Monday, December 6, 2010

Marshutka Madness

Sweet statue in Batumi. (I'm hoping it represents gay rights)
In just two weeks the fall semester of school will be over and with that means many TLG volunteers will be saying “nakhvamdis” (goodbye) to Georgia. In an effort to spend one more fun weekend with friends, many volunteers from my orientation decided to meet up in Batumi.

Our weekend was quite lovely. It was so nice to catch up with good friends from orientation and to just sit on the beach and chat. Plus, it didn’t hurt that there was a wine special going on in town (buy three get one free!) We even had our own driver on Saturday night. He took us everywhere we wanted to go (and for free at that). I’m practically getting used to being treated like royalty!

The real excitement of our trip (asides from finding a restaurant that makes delicious club sandwiches) actually happened during our marshutka rides to and from Batumi. On our way there, our speedy Gonzalez marshutka driver actually slammed into another car and pretty much totaled it. It wasn’t so much scary as it was eerie. Just as our marshutka crashed, a girl slammed a baseball bat into a man in the book I was reading. I was pretty glad to realize it was a car accident and not my book coming to life.
The poor little car we crashed into! Almost all the people in this photo were passengers on our marshutka.

The good thing was that nobody got injured in the accident (accept for a few spooked passengers) and we didn’t have to pay for the ride. As soon as we stepped off the marshutka we were herded like sheep into a passing marshutka and ended up having to pay just a lari and a half. It cost about half as much to ride from Samtredia to Batumi (about a two hour journey) than it does to ride one stop on the New York City Subway (about a two minute journey).

Our marshutka ride home had its own excitements. Asides from a soundtrack of late 90s Backstreet Boys (amazing) there were a great number of interesting characters on our bus. A man named Ganuri (or something along those lines)came onto the bus holding a tree branch full of mandarins and sat between Emily and me. He fed us mandarins throughout the ride and ‘talked’ to us in Georgian from the moment he got on, to the moment we got off. He didn’t seem to mind that we don’t speak Georgian- he seemed to like talking at us. I alternated randomly saying “ki” (yes), “ara” (no), and “ver gavigeh” (I don’t understand) just to please him. For all I know, I could have agreed to bare his twelve children.

Ganuri’s little brother also played a nice role on our ride. The poor little guy couldn’t handle the bumpy road and tossed his cookies (or on closer inspection- tossed his lobio) all over the place. He narrowly avoided vomiting on Tara by mere inches. The funny thing was that the boy getting sick didn’t seem to faze anyone; I’d imagine events like that happen all the time.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) the marshutka did not smell like throw up at all. Ganuri’s natural body odor was so potent it masked any other scent.

Next time we travel I may just opt to take the train.


  1. just thought I'd update you:
    Foo Fighters are currently in the studio making a new album (fingers crossed this means a fall 2011 - ish tour!)
    and listen to this, it's magical.

  2. Manda! I kind of love you for posting about the Foo Fighters on my blog. And for wanting to be on the cracked out (possibly literally) field trip.

    Miss you more than you know...

  3. i want that sculpture :]
    and if foo fighters is touring again i want in!!!