Monday, July 4, 2011

Weekend in Kutaisi

By the end of the first week, I was so ready to get the heck out of my town, I asked my students to come in early for me to finish on time and catch a marshrutka (taxi/mini bus) out of town. They did! My assistant released me just before 1pm as the taxi was due to leave at 1. It left at 1:30. GMT (Georgian Maybe Time, maybe it will leave on time, maybe it won't!).

Here's the thing, whenever I leave the house, it's as if I'm making celebrity appearances. People stare and gawk all the time! By this time, I hadn't been anywhere or walked anywhere by myself. I always had a friend or somebody with me.
My assistant and I arrived at the rank, which is across the road from my work, she introduced me to everybody. Lot's of 'gamarjobats' (hello). They showed us to my marshrutka, filthy as hell! I found a seat and occupied it. An older woman, came and squeezed right next to me, even though there were tons of other vacant seats. She talked to her friends about me and they all started playing with my hair. I took my phone out and completely ignored them. We left for Kutaisi.
I suffer from motion (car) sickness but I never throw up, thankfully! Here, the thought of being on the road makes me sick! Literally! 3hrs later, I arrived in Kutaisi, called Josh, who met up with me at Mc Donald's. I had coke Zero! It was more expensive than in South Africa and tasted weird. I couldn't finish the can, I threw it away.
We took a 30 Lari (R1.20) city bus and got off at the centre of town. That's when the walking began! We went to our home stay (kinda like a guest house) which was up a steep hill. It was scorching hot! I left my stuff there and we walked the city. Josh took me to some cool places! We had a great time!
I'd only ever talked to him on Facebook and over the phone but that was enough for us, we don't have the luxury of time to get to know people really slowly here before you do anything with them. That's not a below the belt statement, GET YOUR MIND OUT THE GUTTER!

I loved everything I saw, Josh's a great 'tour guide' and a cool guy all in all. Very easy going. We saw an old soviet era theatre, 'creepy!', his school, some of his students, and just about everything in the city centre, it's a small town, so. They've a nice park with cool lighting at night.
Around 9pm. We went to a cool, artistic, french style, restaurant with live music for dinner. I had pork, he had pizza. I enjoyed my meal. It was 10 Lari (R40). My friends contacted me. They were finally in town!
We met up with them at another restaurant/bar which we will call the Fish bar. Really nice as well! There were 4 guys and myself. 2 of them frm Kutaisi, 2 frm just outside town, and myself. Drinking!
Crazy, funny, awkward conversation, 'hello! There's a girl here!'
Harriet left Akhaltsikhe (my town) at 6 and should have arrived at 10 or so. He marshrutka broke down. Then she was stuck in traffic! Endless problems. I felt badly for her. The placed closed at 12 midnight. Our curfew at the homestay was 1am. We walked home, up the steep hill, out of breath, and whew! We arrived! Harriet called not too long thereafter, Josh and I took a cab {5Lari (R20)} to Mc donald's where she was waiting for us.
Back to the house, she and I shared a room. Or atleast were supposed to, until we didn't and I ended up, due to unforeseen circumstances, sleeping in the guy's room and Matt ended up sleeping in the room that was meant to be mine. I loved the guy's room bed more, for the record.

The next day, saturday, 25th June.
More walking! We went to some restaurant for breakfast. I had a pork kebab, some had khachapuri, the cheese bread, and some salads. Salad here comprises peeled cucumber and tomato, chopped in huge pieces with lots of salt!
Just after branch, Michelle and Caleb arrived (from batumi) we met them and walked around the city, we went to the mall! My first mall experience in Georgia! There aren't that many here! Mall was ok, the guys seemed bored by the idea of going to the mall, you know how they can be! Then we went to a bazaar, it's a market with just about anything you can think of. From fruit, vege, meat, like the whole cow, or whatever you may want really, laptops, the works!
Then we went to a church up the hill, not to far from where we were staying. Fergus, our resident Brit, who is based in kutaisi, gave us a lift from his host brother's car. There were 7 or 8 of us in the car, which I nothing really cos I believe when Taylor, one of our group members went to a wedding, there were like 12 or 16 of them in a private car. Go figure!

The church was nice, it's a 4th century church that's being renovated whose name has slipped my mind.
From there, we walked back to the home stay while some drove to Gelati, another church, monastery, probably even castle combination. I believe it's beautiful.
Clint arrived frm Akhalkalaki.
We went to the theme park, hung out a bit, had some snacks. I drank about. Litre of water. I must have drank 10 litres of water or more during my stay there, it was sooo hot. We rode a Gondola or whatever, to the centre of town. Dunno what that thing's called but it's in my FaceBook pics. Let me know what it is! 50Tetri (R2). I was hoping it would be scary and exciting. It was okay, 6 or so people in, flying over the river, under lock and key. Very safe.



Dinner at 'the Wood bar'!

We had khinkali (the meat dumplings), hot chips (french fries), pork (or something) kebab, 'salad' lots of food! Most of it went to waste. We then met up with the rest of the gang. Those that had gone to Gelati. While at this restaurant, I went to the ladies. On my way back, one of the restaurant staff, was waiting for me at the counter, with his camera aimed straight at the bathroom door. As soon as I walked out, he took a shot of me! How rude! Couldn't he ask?
We went to a free street concert. Rock concert! Fun times! Michelle and I were such groupies! We went to the front and met the performers, they gave me their myspace page (as you do to a groupie, I guess). We took tons of pics.

Later on, we walked to some restaurant where we hung out and drank until I was half asleep.
Matt, Harriet and I walked home. Nigel came in just after us. It was 1am. I believe Michelle and Caleb arrived about 30mins thereafter. Josh left us in the afternoon to freshen up and eat. He wasn't feeling too good. That was the last we saw him.
Sunday, 26th
Josh felt worse than the previous day. He couldn't join us. I missed him! We took the bus to Mc donald's, had breakfast there. Harriet and I had to leave because the last marshrutka to our town leaves at 1:40. Yup, taxis have time tables here! Kind of organised for GE. My seat was much more comfy than the one to Kutaisi! I slept most of the trip. I always have to close my eyes to reduce motion sickness.
I got so sun burnt! Nothing to blog about! We arrived 4 hrs later! My assistant met us at the rank and got us a lift to our respective homes.