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! 


  1. Emily,

    Pings in country run towards you because they expect you to feed them. ;-)

  2. Great post! Loved the pictures - nice to see your smiling face in them!

  3. I enjoy reading your posts a lot. Keep it up and have fun in Georgia!

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