has been for me. Knowing it was going to be my last day it school, it wasn’t as hard to get out of bed as it usually is. Not to say I am depressed or anything, but my room is seriously really cold, and it is hard to muster up the strength to brave the nipple-hardening cold. I got dressed all spiffy-like, I figure you gotta go out looking good. There is one girl, Nino, who is pretty obsessed with me and was waiting at the entrance to the school property. She started tearing up immediately, and, though it was somewhat sad, it was a pretty hysterical tantrum – seriously, she’s obsessed. She asked me to give her my Mizzou beanie to remember me by, and I have no doubt she will wear it every day for the next couple years. I will put a picture of us up as soon as I can.
I only had 2 classes scheduled for the day, and I would like to say I usually work harder at school, but 2 hours of work has pretty much been the norm. As usual, I don’t think the students really got much out of the lesson. There are always a few students who really commit themselves and then there is everyone else… All of us teachers have had a tough time in the classroom, and I don’t think there is an easy solution to the problem as long as we are paired up with the Georgian co-teacher. Anyways, after my lessons my two favorite teachers gave me some gifts. Pretty much everything here is centered on wine, so they gave me these cool little goblet doodads and a fancy pitcher thing. It was really nice of them and I like to brag about it because a lot of the other Americans here have poor relations with their school and have no chance of getting such wondrous gifts. I definitely won the school lottery.
After some more tearful goodbyes, I quickly made my way home to drop off my gifts. I had to hurry because I was meeting my friends for Thai food which I was excited about. It is sad to say, but it was one of the best meals I have had in Georgia. For $7 each we got a ton of delicious, flavorful food, drinks and a sumptuous ice-cream dessert platter. Also, it was nice to sate my spicy food addiction because Georgian food simply doesn’t do the trick. I thought I was going to have to hurry and leave to go sign this super important form at the ministry of education. I need to sign something special to be officially affiliated with them so I can receive money when I recruit people to the program. And I wouldn’t be too worried about it, but it’s like thousands of dollars at stake, so I needed to get it done. Basically, the ministry totally dropped the ball and couldn’t get the form finished, so we are going to have to try and figure out some fax/email method of getting it done. It was absolutely fitting that my last day would include some screw up by the ministry, haha.
Since I didn’t have to go there anymore, I went with a couple friends to this park where they had a bunch of ping-pong tables. It was only 50cents for an hour, so I showed off my mad ping-pong skills, though Gilby and I ended up with 3-3, so we will have to have game 7 sometime later. One of the greatest things about this program has been having a hundred cool people to do something with all the time. Whether it’s getting different food, playing ping pong, going out or travelling to Armenia, there is always someone up for something – those of you that know me know how much I appreciate this.
I had to rush from ping-pong to say goodbye to James and Jason (2 of the best friends I mentioned earlier). I sat down for a quick 10-minute tea with and promised we would meet up at some point in life. I am gonna miss those guys. A bunch of people wanna backpack Europe over the summer, and, if I can throw some money together, I might make an attempt to do it. If anybody readings this wants to come, do it man!
I had to leave there early in order to get to suphra on time. Tornike, the 11th grade student that took me to the village and has hosted me for suphra twice previously, invited me over for my final Georgian meal. His buddies were all there too, and we suphrad as we always have before, but it is something that could never get old. They all told me how good of a guy I was and that they didn’t expect an American guy to be so cool, and I told them they are awesome and I could never forget them. Looking back now, it is almost unreal that the whole event happened. Georgia is awesome.
As much as I wanted to stay all night, I knew I should be getting back because it was my last night in the country and I should spend a little time with the family. They were all waiting for me, and it was nice that they had a little get together to send me off. They gave me a Georgian propaganda magazine with a small flag inside as a parting gift, and I am proud to say I can even read some of it! For my final meal, Levan threw some potatoes in the fire, let them burn and turn into coals. Then he served them to me… As gross as they appeared, it was somehow fitting that this was my last meal presented to me by my family. I ate my potato coals and considered what foods I would have first once I was back in the States. Another fitting family moment was that my host mom asked me to go buy butter from the local store because she was going to bed, haha. Ahh well, I love it!
The novelty of airports has pretty much worn off and I was a little pissed to find out that they wouldn’t let me bring all my luggage back without paying extra, even though I brought the same amount of stuff over on the same airlines. So I left all my shoes and a couple bottles of wine behind, but I didn’t get too worked up about it. I bared my 26 hours of travel fairly well and went through customs with a huge smile on my face. Everyone else seemed really grumpy, though, and I thought it was because they hate the travelling experience; however, I was made aware that I reeked like smoke and trash, so that may be it as well. I never realized how bad Georgia makes someone smell until I came back to a country that smelled nice. Every single thing I brought back smelled of Georgia, and I am pretty sure the entire Feist family judged me for the odor. But no matter how bad I smelled, at least I was back. I’m back….. I can’t believe it’s over. For better or worse…
I AM BACK!
p.s. I am gonna keep the blog going, but it won't all be about Georgia, though I am sure parallels will be made. So, if you wanna discontinue your following, I completely understand. But if you wanna know what I'm up to, stay tuned!