Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Familiar faces in foreign places

Some fisherman in Batumi

 I went back to Batumi this weekend but this time with about 35-40 other TLG participants. The weekend was essentially perfect. We got to explore a beautiful, exotic city but bumped into familiar faces the whole while. All of us had a lot of fun enjoying the beach and exchanging stories. It’s incredible how different each participants experience has been. Several people are living near Turkey with religious Muslim families, others are living in rustic villages with no bathrooms and bathing in a river, and some people are living on wealthy farms eating only the freshest meats and fruit. My simple life in Samtredia seemed boring in comparison. It was a real treat to hear everyone share funny anecdotes (and it didn’t hurt that everyone knew English).
The three of us Samtredia girls by the coast!  
Drinking some fermented black bread! (The Atkins diet is not big in Georgia).
 I spent my Saturday by enjoying a delicious breakfast with good friends, going to a post-soviet art museum, lying on the beach and even snuck into an international film festival. (We saw an odd Russian film about mourning, but it was still rather fun).
Outside the Batumi Art Museum

For dinner, we found this teeny, hole-in-the-wall Georgian restaurant and had the most amazing meal for just a few dollars. We couldn’t read the menu so we just asked the waitress (her name was Inga) to bring us the tastiest things on the menu. We had delicious osprey, khachapuri, the freshest salad known to mankind, sweet wine and cold beer. After our meal, our waitress pulled my friend Brennen out of his seat and proceeded to dance with him around the restaurant. So what did we do? We joined in! We danced until we sweat, and promised our new friends at the Imereti Restaurant that we’d come back on our next visit to Batumi.

Our new friends/dance partners from the restaurant

The rest of our night was spent on the beach chatting with all the other volunteers. It was really wonderful to discuss difficulties we’d been experiencing, and hear that others were experiencing similar things. All around the beach people were discussing religion, philosophy, cultural differences and just enjoying each other. A few of us even went swimming at 1:30 in the morning which was very fun (albeit cold).

Hollywood-esque sign

We even made a friend in our hotel room. A little mouse decided to join us in the bathroom, popping out and saying “gamarjobat!” while Melissa was taking a shower. He scurried under a bureau but I gave him some khachapuri to munch on and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.

Our view from the hotel

The entirety of Sunday was spent on the beach! (Nothing is better than sunbathing with good company). As lovely as Batumi was, I was excited to go back to Samtredia and tell my host family and new friends all about my weekend. That’s about when it hit me that Samtredia is starting to feel like home.
At a really cute cafe! They only had one thing on the menu: grilled cheese with tomato and mushroom and cheese soup.
Love that Black Sea Coast

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