Saturday, November 12, 2011

Excuse me, where's the Embassy?

I took an 11 o'clock Marshrutka from Akhaltsikhe to Tbilisi. It's a  hour ride. I was hoping to quickly go to the embassy where I'd make some last minute enquiries before my Visa application appointment the next day.

The ride was, in the words of Tina Turner Nice and Easy. No stares, not weirdness, whew! We stopped halfway for toilet and smoke break. It turned out everybody spoke some English. We all formed a circle and had a nice chat in the sun. Then back on the road. I, being the blondie that I am, forgot to withdraw money for the marshrutka (taxi), i asked the driver in my broken Georgian if he could let me run to the ATM in Tbilis and draw the fare. He agreed.

When we got to Tbilisi, I asked around where the my bank's ATM was, the lady asked me where I wanted to go. I told her I needed an ATM, she was like, I can't help you! Where do you need (Atleast I think that's what she was saying). I asked her if she spoke Russian, very excited, she said yes! Good think I just downloaded a translator on my blackberry, I can just tranlate what I want to say into Georgian and we'll be good to go. NOPE! The phone froze, I had to take out the battery and restart. That takes its own time. I thanked the lady and let her go. On to the next. They told me the ATM was upstairs inside the metro station. Makes sense! I ran up the stairs and asked a lady up there, she said, sorry, no ATM here and directed me elsewhere. She said it was 10minutes away. 10 minutes away in Georgian, doesn't mean the same in English just FYI. I went back that way. By then I had even forgotten where the marshruka was with my bags. And my apples. Fortunately, the driver saw me running around like a headless chicken. I told him I couldn't find the ATM, he pointed me to the ten minute direction and told me to take my time, he would be there for an hour. (I think that's what he said). I ran across the street, trying to remember which one is left and right in Georgian. I asked 3more people before I found the ATM, about 3minutes away. Thank Goodness! I paid the driver and gave him a tip for his kindness and patience.

I took the metro to my friend, D's place. I arrived there at 3pm, planned to just leave my bags and rush for the embassy. She was cooking. She told me she was almost done, to wait for her and we'd go together. She told me she'd be done in ten minutes. She finished cooking, dished up, we ate paap and cabbage and fish curry. It was divine! As usual, I was starving as I had just travelled and don't eat when I travel cos of my motion sickness. An hour later, I told her that I think I had to leave. It was getting late and the embassy was closing at 5. She went, Do you think you will make it there on time? Uhm, not at this rate! She was ready, but just needed to take her meds, and to clean the house, and to do the dishes and to take pampers for the baby and and and.... Oh Lord! We finaly left at 4:20. Then she remembered that her friend had told her the embassy moved. I had to google it, find the number and call the embassy and hope to talk to someone that speaks Englis, that she would understand my English, and that she would know where the new location was. I got the new address, searched for it on google maps. It was 5km from where we were, D didn't know how to get there, she didn't know which bus to take either. I called a friend in Akhaltsikhe, she told me the best thing to do would be to take a cab. D said, cabs are expensive, there has to be a bus there. The thing with buses here, people only pay when there's an inspector in sight, otherwise free rides all day long! Time was running out, D wanted to call her friend and ask which bus we should take, when she found out she forgot her cell in her bag at home. Which meant, her running back.I said, you know what? Why don't you stay behind? I'll see you when I come back! I had 30mins to get to the embassy.

I took a cab, he seemed to know there street, we just had to find the number. The place was FAR! We found the street and the number. I gave the cab driver 50 GEL (R200), he told me he didn't have change. The ride was 5GEL. I told him that's all I had, the loose change I had wasn't enough. He could see I was in a hury. He told me  this was a problem, because he didn't have change. He spoke Russian, I spoke to him in broken Georgian.Eventually, he stopped trying to be cheap and gave me my change. You don't charge someone 5 bucks and keep the change from 50 bucks, I'm sorry! It sure looked like an embassy, only thing is, that's not what was written outside!
Me: Excuse me, where's the embassy?
Security: 'Down the street, turn right- --
Me: OMG!
The cab had just left, and I needed to walk some more, what's this a joke? I'm late God damn it!
Security: Lady, calm down! It's about 200 metres from here

Yup! He totally told me to calm down!
I ran down the street, and followed the directions. Passed one embassy, asked for directions, they told me to go further up. Great! When I got there, all I could see was the security's office, no other buildings were in sight, He told me to get to the end of the driveway and I'd find the embassy right at the end. Oh my goodness! I ran some more, I just wanted to make it there before they closed, but the small voice in my head told me I was kidding myself, I should just see where it is for my appointment the next day. Running...running,,,running.... I saw signage on the way as well, which helped. I got to the end, there was a T-Junction, no more signage! I didn't know whether to turn left or right. Infront of me was a swimming pool. I chose left, ran some more, Saw ladies with handbags going the opposite direction. They seemed happy! I thought, great, these ladies work at the embassy and are happy to be going home, I missed it! I kept running. Ahead of me, I saw the embassy!

There were people standing outside with the security guards.I thought oh no, they are begging to be let in. I finally arrived and told the guard who spoke some English what I needed, he told me to wait my turn. Hallelujah! They were still open! Whew!

Of course, it turned out they need more documentation from me, the 8 hour trip there was just to enquire, they told me to call their call centre to make another booking and to not even bother going there the next day for my appointment with insufficient documents.

I took a bus back to D's. The trip back was smooth. She wasn't home! I had to stand outside and wait for her in the rain. I opted to go for a walk to the shops. That's when I bumped into a hot guy from their church. I'd met him at the choir practice before. He played the key board. And he's good! He walked me to the shop and spoke Georgian for me. He's from Africa and speaks French. He walked me back to the house and we chatted a bit on FB