My first 100 days in Georgia (the country)!
Well folks, I’ve officially been in the country of Georgia for 117 days, but since I was traveling out of the country for 17 days, this is my 100 days in Georgia (the country) post! I’ve learned a lot, and want to share with you the good, bad, and ugly (with no reference to the movie except for this one).
Please keep in mind that this is written from the perspective of someone who has a lot of experience abroad, but who has spent the majority of her life in the US and Germany meaning that ultimately, I have some expectations that might be different from others.
So first, the good!
I can’t say enough how kind the majority of the Georgians have been. I’ve been welcomed into people’s houses, fed, given directions, and just generally helped out more times than I can count. Obviously, this is a generalization and there are jerks in every country, but for the most part that has not been the case here. Georgian hospitality is a real thing and it has been an absolute pleasure to experience. Esdras and I have also made a good deal of wonderful friends that have made moving and living here a lot easier!
Guys, the food!
I was right about the food in my first post about us moving to Georgia. It is DELICIOUS! The khachapuri is tasty, but my FAVORITE food is the type of dumplings that they have here called khinkali. These are big dumplings that can be filled with meat, cheese, mushrooms, or some other thing. The most delicious, in my carnivorous opinion, are the meat ones. They have a ground meat and herb filling and are made so that there is BROTH INSIDE THE DUMPLING. These are not for beginners, and you can always tell when it’s someone’s first time eating them because there is broth all over their plate. Honestly, for us to save time here, I’ll probably just write an entire other blog about khinkali and how to properly eat them, and more Georgian food in general, so stay tuned for that!
My second favorite dish is called Ojakhuri and it is basically pork, potatoes, and onions. One of the reasons I love this dish so much is that it's just so hard to screw up. Even if you have a bad Ojakhuri, it's still pretty decent.
The fresh fruit is also amazing- I’m eating an entire bowl of pomegranate seeds as I write this and it cost like 50 cents.
Here's a photo from our first Supra (Georgian feast)- this was just the first of like 4 courses...
Technically, this probably falls under food, but it deserves its own category. Honestly, dry reds for days, an organic amber wine that is tasty and doesn’t give you a hangover, and refreshing white wine selections. I could go on and on, and I probably will another time, especially after I have a chance to visit wine country!
It’s freaking beautiful.
Unfortunately, my husband and I have not been able to explore as much as we’d planned due to many excuses that I don’t feel like listing out right now. However, from what little we’ve seen of Tbilisi, the view from our balcony, and the pictures that our friends have posted, we’ve got a lot of exploring to do.
Just in Tbilisi though, there are a lot of outdoor spaces, including parks, lakes, cafes, etc., which we will be enjoying much more of when the weather gets better!
I’m most excited about going to the beach in Batumi in the summer, but I’ve been told that wintertime is the time to visit the mountains. Although I don’t ski (I’m from Florida, people!), friends of mine have said that it’s worth it just to go up for the views of the mountains covered in snow. Hopefully that will be our next adventure.
Here's the view from our neighborhood, E and I enjoying one of the outdoor sitting areas in warmer weather, and Vake Park!
Honestly, I thought I would be used to traffic having just come from DC, but it’s at a whole different level here. Even on our first day driving into the city from the airport, E was like, “Do you see how they drive here?”. How they drive here can be summed up by saying that lanes are much more of a suggestion than a rule and that almost every driver thinks that waiting in traffic is not for them. This results in quite a bit of driving in oncoming traffic, being stuck behind a car that is driving slowly, but taking up two lanes, and if any event is happening in the city, there will be traffic. It once took me an hour and a half to drive what should take 10 minutes.
If you’re not driving, that’s cool, and I’ve had my adventures on the buses here (which cost 50 cents per ride) and then there are the Marshrutkas, these little vans that cost 35 cents a ride and are a remnant of the Soviet Union. I’ll have to talk about all that in another post. Also, like everywhere else in the world, the taxi drivers are the worst.
Lack of organization.
Sometimes, it just takes a lot more time to get things done here, and it’s usually when you don’t expect it. Getting a new SIM card and phone number set up- cool, that took like 10 minutes! Buying a microwave- that’ll be an hour and 15 minutes. Buying some fresh fruit from a fruit stand- lots of sign language, looking at the total on a calculator (if you haven’t perfected your Georgian), and it’ll take about 5 minutes. Getting food from a hot bar in the grocery store, yikes! This was kind of my fault because in my experience, hot and cold bars have a set price for the weight of a container. In Georgia, however, each item has its own price- which kinda makes sense, until you see how much packaging they use- it's like one styrofoam or plastic takeout container per item, though they don't much care for recycling here so, that makes sense.
Also, probably the fact that everyone and everything is late just about all of the time falls under this category. That's the thing about living in Germany for any extended period of time, it'll ruin you for this.
Do you love wallpaper, "modern" chandeliers, and long curtains on every window, even in the kitchen? Want a column in the middle of a room with no function? YOU'VE GOT IT! How about some LED track lighting in every room? If you're answer is, "definitely!", then Georgia is the place for you!
These are small things, but added up, it led to quite an adventure for us finding an apartment. The apartment we chose has this crazy LED chandelier, wallpaper on every wall, and some strange quirks. Apparently, some things that I’d taken for granted are not givens. For example, one would think the water from a faucet would only go into the sink- not true if the faucet and bowl of the sink were not measured correctly. Or, of course the baseboard will go around the entire room, but nope, they just didn’t bother to put any down where the bed goes. We did end up with a really sweet balcony though, which I can’t wait to enjoy during the not-winter seasons!
Here's a picture of our chandelier, and some other random images that will demonstrate the Georgian decor... I would like to say I had to work hard to find these images, but they were all within the same two apartments. You might want to put on sunglasses.
It basically doesn't exist. I went to see my first movie theater here last week and people showed up late, used their cell phone lights to find their seats (15 minutes in to the movie), talked throughout, and one person literally answered their phone. It took ALL of my strength not to lose it. This will definitely take some getting used to.
Like, in a shopping mall, indoors at restaurants, at most bars. I’m cool with people smoking, live your lives (and die early), but I don’t want to have to smell it while I’m eating, or have my clothes smell like it after a night out or a stroll through the mall!
This one weird incident.
Honestly, nothing has been too terrible, but there was this one incident that threw me. Let me explain. Georgia is a pretty civilized country and sure some things are different, but I never expected this particular incident. Which is why when E and I were strolling around our new neighborhood and saw a woman squatting down at the bottom of a cellar stairwell that is right off of a main road, I was confused. I made eye contact for an uncomfortable amount of time as I was trying to make sense of the situation, and then was screamed at in what I imagine were lots of Georgian profanities. I get it lady, I don’t want to be looked at in the eyes when I’m baking a hot icicle, but there was no way I could have intuited what was happening and in trying to make sense of it all. Now I have a story about how I looked a stranger dead in the eyes while she was relieving her dirty squirties.
Although, this last incident could technically qualify Georgia as a literal shithole country, we like it just fine overall! I’m enjoying my time here and hope that in the next 100 days we get to explore more of this beautiful country and try to learn a bit more of the Georgian language. I suppose that I should mention that we also adopted a Georgian puppy, so you’ll probably be hearing a bit more about her on the blog as well! C’mon, who doesn’t like puppy travel pics?