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...


  1. Emily add me on Facebook I'm from Georgia :)

  2. Em, having a blast as always!!! What fun adventures!

    your seriously envious cuz, Rachel

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