Sunday, October 31, 2010

One Arch Trellis to the Famous Golden Arches

The content of this next post is two fold, last weekend I had the privilege of attending a traditional Georgian wedding, but I also experienced my new found sense of comfort within the seats of McDonald's in good ol' Kutaisi.  Trust me, no one was more shocked than myself to find that I truly enjoyed eating and hanging out at McDonald's - I always said I would never be 'that' American that resorted to eating greasy french fries and relishing in the m&m mcflurry in the midst of another culture; a culture in which clearly McDonald's did not belong.  But here's the thing, just when you don't think you're missing home or you need the comforts of home, McDonald's comes a calling.  Eating that ice cream, those french fries, the occasional chicken nugget, it somehow tasted just like home (even though at home I only go to McDonald's for the delicious iced coffee that I got severely addicted to last summer).  

Let me back up a bit and explain why so many TLG, peace corp and other English speakers/backpackers happen to go to McDonald's.  It's literally where the Marshutka/Bus Station is.  When we take a Marshutka from Samtredia, it drops us off smack dab in front of the entrance to McDonalds.  The first time Melissa and I went, we hopped off the Marshutka and headed to the nearest shopping mall (I was on a search for heels for the wedding, Melissa needed a present for Koko, her brother).  However, we had barely made it 20 feet, when a friend from orientation ran and caught up with us.  How did he know we were here? He saw us get off the Marshutka because he and a bunch of other TLG people were hanging out at Mickey D's and taking advantage of the free wireless.  Low and behold, we met and hung out with several good friends, as McDonald's seemed to be the hubbub of free wireless and fries.  Of course we wanted to join in the fun.  As we sat down, 15 minutes turned into several hours because more people just kept coming.  I randomly ran into my roommate from orientation, Katy (my favorite Brit in the world), and other TLGers just kept coming in! We also met a Fulbrighter who gave us tips on traveling to Armenia (a trip we're planning for this month) well as some Polish backpackers, who spoke English and had no idea where they were on the map of Kutaisi.  Finally, I met a Peace Corp guy who just happened to have his Wisconsin sweatshirt on...right after they sadly beat the Hawkeyes.  Yes, that was the first thing he said to me after I told him I was from Iowa... come on Hawks!! 

To sum up, Mickey D's has a new found special place in my heart.  It satisfies both my cravings for delicious ice cream and English speakers different from those that I speak to everyday in Samtredia.  Plus, you NEVER know who you'll meet there :) 

Well, in case any of you were wondering, I did not manage to find any shoes for the wedding in the shopping mall as they were ridiculously priced and often quite hideous... Georgian fashion and Emily are not a good combination.  Luckily, while browsing the market in Samtredia the next day (the day of the wedding) I managed to find some heels that were somewhat bearable.  If you know me, you know that I relish in cute flats, not cute heels.  My feet hate them, and heels seem to hate my feet.  Luckily, for the majority of the wedding party we were sitting, so it all worked out! My Saturday was devoted entirely to the wedding.  I woke up, went to the Bazar to find shoes and run other errands, then spent the afternoon getting ready.  Weddings are a very fancy occasion in Georgia, women break out the beautiful dresses, do their hair in a special updo, put on their best the pressure was on! After showering, drying, straightening my hair (first time in Georgia by the way...) and ironing my dress, I was ready to go! 

I went and met Marina, a fellow English teacher and we went to the wedding together.  Angela, the third English teacher at my school, invited me to her son's wedding, as well as several other teachers at the school and the director.  Sadly, we did not attend the wedding ceremony.  In Georgia, only a small number of guests actually attend the ceremony - usually at the most 20.  That ceremony is relatively short and ends with the bride and groom walking around the church with the priest several times wearing the marriage crowns.  Everyone else joins them for the huge party afterward.  Ours was held at a restaurant and was decorated beautifully.  We sat at 2 LONG tables that took up the entire place.  About 150 people attended, but there can be up to 400 people.  

Sitting with Marina (English teacher next to me), Khatuna (the director, blonde) and Tsitsana
At the party, we all took our seats and waited for the bride and groom and their family to enter.  They entered to great applause and cheering as they made their way to the head table.  After that, the eating begins.  I don't think I can explain to you how much food was on our table.  The plates were literally stacked on top of each other with food and we spent the next 4 hours eating.  Once I realized this was all we were going to be doing, I quickly slowed down and began to pace myself.  I was amazed at the sheer amount of food some of the women around me were able to eat though, I was full after like an hour! Luckily my mom had told me not to eat much during the day so I went there ready for food! 
This was just the beginning of the endless amounts of food from the evening!
While eating we listened to the Tamada (toast master) make many, many toasts.  There was a toast to Georgia, to appreciating women, to the couple's happiness, to love, to loved one's who have died before us, etc.  These toasts often went on for a looooong time, and it surprised me that people would go on about their time during these toasts.  In America, when someone gives a speech, everyone sits back and listens, but here, people just keep chatting.  I suppose that's due to the amount of time that the Tamada speaks.  I honestly found myself tuning him out, partly because I can't understand him, but because he seemed to always be speaking!! After the Tamada finally finished a toast, all the men would stand up and down their glass of wine.  Women, just sip theirs, as it's completely fine for men to get incredibly drunk, but inappropriate for women.  The men also pass along a drinking horn and take turns drinking from it.  At one point they passed it to me to look at, but when I asked if I could drink from it, they gave me a look of horror saying 'It's ONLY for men!!!!' Oh well.  

Students and staff on the dance floor!
After a while, the bride and groom came down for their first dance.  It was quite beautiful and I loved watching them dance away, but suddenly I realized that every woman around me was crying and saying 'lamazia gogo, lamazia gogo' (beautiful girl)  I felt strange that I couldn't start crying along with them, but thought it was sweet that they were so happy for the couple.  Soon, everyone else was joining in the dancing festivities.  Several of my students were there with me, so I had a blast dancing with the English teachers and my students.  I only had one minor creeper who told me that he was in love with me and that he wanted to marry me.  I politely declined, but then laughed when my director heard about this and came to yell over to yell at him basically saying 'What do you think you're doing crazy man? You have a wife, she's sitting at the other end of the table - go tell her you love her, not this poor American girl!!!'  Highlight of my night, right there! 
Some of my adorable students! 
Well, it has been raining for literally 24 hours now and it's cold and windy.  I've been curled up in my bed, relishing in the fact that I can't leave the house and using the time to read, catch up on emails, blogs, posting pictures and of course, watching movies online.  Here are two links to my facebook photo albums, if you haven't seen them already.  

For pictures of my trip to Tbilisi and my time in Samtredia:

For pictures from my trip to Mtskheta and Kakheti:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's all about who you meet!

First off, apologizes for the large gap in blog posts.  Life has been crazy the past 10 days.  We embarked on a 4 day adventure to Kakheti and returned home to a busy week, filled with several day trips to Kutaisi, and fun nights after school that including everything from running, to making peanut butter, watching movies and cooking omelettes.  Blogging just kept getting pushed back and back as I began to crave sleep more than anything else! However, I am back and ready to post more often than once in a blue moon! In an effort to catch you all up, here goes...

Last Wednesday night  (Oct.14), the Samtredia girls departed on yet another adventure, this time to Eastern Georgia for a visit to the Kakheti region, wine country.  We made a pit stop in Mtskheta, a small town outside of Tbilisi that was celebrating its 1000th birthday! There was a huge celebration and we just had to take part in! 

I think that we were all in agreement that this past weekend was completely dependent on who we met along the way, whether it was:
*the kind woman on the overnight train who showed us how to stow away our stuff to prevent it from getting stolen, and who later, at 5:30 am woke us up telling us that we were 5 minutes away from our stop!!! (if only there was a video feed so that you all could witness the frantic scramble of 4 sleepy girls attempting to get all of our things out the door without stepping on each other)
*the helpful manager of our first homestay who told us exactly how to continue along our travels (marshutka to restaurant, cab to cathedral, marshutka to Tbilisi) 
*the wonderful woman who pulled over on the side of the road as we thought we were hailing a marshutka and gave us a ride to Tbilisi from Mtskheta 
*the cab driver who drove us ALL over Tbilisi, trying to find the right bus station with our Marshutka to Telavi (there are 3 stations, in case any of you are wondering, and they are spread all over the city making a 5 Lari taxi ride turn into 15 Lari..) 
*our next Marshutka driver, who when he found out we didn't have a place to stay in Telavi, called his friend who has a homestay business, checked to see if it was available and then drove us straight there!
*our next amazing homestay mother who fed us tea, coffee, crumpets and made us delicious dinners and breakfasts, as well as calling us a personal taxi driver to take us to Signahe, the 'city of love' in Kakheti
*Mamoca, our taxi driver, who played the part of photographer, tour guide, taxi driver and waiter, and host as he brought us to his family vineyard and let us pick grapes in his vineyard

Watching the sunrise over Javari Cathedral in Mtskheta
In Mtskheta, we had a wonderful time strolling through this quaint town, lined with cobblestones.  We oooed and ahhhed over many singing and dancing competitions, watched young and talented men and women sword fight (well, the men sword fight and the women dance around them...) as we prayed pieces of their swords wouldn't fly and hit us in the eye, enjoyed lots of food, and of course, went about our usual sightseeing of old, amazing churches.  The day ended with a delicious meal in a cute cafe where we were able to hear the symphony orchestra/opera concert.  Luckily we made it out of our dinner in time to see the fireworks show that was literally right above our heads.  At the end of it, my neck hurt from looking so far back! 

After viewing the Javari Cathedral in the clouds the next morning and eating delicious lobios (beans), we made our way into Tbilisi and then on to Telavi, Kakheti's largest city.  Luckily we found an amazing homestay where we enjoyed dinner and wine together and then met up with several other TLGers in the area.  

Some talented Georgian dancers - check out the hats! 
Signaghe the next day was absolutely beautiful! As mentioned above, we had our own personal driver for the day, who was such a blessing.  He was so patient, even as we asked him to take picture after picture of us.  We went around touring the city, going in several churches and then eventually walking on the world's second largest wall, next to the Great Wall in China.  After stopping in a couple of cafe's and meeting some of Tara's TLG friends, we headed off to Bodbe Cathedral, where Saint Nino is buried.  We walked around the beautiful church and garden and then saw a sign for 'holy water.'  Do we want to go see the holy water? Of course! Little did we know that we were in for a 45 minute, downhill the mud.  Luckily I had on my trusty hiking boots.  Melissa, who was wearing shoes that were not so mud-friendly opted out.  Had we known what we were in for, I probably would have too.  When Tara, Michelle and I finally made it to the bottom, all of our legs were trembling from the fear of falling on the way down.  Sadly, there was a huge line to go into the holy water, so we were only able to peek inside.  Then we turned around and made the hike back up.  Surprisingly, it only took about 20 minutes...I think that's because Michelle was in front and she high tailed it up! We were all so out of breath, but definitely got our workout in for the day! 

Posing in front of the entrance to Signaghe
The wall around Signaghe - this was taken from one of the Watch Tower's that we climbed up!
We love grapes
Sunday was travel day, but it was also fairly relaxing.  We had a leisurely morning, chatting with other friends who happened to have the same marshutka driver as we did, and dropped them off as well.  We travled to Tbilisi by marshutka, caught a bus from Tbilisi to Kutaisi and then hopped a cab to Samtredia.  If only we would have flown somewhere and we would have covered all forms of transportation that weekend! 

School this week was both good and bad.  My frustration usually stems from my co-teacher being exhausted and taking it out on the kids.  It's understandable, as she works all afternoon and evening, plus all weekend tutoring students privately.  This is how teachers earn money here, because the teaching salaries are so low.  However, I grow tired of her taking it out on the students.  Yes, the students aren't listening or doing their work, but there are other ways of handling it.  I chatted with Nino about ways that we could help each other be less frustrated in the classroom and once she knew I was picking up on her exhaustion, she seemed to realize that her mood was affecting more than just herself.  Things turned around a bit, so I am hopeful for this next week.  

Well, it's Sunday evening, which means I should get lessons ready for the week.  I promise to blog more soon, (this time it's for real) as I feel like there are still many things to say, but little space to say them.  
Until next time...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Picking Grapes and Running from Pigs

This past weekend I was able to get some quality time in with my family as we traveled to the village where my father grew up, outside Chiatura.  We woke up EARLY Saturday morning and got the truck all loaded up.  By 6:30 am, we were on the road - packed tight in the car.  Cici, Lela and I were all in the back, and my father and his co-worker, Gako were sitting up front.  The first hour of the ride was pretty quiet, but as the sun came up and we got further into the mountains, one would hear many ooohs and ahhs as the scenery was just so beautiful.  When we arrived, we were happily greeted by Babua, Cici's grandfather, and her uncle.  Us girls, sat by the stove and nibbled on warm bread while trying to stay warm as the men all gathered supplies for our day of work.  Babua told us that is was incredibly muddy out at the vineyard, so we were all given boots to put on.  I was soooo grateful, because if I had worn my tennis shoes, I think I would have had to leave them there!! However, slopping through the mud, only made the day that more enjoyable! 

When we got to the vineyard, I felt like a kid in a candy store.  The views around us were literally breathtaking in a way that you can't not be happy.  I was so excited to start picking grapes! We were all given buckets, knives and a row to follow.  Black grapes first, then green.  Cici and I sloshed through the mud and started in a row together.  I think for the first half hour I had a smile permanently pasted on my face! Part of me couldn't believe that I was seriously in Georgia, in the country that's known as the birthplace of wine, taking part in such an old tradition.  I was once again reminded of how grateful I am for the opportunity to be taken in by such a wonderful family and share in their many traditions.  Well, maybe I was distracted by thinking about how happy I was, but all of a sudden, the knife slipped and I sliced my finger! I didn't really hurt too badly, but it sure bled a lot... bah! I held up my hand towards my father and he pointed to the truck and told made a running motion - as if to say, get to the truck and fast!! I smiled, to let him know that I was fine, I almost felt like I had to ease his nerves more than mine! However, I will admit that there was a voice in my head saying 'Ah, how am I going to clean this wound, my hands are so dirty, we don't have a lot of water - do we even have bandaids? What if I can't get the bleeding to stop? What if my dirty hands cause some sort of infection?' Luckily, we did have water, and plenty of bandaids - which was good as I bled through 3 of them... All was fine, my finger was still attached and I was ready to go back out and pick.  As I started to head back out, my father motioned as if to say, what do you think you're doing? You don't have to pick any more! I began to plead with him and say 'me minda, me minda!' (I want, I want) Finally, he conceded and let me keep picking.  I was once again a happy camper.  

After picking many, many, many grapes,  Cici and I headed back to relax a bit - which turned into me begging her to show me the village.  We walked all around and witnessed the most incredible views.  We also had a mini senior picture photo session.  Cici insisted on taking my picture in multiple locations and I, in turn, insisted on taking hers.  Our walk was one of my favorite moments from the weekend because we had a lovely time chatting about life, the future and what we both think about our own traditions.  We also, were chased by a pig.  Yes, that is correct, chased by a pig.  Meaning, it sought us out, and ran after us!! Cici saw a pretty forest scene and wanted to take my picture.  So, I hop up the hill and situate myself in a tree.  All of a sudden, I see something running out of the corner of my eye - then I hear Cici yell and take off running! As I realize that a pig is running near us, I figure, it's just a pig, what can it do? But all of a sudden, it picks up speed and starts heading for me! Following Cici's lead, I run down the hill toward a different farm.  Cici and I kept running and laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of this situation.  I mean, it's a pig, right? We found a bench down the hill a ways, and sat down to enjoy the view.  We heard many cars passing by, honking their horns, which meant that someone had just gotten married! We watched the cars for a bit and cheered for the couple.  Then, following the last car was guess who...THE PIG!!! It found us! Not kidding, once it saw us again, it took off running towards us.  We yelped, ran down the hill and the up the other side, hoping to trick it...luckily, we did.  We laughed again and started walking back to where we came from originally, when I realized that this story would for sure be in my blog and I needed a picture to go with it! We crept back to the area where we saw the pig and looked for had of course, disappeared.  We couldn't find it anywhere.  Who knows what happened.  Cici and I took many hits that evening during our feast as her father, grandfather and uncle could not believe we were afraid of a pig.  Oh well.  It made for an excellent story! 

As I just mentioned, we ended our lovely day with a large feast, and lots of ghvino (wine).  There were many toasts made, to past loved ones, to future happiness, Cici's uncle even toasted me telling me that I was beautiful and that he hoped I would find a husband (sooner rather than later) and have lots of beautiful children.  We went around and visited many other relatives and just kept eating and drinking.  By 10:00, Cici and I were pooped and we curled up under the covers for a good night's rest.  

Sunday was spent relaxing, playing lots of card games and eating more food.  I, sadly, sat back and watched Mikheli and the other men make ghvino all day long.  According to tradition, women are not allowed to help make wine because it will taint the wine and it will be a bad batch.  I so badly wanted to hop up there and squish those grapes, but alas, I could not.  I had fun documenting the experience though! 

We had such a wonderful time together!! Definitely good family bonding time! 
After a very short week at school, I am off on a short 4 day venture.  We're heading to Kakheti for a wine festival! First we're stopping in Mtskheta as the city is having it's 1000th birthday TOMORROW!! So we're quite excited to witness this experience.  It will be a long day tomorrow, as we're taking the midnight train and will arrive in the city at 6:00 in the morning - but it will be worth it!! 

muddy, muddy boots! 

LOVE the grapes :)

Taking a break!

Their vineyard

Adorable picture of Cici and her father :)

Babua's cleaning the wine cellar!

Removing the clay sealer so we can sample the wine

Dipping into the cellar!
For some reason - pictures took forever to load, so there's only a few - more will be on facebook soon! Off to go pack for the next adventure! Cheers to you all! 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Just a good day...

In an effort to post more often than once a week, here goes!! 

It is officially fall here now, leaves are beginning to turn colors and the house has gone from being stifling hot to a chilly cold in which I am now always wearing socks and lots of layers.  At night, I bundle up under 3 huge blankets, even pulling them over my head to keep my face warm.  I secretly love it though.  There's nothing better than cuddling under blankets and drinking hot chocolate while watching the Georgian version of American Idol before bed.  

Today has been an excellent day and there are still more things to look forward to! This morning, during my 5th grade class, we were reviewing the names of people in our family (grandmother, father, brother, etc.).  We then moved on to asking students if they have big or small families.  Here's a sample conversation that I had today with a little boy named Zura :

Me: Zura, Can you tell me about your family? 
Zura: My family is blue! I mean...big! 

Mind you, we JUST finished learning our colors.  It was just a very cute moment.  Which leads me to the next cute moment.  Like my friend Michelle, who has told us a lot about her 7th grade boyfriend, I discovered that I may have the makings for a 7th grade boyfriend as well! Today, at the end of my 7th grade class, this little boy Dato, ran up to my desk, gave me a card, and RAN out the door.  I opened it up to see what it was and inside I found an adorable card.  He had spelled out my name with this pink clay that he stuck to the paper and then placed hearts all around it.  Can you say, adorable??? All the students were gathering around, looking at it, some laughing, some ooing and ahhing.  I felt so loved :) He was so cute though - clearly a bit embarrassed, as he ran out of the room before I could even say thank you...Luckily, I managed to find him later and give him a proper thank you.  We'll see if this leads to other boyfriends or not...
Isn't it adorable???

After school, I came home to find a delicious meal on the table and Uncle Gia, with my fixed computer in tow.  I think I'm finally out of the woods with the computer problems.  I don't really know what else could go wrong!! We enjoyed a wonderful meal together, including several shots of vodka and some homemade 'Christmas' Vodka - made by Lela.  It really does taste like Christmas.  

Soon I will be heading out to meet the girls for a run around Samtredia.  This has sort of become a daily habit that I'm quickly getting addicted to.  We get all kinds of crazy looks and stares, but that hasn't stopped us yet!  Yesterday, we even had 2 men drive slowly by us, stop and open the door, while asking us if we wanted a ride.  I quickly yelled at them - Ara!!! In that tone of voice that says, 'are you crazy?? Do you really think we'd get in the car with you? Does it look like we want to drive somewhere right now?? We're dressed to run!!' I think they got the picture.  

After our run today, we're going to make peanut butter for the second time at my house - I'm soooo excited.  I don't think you all understand how delicious this nutty specialty is.  It makes my taste buds happy.  

Here's to a great run and a celebratory spoonful of peanut butter! 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Learning to Expect the Unexpected

Hello all! 

Well, once again I am on Cici's computer because mine is with the 'computer master' of Georgia! Gotta love technology.  I'm not sure what exactly the problem is this time, nor will I bor you with a drawn out explanation, but hopefully, I will have mine back at the end of the week and it will be fixed and ready to go! One thing that has been reinforced once again through this entire computer mess is how hospitable and helpful Georgians are.  Cici's Uncle Gia, who speaks decent English, and his wife have been so helpful and accommodating. Everytime we go over to their home, we're given coffee and chocolate, or like yesterday, a huge feast including wine, chadi (a corn based bread), sulguni (fancy Georgian cheese), fried chicken and delicious red tomatoes.  So yummy.  I will pause a moment though to explain a bit about toasting with wine. In America, wine is something to be drank over a period of time.  No one takes shots of wine, it's all about enjoying the glass for what it is.  Over here in Georgia, when we drink wine, we drink it in tall shot glasses, and you only drink when someone has made a toast.  Once a toaster toasts, then men down the entire glass (usually) and women drink about half of it.  Women, of course, aren't expected to be able to handle as much as men... So this was quite the experience for me! I found myself getting tipsy during our 3:00 lunch because there were just so many wonderful things to toast to, according to Gia and Mikheli! It was great to enjoy one another's company and chat with everyone.  Having Gia around was so helpful as I am normally reliant on Cici to translate (she wasn't around because she was participating in an English Competition in Kutaisi -- winner gets to study in America next year!!! I'm hoping she wins!!).  Anyway, the afternoon was well spent and hopefully when Gia visits later this week in Samtredia he will have a working computer in tow! 

This past weekend was quite exciting! It was crazy how everyone's plans kept changing before the weekend, though. This is what I was referring to in my blog title.  Early in the week I was planning on going to go on a field trip to the city of caves with Cici's classmates.  However, some boys got in trouble and the director post-poned the trip.  Then I thought I was going to go to Batumi with Tara to visit some of her friends from Orientation.  After that plan was made, Cici told me that we were actually going to the village this weekend to help her grandfather pick grapes and make wine for the year.  I was SO excited about this! So Batumi was out, and the village plans were made! Then, Thursday, the weatherman says it's going to rain for the next few days and Cici told me the village would be too muddy to go to.  At this point, I had also found out that Michelle and Melissa's school field trips had also been canceled and Tara's friends were staying in Tbilisi, rather than going to Batumi - so Thursday night we all decided to go to Tbilisi on Friday morning!! We had a great, great time in Tbilisi.  Some highlights included:

1. Meeting up with some of Tara's Georgian friends and having them show us around Tbilisi.  They took us up into the hill so we could look out and view the city from this strange little amusement park with a few rides and many funny places to take pictures.  

2. Eating a traditional Georgian meal, at a traditional Georgian restaurant with excellent live music and dancing.  Mmm I can still taste the Kinkali and the well as the pepper vodka shots (sounds strange, but was oddly delicious when combined with ludi (beer). 

3. Staying at a homestay owned by a woman named Dodo who liked to ask us where we had been everytime we showed back up at our room...while we proceeded to climb through a window from the kitchen because our room didn't have it's own door!! (well, it did, but we had to walk through another room to get there...) 

4. Thinking that we would be able to hop on the TLG trip to Kakheti (wine country) at 8:00 am on Saturday and discovering there was only room for 1 of us to go because we hadn't RSVP'd...we of course told Tara to go and enjoy her friends :) 

5. Walking around Tbilisi, a town that doesn't really wake up until 11:00, at 8:00 and realizing that NOTHING was open to eat or drink or even look at...

6. Finding an AMAZING ice cream and coffee shop at 8:30 am, that randomly happened to be open and hanging out there for over an hour, drinking iced coffee, sampling lots of ice cream, chatting with the woman who was working and then eating our own ice cream for breakfast! 

7. Walking around Tbilisi, exploring the city and eventually settling in a park where we found a lovely spot to lay in the sun and relax...

8. Being told by the Tbilisi police that you can't lay in the grass...apparently taking advantage of nature is illegal here...

9. Hiking up to a fortress on a hill and viewing the city from the top.  It was absolutely beautiful and I did it all in my thankful I didn't wear the flip flops.  You should have seen some of the 'stairs' I climbed up - more like piles of rocks that I prayed wouldn't tumble underneath me! It was totally worth it though, once I made it to the top! 

10. Splurging on a DELICIOUS Sushi dinner on Rustaveli Street.  Michelle had made it clear that we weren't going home alive if we didn't get sushi for dinner sometime this weekend.  As she kept talking about it, I began to crave it as well! It was a bit expensive, but competely worth it.  We have all grown a bit tired of the sheer amount of bread and cheese and other Georgian food, so the break from it was well deserved! 

11. Enjoying the train both from Samtredia to Tbilisi and back.  Although, the train ride back home Sunday was much nicer and faster and cleaner...Only took us 4 hours instead of 5 and a half! 

12. Being greeted and welcomed home as I walked through the gate to my house Sunday night.  It was so nice to feel missed by my family and to realize that I, too, had missed them.  Drinking tea and catching up that night with Cici, Lela and Mikheli was so much fun! We also found out that Mikheli's schedule was changed to an overnight shift every 3 days instead of every 2, so he'll be home more often now!!  

Well, as you can see, the weekend was filled with lots of eating and great fellowship among us Samtredia girls and other TLG friends - plus some new Georgian friends as well! School is still going well.  I taught my 6th graders Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes yesterday when I realized they didn't know their body parts.  It was great! We then played Simon Says.  Hopefully they will remember everything tomorrow when I have them again! That seems to be the greatest challenge...getting the students to actually study at home and retain what we learn in class.  

Well, maybe this week a goal of mine will be to post more often so that my posts aren't SO LONG!! Thanks for sticking through with me again through this one.  As of right now, we're planning to head to the village again this weekend...we'll see if it sticks!! 

Love to you all!