Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Things I'll Miss

გამარჯობა მეგობარები!

Hello friends!

In my last post I described some of the things I’m happily leaving here in Georgia when I start to make the trek home in a few days (!).  But, it turns out that I’m going to miss a lot more than I had ever imagined from the past four months:

How cheap everything is: literally a bottle of water is like 80 cents USD; can’t beat that price.  The value of an American dollar can go far here so it’s been nice being able to afford almost whatever I want.

Grape Lemonade: Georgians have their version of pop/soda called Lemonade (pronounced like "leemonaday," not like the English pronounciation).  They come in a variety of cool flavors such as grape, pear, lemon, tarragon, peach, orange, and cream.  The grape flavor is my favorite followed closely by the minty tarragon flavor.  I’ll have to find a Russian store or something that might carry these in the States.

Mountains outside my window: I’ve never lived near mountains before Georgia, and I think it’s actually disappointing.  They are so beautiful!!!  It’s been amazing to see them every day from my window, on the walk to/from school and on marshrutka rides (Georgia’s pretty mountainous).  They are even more awesome when they are snow-capped!

There was snow on the mountains at least!

Donkeys: One of the main animals in the village and highly underrated in terms of overall animal cuteness.  I’m going to miss seeing them pull carts along the road.  I mean please, look at this Google image of a baby donkey and its mother:

Daily Turkish coffee with Tamila: It’s become this ritual between the two of us to have coffee together once a day.  It might be in the morning, or later in the afternoon after lunch (usually our neighbors Maia and Nino join for the afternoon).  Usually I take the task of grinding the beans and Tamila watches over it on the stove.  It’s a nice break for the two of us that I’ll miss.

Also, the Turkish coffee: never had it before coming here, but it’s been a good way to satisfy my caffeine addiction in lieu of my normal American coffee and I can make it back in the States if anyone is curious about it!

Khinkali: my favorite Georgian food.  Little dumplings filled with meat or potatoes or mushrooms (!).  I mean, what’s not to like!?  I’ll have to find a recipe online so that everyone back home can get a little taste, but I think I’ll have to work on my dough gathering technique first.

Adjarian Khachapuri: I’ve only had it twice during my whole time here, but I think it’s the best khachapuri.  The addition of the egg just adds a special taste to it.  Again, I’ll have to find a recipe online!

Let’s face it; I’m probably going to miss all Georgian food in general: While Georgian food and my digestive system have had a love-hate relationship this whole time, I think I’m seriously going to miss the food, especially cooked by hand by a Georgian woman.  Basically I’ve been eating home-grown, and hand-made organic food for four months, which is awesome.

Hanging out with 12 year old Luka: Chemi kartveli dzma (My Georgian brother) can literally make a game out of anything.  Have a paper ball?  We’ll play soccer and rugby in the living room with our house slippers as goal posts.  Have some Backgammon pieces?  We’ll shoot those across the living room and then see how many we can hold in one hand.  A pair of dice?  We’ll take turns spinning them to see how long each one lasts.  Might be considered boring in other places, but with a lack of toys in general you have to figure out something.  His imagination is awesome and fun to be around and reminds me that you can (and should) have fun without watching TV or playing video games all the time.

The friendliness and kindness of Georgians: Before I came here I read blogs about people’s experiences with these hospitable people, but I think it’s hard to believe until you are actually here.  Georgian society is largely based on helping out your neighbor if they need anything, and I’ve seen examples of that every day both big and small.  It’s not every day in the States that people will give you a seat in a marshrutka rented out by the National Movement party to take you to Tbilisi for free, while giving you cookies and candy the whole way there.  But things like that happen here.  People are kind enough to bring you extra food they made, are happy to try and talk to you in English, to help you find the right marshrutka at the overwhelming bus stops and are willing to walk you all the way back to the hostel when you are lost.  Definitely a big cultural difference I’ve noticed while being here.

My students:  They may not study enough or hardly ever do their homework, but the students have taught me so much over the past four months about Georgian culture and teaching in general.  They’re always so eager to interact with me and always want to say “Hello!”  The young first graders are learning so much so fast, and I am able to have full on conversations with some of the older students I teach.  It’s been really great to teach them English and I hope they will want to continue learning English after I’m gone.

And I think it really goes without saying that I’m going to miss my host family:  I seriously lucked out with this bunch.  Seriously.  They have treated me like family since I first stepped out of the car and go above and beyond anything I had ever imagined from living with a host family.  They’ve been super accommodating and understanding especially during those moments when the language barrier has been frustrating.  We’ve learned so much from each other just by trying to piece things together with the help from a Georgian-English dictionary.  We’ve already exchanged Skype names and they’ve made me promise that I’ll visit them again, so I think the past four months have been great for all of us.

Again, there is probably so much more I’ll miss about the life I’ve created here but a lot of that may become more recognizable in the coming weeks and months when I’m back home in America.  Only 4 more days!