Sunday, July 10, 2011

Food please! gees!

Tuesday, 5 July
No breakfast for me at the house, I'm not sure why. I bought something frm the store on my way. 2 'fat cakes'. One with vienna (hot dog) and one with potatoes inside.
It's Pru, Mbasa and Bongi's birthday. That's my sis, nephew/brother and my friend frm SA.
I called them on my way to work and couldn't get hold of Pru.
Lunchtime, 3 students showed up for class, the schedule has been changed and they're not familiar with their new one, that's why. We postponed that class for later.
That left me with a long s lunch break. My assistant, Tiko, took me home. My host sister looked like she just saw a ghost when I walked in. Of course, she had the key on the lock, so I couldn't use mine, I had to ring the bell. All in a day's work!
I took a nap, in an hour's time, Tiko called from outside. I was so hungry! I could smell food in the house, but nobody offered it to me as they usually call me to the dining table for meals. Instead when I was on my way out, Shorena, my host sis, introduced me to her family. Then bade me farewell on my empty stomach. I did one more class and was done for the day. On my way home, I bought some junk food. The way home passes by Lia's work. She asked what I had bought and subsequently grabbed my plastic and emptied it to see. She was so concerned that I'd bought food. And so much food lol, pms! She asked why, I told her I was hungry, and I didn't get any food at home. She felt really bad. She may have called shorena while I was walking home. The key was in the lock, I had to ring the bell again.
I got home, locked myself up in my room, stuffed myself silly with junk and updated my blog.
Shorena came by about an hour later Broooooooooookkkkk! I hate how she says my name! No answer! She knocked or banged the door and tried to let herself in, but I'd locked frm inside. She knocked and knocked on the glass of the door. It was really loud. She went vaime deda (aka omg). Brooooooooookkkkk! No answer. I took a snapshot of her.
30minutes later my colleagues and students picked me up! We went to Uraveli for a picnic. I didn't think about this when I stuffed my face up with junk!
More on that on the next entry, I've to get ready for work

Gaumarjos! (Cheers)

Friday, 1st July
I finished work early, got a lift home, it was soooo hot! I took a nap. Clint called me after he got up, he had also taken a 'nap'. I got on the phone with Michelle, tried to walk to Tyna's apartment. Got lost cos I wasn't paying attention to the road. I eventually made it because you can't exactly get lost here, the town's very small. Tyna was still asleep, we didn't want to disturb her, so we stood outside and whispered. (She came home from work and took a nap herself because we all had a late night the night before). Eventually, she came out and was like, why are you guys whispering? In her Polish accent:).
Cut to when Harriet came over to join us, we bought some drinks and hung out at the apartment. Played some of my music frm the iPod with the Shox speaker and danced the night away, Akhaltsikhe style!
Harriet's family sent a car to take her home, I caught a lift with them at 10 and called it a day.

Saturday, 2 July
My host sister is weird and makes me feel uncomfortable whenever she's at the house. She's always at the house. I left for the office to do some work, walked in the scorching heat all to find out they leave the office at 1 on Saturdays, I got there at 2.
Harriet called and said to meet up at the park at 2:30. I'd to walk some more and head for the park this time where I met up with Clintyna. (Got it? Clint and Martyna!)
Harriet's family took us to Saphara the next day. This is a church and monastery on a mountain about 20 km frm Akhaltsikhe. They picked us up in a police van, 3kids, the driver and Harriet were already in the car when they picked Clint, Tyna and I up. It was a 4X4. Overload! All in a day's work here!
We saw Giorgi's car outside. But never saw them in, and it's such a small place. Oh well. The place is ok, it's another church and another monastery in Georgia. I must say I'm kinda fascinated by the monks. They look rather cool in those outfits!
We drank some really nice cold water that I think comes frm a well somewhere. We hiked up a small hill to get to a small building on the top. It has an unusually small door, and murals around the walls. They look ancient to. We left. It started raining. The route to this place is an experience on it's own. The road is bad, gravel with rocks and we almost rolled over with our car on our way there. It was kind of scary. I cringed just thinking about driving back home. We made it safely.
Clintyna and I were dropped off at mine for lunch. Iajob (my host bro) was home. We ate and he opened this cupboard I didn't know extisted and whooped out 4 bottles of different types of alc, Beer, wine, cognac and vodka. Gaumarjos! (Cheers). We ate and drank and talked and and and. Until Harriet came back to join us.
We walked to the flat and hung out till it was time to go home. The next day, Harriet's family wanted to take us to an Observatory.
Sunday, 3 July
Apparently Harriet's family changed their mind about taking us to the observatory, they took her to the village to meet the grandparents. The plan was to go to my host family's village thereafter and since that was cancelled, Clintyna came over, Iakob drove us to the village. Him and Clint went hunting, with big guns and a dog, apparently there was some horse - riding in the field.
Tyna and I ate with Lia, my official host mother whom I adore! She speaks English as well - self taught! She made Khachapuri for us (chese bread). I like how she makes it, so good times! We went for a walk to a, wait for it! Church! The walk lasted for 2minutes and a black bmw stopped for us, openned the doors and signalled for us to get in. We obliged. He drove us to the church and dropped us there. Shorena, my host sister was with us. We took some pics, and walked back. On our way back, we saw this familiar looking boy on a toy scooter. It was Harriet's host brother! It so happened that they had come to the same village we did!
We went to say hi and ended up staying for 2hrs. Nice people who don't speak any English. They spoke some Russian, so does Tyna, so she did what she does best,and translated for us until I almost fell asleep frm sitting on the cheer and maintaining a permanent smile while nobody really talked to me.
I asked to leave because Lia must be wondering where we were. Lia had been cooking the entire time. We got back to more food! And alcohol, host Daddy was home frm work as well.
Gaumarjos! He asked me to bring me a tiger when I come back frm holiday in SA. He said money's not an issue, he'll pay for it! LoL, I guess I'll just grab him one frm my backyard then and since they're so nice to me, he doesn't even have to pay for it.
Gotcha, my 20 year old host brother and his friends joined us for one or 2 toasts aka glasses of wine, and this boy, Nika, asked to dance with me. He made me do Georgian dance, which of course I've never danced before. It was interesting to say the least.
I later disappeared with the boys, they asked me to go on a walk with them in the car. So walk, we did! To the city, parked the car and walked some more, on foot this time in the park. It was packed! Everyone was snacking on sunflower seeds. Hate em! Nika bought me water and coke zero, sweet! We exchanged numbers, he lives in Tbilisi and said to hit me up whenever I'm in the city, he'll take me for a ride on his motor bike. I look forward to that! He speaks some English, in case you're wondering how I knew he said what he said.
Nika begged for a kiss! From me! And since I don't kiss and tell...
We drove back to the village, as soon as we entered the city, I got an opportunity to drive a left handed car, the bmw!
We all went to our respective homes.

Monday, July 04, 2011

New friends and a Supra

I walked to work! 30 mins! What's shocking is the fact that they let me! Because they're convinced that we foreigners cannot do anything for ourselves. I've been walking to and from work since the beginning of last week! Success! It's very hot though.

Martyna and I have been hanging out everyday, since we met last Monday. She stays in an apartment by herself. It's a cool hangout. She's welcome at my place and my family loves here, so we're sorted.
I met up with Meghan, an american TLG teacher who was based in this area for 8 or ten mnths. She left last week though. Her contract has come to an end. She did make time for me just before she did, which was nice of her. It was Meghan, Teona (Martyna's Georgian friend who speaks English), and I. Harriet couldn't join us, she went for a walk with her family. We went to the pizzeria and had 2 pizza's. One meat and one chicken. Delicious! We were the only customers there for the almost 4hrs we were there. Tyna and I walked Teona home, found out she stays in the same building as Harriet, I called Harriet to come out and meet her, done! Tyna walked me home, we hung out at the street corner at like 11 pm. We finally parted. I slept around midnight.
Thursday, 30 June.
Month end! First thing in the morning, I logged on to my internet banking to try and do what grown ups do mnth end. Pay my bills! I blocked my login details:(
I won't bore you with the details but that set the tone for the day. I walked to work, spent a lot of time on email with people in South Africa trying to sort my banking issues out, to no avail! Everyone I talked to that day was having a day from hell!
At 5, I finished work, Tyna was waiting for me outside with Teona and Manuk, the guy that's going to get my pc fixed. I gave it to him and the girls and I walked home. I vented all the way to the flat, f this, f that, whew! Works everytime!

Teona went back to the office, Tyna and I went to her place, Clint arrived an hour later or so, we bough beers and the night officially began. 2Litres of beer, I'd never seen any such a thing before! Teona and Giorgi came by. Giorgi drove us to his in-law's house in the village for a supra (feast with alcohol and lots of toasts). We met the in laws. One of the guys was super hot! Here's the thing about Georgians. Especially the men: they almost always look ten yrs older than they are!
This guy's so my type. They called him the black son, cos he's much darker. I was like, I can roll with that, black guy, and black girl, done!

We ate, and toasted away. They tried to force me to drink as they always do, all over the world. I politely declined.
I found out that the cute guy is 17. SEVENTEEN! I thought he was in his late twenties atleast! Oh well, there goes that idea!
I did take a picture with him though.

We left the house, because I was sleepy and Teona needed to go home. We dropped her off and Giorgi drunken drove us around town, pumped some music up and I was alive again:).
He took us to the castle again, this time it was 11pm and closed. We hung around for 3seconds took one or 6 pics and off we went. Parked the car outside Tyna's and walked to the store. The stores here sell groceries, snacks, bakery stuff and alcohol! All of them! We stocked up on alc and walked back to the flat where we listened to Clint's nice music and just chilled.
Around 2am, Giorgi took me home, I slept at 3am.


Monday, 27 June
Back to work! I handed out the test, blah blah blah. I had my 3hr lunch break, got a call, super excited, as he always is! 'Hey Brook! I'm in Akhaltsikhe! Were are you?' He was at the rank, and I was at the store near the rank. He came to the store, with a blonde chick. Martyna. She's Polish and works here in Akhaltsikhe and SPEAKS ENGLISH! Bonus points! I told her she's my new best friend, she agreed. Now we're best friends cos we can actually communicate with one another and understand each other. Which is vital! She's been here for 3 months and will stay here until the end of the year.

My assistant, Lia, invited Clint and martyna to the office for coffee, I had Khachapuri (chese bread for lunch. I actually ordered lobiani, the bean bread. But oh well! It's Georgia, you take what you can get!). My other assistant, Tiko took us to Harriet's work, upon my request. We interrupted her class, we knew the students would love it! Talked to them for half a minute and drove off! Clint left. He had class in an hour. Martyna and I went out for drinks, I did have 2more hrs to kill after all. We went to the Lover's restaurant, hung out upstairs and had apple juice and water:). 5.50 Lari (R22). When you order fruit juice at some restaurant, you get a litre of what looks like liqui fruit and a glass. That's what we had.
Tyna walked me back to the office and was waiting for me at reception at 5 when I finished work. We called Harriet, she joined us for dinner 30minutes later at a restaurant down the road frm the police station (my office). We had khinkali (the meat dumplings), and we had cheese dumplings, forgot what they're called, kebab, very salty mushrooms and not to be left out, the salad!
The place was nice, not too fancy, just basic, with a Turkish (squat) toilet and 2friendly waiters who have become friend of Tyna's. Some guys in table one, bought us a nip of cognac. We didn't know whether accepting it would mean we were not their girlfriends and had to start making wedding arrangements and we didn't want to be impolite. Things are very different here! They left while we were brainstorming whether to accept it or not. The girls had a tot each and the rest was left behind. By the way a doggy bag is a frowned upon concept here! When you order you get tons of food and may not leave with your left overs, I think they throw them away.
We walked to Rabat, the old castle and church and museum. It was a steep-ish hike. I had the wrong shoes, as I had just came back frm work but I manned up and did it!
I got home around ten/eleven pm.

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.

Hello My Teacher!

We teach Georgian police officers English. Initially, I was told I'd have a class every other day for an hour and a half, 11:00 - 12:30. I wasn't to happy with that as it meant so much free time.
I caught a lift with my host brother to the police station an hour earlier in order to prep a bit.
I saw the boss whom I'd been introduced to before, he doesn't speak English, but is a very nice guy. I was introduced to my assistant and interpreter who hardly speaks english. The boss, she and I had a small meeting. The boss soon picked up that she won't be very useful, he wrote me on google translate and asked if I wanted her replaced. I said I'd like to give her a chance first then decide. Long story short, she's been replaced as from beginning of this work. She's still my friend though cos she's genuinely nice.
I had 2 classes on Monday. They went very well. My students are all cool and eager to learn, which is always a plus. We have a curriculum and books and notes and stuff to equip and guide us as teachers. I use all of those.
Most of the week, I finished at 7:30, my last class was at 6pm and I'd have a break of 3 or 4hourse during the day. So not cool. The 6pm group has since requested to be moved to my long break gaps and I was glad to agree. I now don't work later than 5pm.
Contrary to what I'd been told, I've 4 groups of about 23/25 students each, 2 - 3 classes per day, every single day. I'm happy about that because my time is occupied. I've got one class on Friday at 3:30. Which sucks because I can't go anywhere until then. I talked to my students last week and they came in at 11 for their test which is all we do on thursday and Friday. I then had the rest of the day and the weekend for myself.
This Friday, today, obviously, I had no classes at all. I actually had to beg for my one group to come and write their test today, in order for them not to be left behind next week when the other groups start the next module. My request was accepted and we wrote a test this morning at 11. I was free as a dove by 12:30 again.
The first module and test went very well, the marks were very good, B's and A's. See, here's the thing, my students are friends and therefore, they help each other during tests. That's normal here. And you dare not come between friends!