A Travellerspoint blog

The Akhuti Adventure Four

Day Two: Evening, Day Three: Morning

A firm open-handed crack across my face had taken me away from my lovely wife, my cuddly dog, the comforts of familiar Canadian soil and dropped me pitifully drunk within the walls of a eerie fortress in a remote part of Northwestern Georgia. Chris stood above me pulling me up by my shirt telling me it was time to go.

I just laid down.
That was almost an hour ago.
Well, did you slap him too?
No, he's beyond being slapped. It wouldn't have any effect.
I strongly disagree.

We tried to shake Derek, but he wouldn't wake. All of our attempts failed, so we each grabbed an arm and threw it over our shoulders as if we were saving a wounded soldier. We took turns pleading with him to walk himself, and if not, at least occasionally support his own body weight. The three of us greatly misjudged Noam's homemade vodka, but seeing Derek in such a state seemed to sober me up, but only a little. The sun felt less strong and was threatening to begin its descent. On our way along the road Chris explained that the fortress, as it turned out, was in someone's backyard and the man who owned the property had arrived home to see three drunk 'Americans'; two of which were passed out while the third was talking casually to his young wife. This made him uneasy and he kindly asked us to leave. Irakli had left sometime before, so were left to our own knowledge on how to get home. The road, we later found out, forked many times and when it did, we managed to choose the wrong turn on every occasion.

We stumbled down the road, Derek's condition persisted and mine was only slightly better. Chris was the best of us but I couldn't imagine he was significantly better than I was in comparison to Derek. We trudged in every sense of the word. It was a slow, melancholic walk at a snail's pace. For every step forward we took two or three to each side. We had become a three headed, two armed, six legged (though only four worked) organism consisting mostly of alcohol. We were a pathetic mess.

The sun made good on its threat and fell first behind the tallest trees, then behind the clear horizon until we continued trudging by the light of the moon. The road had turned into a trail and we found ourselves in the sticks. Chris had stopped to ask for directions while I babysat Derek, trying my best to keep him upright and awake. After innumerable tumbles on the gravel road, where Derek neglected to let go of me and Chris was unable to hold the weight of two bodies, I fast became sick of falling. After struggling to keep him vertical for a time, I washed myself of the responsibility, let go and watched him wobble in the air before dropping to his side, stiff as a board and disappear into the the tall grass with a satisfying thud. When Chris came back with the most vague of directions and the knowledge of needing to carry Derek another four kilometers before reaching home, I sincerely doubted our ability to get back for the second time. We had lost Derek in the bush somewhere while we discussed our dwindling options, but found him soon enough. He'd mustered the only flash of self-propulsion in three hours to stumble deeper into the bushes to pee and after, had curled in the dewy grass to sleep. He wouldn't wake up and could only be coaxed to move forward by taunting him into a such a rage he'd chase us down the path, usually coming to an abrupt and brutal end as he'd fall on his face or disappear into bramble. It's hard to run in heels I am told. He caught on to our motivational tactics and reached a point of no return. He was spent and curled himself into a ball willing to brave the elements of a late October night in Georgia's wilderness. Chris wanted to press on but I knew it was useless. We hadn't walked more than fifty yards on the trail when I expressed this hopelessness to Chris at continuing. I became unglued and hysterical with our predicament. But credit to Chris who calmed me down with a firm and friendly hand.

We can't continue down this path, this is the last house we know of.
What choice do we have? We have to get him home.
We carry Derek to that last house.
And then what?
We get help, call your host-dad, stay there...
What if they don't?
They're human beings aren't they? They will at least give us a barn to sleep in.

Having won Chris over we hugged it out and went over to collect the lifeless body of Derek. He was far beyond sleep, in such a poisoned state of intoxication I truly believe we could've pulled out all his teeth with little resistance. Positive reinforcement, name calling, physical abuse wouldn't wake him up and we were both exhausted from carrying him as far as we did. I picked up a limp arm and began the fifty yard climb back uphill to the last sign of civilization. For forty nine yards nobody spoke a word. At the fifty yard mark Derek managed to lift his head.

"Come... on... maaaan! You're dragging me? Face down in the gravel?" As if we were bullying him and committing such a disservice. These were the last words he spoke for the rest of the night.

Chris did all the talking and half the carrying to the last house we'd seen before entering the trail. The kind strangers opened up their home to us and put Derek to bed immediately. I sat outside completely body-stoned with embarrassment and shame I had never experienced in all my life. All I could do was rest my head in my hands, mortified. After pleading with Chris to invade a strangers home, I couldn't walk inside the door frame myself. The woman of the house had to come out, wrap me in her arms and gently guide me inside. 'I am sorry, bodishi' were the only words I spoke for the rest of the night. On a separate bed near Derek, she fluffed a pillow and encouraged me to lay down, then draped a blanket over me much as she had done for our little bronze friend. I was asleep in seconds, I imagine, and she must've pulled off my shoes too, making the tuck-in complete.

While Derek and I slept, the woman stayed up and fixed Chris some food, let him call his host-brother, Matcho, to pick us up, gave directions and made him up a bed too, just in case. Matcho actually arrived at the house to pick us up, having driven the tractor to the next village, but to no avail as Derek was in too deep of a sleep and I was unwilling to come back from my laying in the park with the wife and dog. So he returned home in the tractor without cargo as it was decided we'd all sleep it off in the strangers home.

It was very cold that night, a hangover had set in firmly by 3 a.m. and the thin blanket wasn't getting the job done. At seven, Chris came in and our quiet talk woke the home owners in the next room. He got up to milk the cow while she went to work around the kitchen. I hunched over myself on the edge of the daybed wrapped tightly in my blanket, just as embarrassed as I was the night before, but their hospitality and warm, genuine smiles let me forgive myself enough to chat with our hosts a bit before leaving.

As we exited the house and made our way to the gate, we were stopped by the man of the house. He was questioning why we were leaving so soon and herded us back into his home. By this time his wife had set the table, boiled water for chai and was nearing completion of fresh-baked khatchapuri and omelette's. We ate, talked and showed pictures of our misadventure which incited laughs around the table. Only then, full-bellied, were they comfortable in letting us leave. Their hospitality magnified a deep sense of guilt and embarrassment.

We invade their house in a pathetic drunken stupor, and they make sure to give us all that they have and disregard our blatant ignorance, and even manage to share some laughs with us. What an unbeleivable display of hospitality.

What a country. What a people. What a thing to bring home.

Posted by CRBackman 22:46 Archived in Georgia Tagged village excursion georgia akhuti Comments (0)

The Akhuti Adventure Three

Day Two: Afternoon

We followed the creek upstream, recognizing it was also part of the road upon which we were walking until we saw it had properly diverged from being a road-creek combination. We kept to it, up and around to the right where it was lined with a variety of trees, their branches hanging over ramshackle fences made from scraps of everything. We snatched a couple of apples and continued. Chris had earlier mentioned that the next set of houses we passed, he would ask if we could fill up our water bottles, though we passed more than a few without asking anything of them. A particular house, for reasons I can't describe, called to me. This was the house of a man we'd come to know as Noam; a wonderful man, our gracious host, and whom the Universe had sent to make me eat my words; that nothing could ruin this fine day.

We hollered at the gate, uttered our sincerest apologies 'bodishi, bodishi' and eventually Noam strutted out. He was dressed in house sandals common to Georgians, pressed slacks and an untucked, partly unbuttoned, light blue, hard collared shirt complete with an ink-blot staining the breast pocket. He was growing a big belly with matching cheeks and his tanned skin seemed natural enough and gave the illusion he spent a lot of time outside on his property. His skin folded on his neck, under his chin and at the laugh lines around his mouth exposing glowing white streaks of skin hardly touched by the sun. Wrinkles all around his eyes and along his forehead, above bushy salt and pepper eyebrows, were much the same, though shallower lines called for a less dramatic contrast.

His property was large and extended across the street and far over the hill, with three separate houses and as many cars with a stand alone building for the kitchen in the center. Like most people in Georgia, he was self sustaining, growing and breeding whatever he and his family needed. Needing, however, is far different than wanting. We would find out the next day that Noam, our new friend, was part of the Georgian mafia. I had becomne a member of said mafia earlier that week. No big deal.

He motioned for us to come with him through the gate where he pumped the water and let it run for us to wash up and fill our bottles, then urged us afterward to sit and rest - that taking a break would be of no harm. We sat on the bench together while he pulled up a stool where we began talking and his wife brought a bowl of washed grapes, demanding us to eat. We were getting our fill of the water and grapes, thanking him and his wife profusely for their hospitality when he began to flick at his throat. Shit. He had done this at the gate when we first asked for water, but thought we'd done a good job of politely laughing the sentiment off. If you're unfamiliar, the meaning for a person of this region to flick his neck is concrete, an unwavering gesture, a clear sign of what's to come; you're about to get fucking wasted. In an instant it seemed, a table had been brought over and filled with plates, glasses, fruit, cookies, chocolates, sweets, bread, chicken, hot pepper pickled cabbage, cheese and the best damn cup of coffee I've had in this entire country. I didn't feel hungry before the food lay out before me, but we ate like Kings at the base of a castle. A glass carafe, half-dipped in silver fell upon the table, chacha, and we drank that too as if it hadn't tasted like harsh and unforgiving homemade vodka; like grapes fermenting in a vat of white vinegar; like a mixture of nail polish remover and gasoline; like battery acid from Satan's Hummer; like complete and total organ failure; like our demise. After only two toasts (to Georgia and to his granddaughter) I could confidently admit I was drunk. Food, broken communication and chacha continued far longer than advisable by any health authority. I really didn't want to drink, but this man was providing so much to us, laying out a magnificent spread, and was only asking for the company to wish for the health and prosperity of his family and his lifestyle over some (far more than some) drink. I wasn't going to be the first guy to slap him in the face with the bold act of rejecting his simple plea: Toast with me.

We noticed (remarkable we could notice anything) Noam's son-in-law, Irakli, come through the gate and we couldn't help but have a laugh; he was carrying a net with a very long handle, wrapped in a live wire fastened to the metal frame which trailed up the handle connecting to a large battery pack. After some investigating it was found to be a fishing tool, used by submerging the apparatus, electrocuting the fish and scooping their corpses into the nearby net. What we didn't notice was the trade that took place, the old 'Georgian switch,' where we had started our chacha marathon with Noam, but completed the iron-man event with Irakli. We took a few photos with Noam, thanked him and his family, waived goodbye to the baby and set off toward the days pinnacle; the fortress. Irakli was summoned by Noam to guide us, and so he did.

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Leaving the gate, we acknowledged how drunk we were, and how much more drunk than we thought we should have been. Noam's chacha was the most brutal I'd found in all of Georgia. It was just after two in the afternoon, plenty of time to spend a few hours at the castle and make our way home. As we followed the winding road up to our destination, I felt myself getting progressively more drunk. At some point along the way I noticed we were all in possession of valuable cargo; I carried my camera and the bag of Irakli's fish, Chris carried the backpack with all of our belongings, and Irakli carried Derek. We stopped at a house to drop off the fish where I wasted no time in showing everyone how Canadian I was by gutting a bunch of these tiny fish in a flash. Derek's eyelids were battling each other for the second time in as many days. Chris giggled.

We then made a quick stop at Irakli's house where he twisted our rubber arms to try his ghvino; as if it was a goal of ours to turn our blood into pure alcohol or jet fuel. I may as well describe it as the best wine in the world. Hell, as far as I know it could have been, but I can't remember. We continued onward after he filled a pocket of my backpack with samples of his garlic.

The closer we got to the sturdy stone walls, the weaker Derek's foundation became until he had to be completely carried into the courtyard of the castle by both Irakli and Chris, where he crawled to the grassy center, rested his head on a log, and passed out cold. This is where he remained for the duration of our stay while Chris and I explored the fortress. This isn't to say we were all bigger men and better drinkers than Derek, I was an outright mess, but I could at least stay on my feet and form sentences beyond, 'just got so hammered... drank so hard... we made it!'

About a dozen feet above the ground, accessed from the interior of the courtyard was an opening in one of the towers. To get inside, all we had to do was climb the twelve feet. Irakli, who was in control of his major motor skills, crawled into the opening with ease and watched as I climbed a few feet, then slid down. After my third (or more) attempt failed miserably, he reached down and pulled all eighty-one of my kilograms into the tower doorway. Chris climbed up with only a little assistance from Irakli. Derek remained unconscious in the grass. This is when I first became nervous at my ever-increasing drunkenness.

Inside the tower, of which we had to crawl back down into, I entered wanting to show respect for the imaginary line in the dirt that apparently segregated holy ground from regular Earth. Irakli showed me how to cross my chest to show respect and I did as such. And in my attempts to be respectful I fell right overboard and went on a blessing rampage. I blessed him, Chris, the day, the soil, the castle, the sky, that lizard, a cool looking rock, and on and on. In my attempts to show respect for a religion I don't understand, I am afraid I ventured well into the territory of being utterly disrespectful. This is one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. This would be trumped later the same day. But, it happened nonetheless. When we left the dark tower the sun was still bright and high in the sky but I was being hit hard by the alcohol in my system. I had completely misjudged Noam's homemade vodka.

[I'm being forced to eat, again.]

Derek looked comfortable and peaceful in his alcohol-induced slumber and I emulated him, initially, to better absorb my surroundings. Then finding comfort in the grass myself, I just wanted to rest my eyes a bit. Soon I was as lost as Derek amid wonderful dreams. For a moment I was back at home resting in a park after a long walk with my wife and dog in a section of grass neglected from the parks crew. I could reach out, feel her face laying beside me. Everything was wonderful.

Posted by CRBackman 22:41 Archived in Georgia Comments (0)

The Akhuti Adventure Two

Day Two: Morning

I woke up, sore, on a pile of Chris' dirty laundry to the sound of his voice. At least this time he has recognized who I am. It's morning, I gather, and I can't quite understand yet what he's saying, or even, what I'm saying. As if to provide evidence of how late in the morning it is, he tells me he's already pooped, and on another topic, I had to go with him and look at Derek. Already dressed from falling asleep fully clothed, I found my shoes and went to search for Derek in the dungeon and hoped, only a little, the last two sentences were not related.

Sheet-less, churning with remarkable force around and around on his mattress, kicking his legs and full of hate was our little friend, though unable to resist smiling when we walked in. Chris pointed to the ground beside the mattress, and writhing in much the same way as Derek was a dying mouse (and beside it, a fermented grape), kicking its legs, and if it could, probably uttering similar variances of 'what the hell,' 'so much chacha,' and 'you guys are assholes, man.' Derek found a nail, his choice from over a dozen scattered on and around his bed and threw it at the mouse's head, but missed. Chris giggled. I laughed at how much the two little beings had in common.

[I'm being forced to eat again.]

After a light breakfast of bread, cheese and a hearty bean dish, we left the house on our way to find a set of caves and, if we had time, discover the fortress which sat high on a hill in the opposite direction. We walked for less than ten minutes when it was discovered we didn't have any solid information on where the caves were or how to get there, we forgot to pack a lunch, and even left our headlamps at home. I kept turning around and each time was tempted by the intrigue of the fortress ruins high on the hill behind us. Though never admitting it, I suspected both Chris and Derek were ailing from persistent hangovers and their energy levels weren't at optimal levels. So, it was easy enough to convince them to head to the fortress far off in the distance, instead of the unattainable caves. This decision at the time seemed logical enough, but would send us on the most ridiculous Georgian adventure yet.

We walked up the large, rolling hillsides of Akhuti that looked like they had once, long ago, been forced into terracing for potatoes, then snatched back by nature; eroding over the seasonal changes and now overgrown with wild flowers, trees and shrubs. It was late in October but the sun shone brightly and forced me to strip off some layers, the scenery was lush and green showing no evidence of having endured a hot and arid summer. We walked pitifully slow, and it was glorious, filling our time like we were children again; playing Bocce with stones, finding bugs, catching frogs, teasing animals and studying the vast variety of poops dotting the path; grading the robustness and speculating on ownership.

Walking along a ridge, we saw two local men with shotguns and full camouflage making their way along the switchbacks climbing up toward us. We hustled down to them before they could scurry away, hoping they would tell us an easy way to the fortress and what they were hunting. Chris and Derek stuttered away in broken Kartuli; they pointed, flailed, impersonated and waited for an answer from the two men. They stared at us with such deliberate coldness, like two limestone busts wearing a rainbow belt of colorful shotgun shells, facing a bronze statue of an oompa-loompa and wax figure of an albino. One man pointed in the direction of the fortress, as if we couldn't otherwise see it, and the other uttered in English, 'foxes'. Feeling this was sufficient enough information the men carried on, calling their hounds, and so, that was that.

We played some more bocce and walked a while longer, cutting through meadows off the beaten path and met back up with it sometime later. We climbed only to descend again, and did this a few times until finding we had stumbled upon another village we'd later know to be called, Nogha. We stopped to take a break, and I was blown away at such a scene we had created without fully grasping. We just finished hoisting the wee-man on our shoulders and coached him to pluck the fruit high up in the tree we could see to be bursting with the most flavor. After our harvest we sat, shaded by the same tree we'd pillaged and broke open the pomegranates, pulling the sweet and sour seeds into our watering mouths. Generally, I found Georgia to be such an unnecessarily difficult place where it needn't be, yet, here we were experiencing something so absurdly simple and unbelievably satisfying; northwest Georgia, in a mountain village, sitting in the shade of a tree eating a fruit that could only be conceived through import back home in Canada.

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More meandering, bocce, and talking led us to a fully shaded creek with brilliantly clear, flowing water. We had finished the last of our well-water under the pomegranate trees but didn't trust this supply to be free from ecoli; seeing pigs just upstream who had probably evacuated their bowels into the system, among an unknown amount of other domesticated life close by. However, we did decide to pull off our socks and shoes and wiggle ourselves into comfortable nooks on the bank, dipping our feet into the refreshingly cold water.

Nothing stood alone as outwardly spectacular, but rather had accumulated from a wonderful collection of experiences that pleased all of our senses; the sight of green, rolling hills, the smell of a fresh breeze carrying wildflowers, the taste of a just-picked pomegranate, the touch of cold creek water massaging our feet, the sound of full English sentences spoken with appropriate grammar and familiar stress and intonation.

There was nothing that could ruin the day, wreck the high I felt, tarnish the appreciation I held for this wonderful place. I dared the Universe to try.

Posted by CRBackman 22:39 Archived in Georgia Tagged village excursion georgia akhuti Comments (0)

The Akhuti Adventure

Day One: My Arrival

During my time here in Georgia, my Candadiana - or anything Western about me - was being stripped from me piece by piece and replaced with the Georgian equivalent. If no Georgian counterpart existed for a particular loss of my previous-self, it was replaced with a kilogram of girth around my midline. It's a joke back home, that you evolve to look like your pets, so it's no shock that I have acquired the belly of a pig, the floppy gizzard of a rooster and the tits of a pregnant cow. Additionally, it is a well-known scientific fact that Georgia experiences far greater gravitational pull compared to anywhere else in the world and it is with sound reason my excessive skin is being pulled toward the Earth's core with so much more vigor than it did back home.

Every day that passed I became significantly less home sick but a side effect came in the form of turning completely Georgian; Instead of sipping a nice glass of white wine over delicate conversation, I felt comfortable slamming a full glass in one shot and screaming in the faces of others around me; I am accustomed to speeding in a glorified go-kart in excess of 140 kilometers per hour along narrow back roads, passing cars on blind corners, dodging a variety of motor vehicles and a plethora of domesticated, wandering animals, adults and playing children as opposed to driving near the speed limit using a combination of laws and common sense; I have learned, and feel it is a normal occurrence to pick my marshrutka driver, if I am even afforded a choice, by how strongly I smell alcohol on his breath and how heavy his eyelids are succumbing to the aforementioned gravity-plus; I am comfortable enough to greet strangers on the street even though I am aware they are going to ask me into their home, feed me anything/everything they can, and we are going to participate in ridiculous conversation beginning with the same five questions - who I am? where I from? Georgia good, yes? do want Georgian girl? how much money, you? - recognizing these questions in Kartuli and in broekn English have equated to forcing approximately seven hundred words out of my brain.

I felt it was necessary to retain some sliver of my old ways but wanted a weekend activity that was heavy with full-sentence English speaking and interaction but also with a local element, and, for it to cost little money as pay day was a few weeks yet. I called Chris, a tall, pasty kid from Ohio with a signature, ridiculous but authentic beaming smile. In describing my general idea for a weekend, he pitched a specific plan for Derek and I to arrive Friday evening at his host-families house in Akhuti village, go exploring in his area Saturday, then return to our villages Sunday feeling refreshed and re-energized. So on Friday, that is exactly what Derek and I did. Sort-of.

The main marshutka stop is conveniently located directly across from the school, but I had inconveniently forgot to grab my tiny bundle of emergency money from my drawer. I darted home, grabbed my wallet, and tried to sneak back through the gate when I heard the ever-familiar beckoning for me to 'Modi, dajeki, t'chame Cor!' Come, sit, eat. Of course. The marshutka was arriving in less than ten minutes and I was waisting a lot of time trying to explain why I didn't have time to eat, bouncing between Kartuli and searching for lost English words I used to know, and even unconsciously throwing in some French and Spanish I didn't realize I'd even retained at some point in my early youth. The only ways I could have left in time were to, inconceivably, get up and walk out, ignoring my host-mothers plea to eat when she had worked to put food together for me, or, to lift the end of the table up and slide its contents into my mouth.

[Just a second, I'm being called to eat.]

Like I mentioned at the very beginning, I had hibernated in the village, I am sure, for the duration of a calendar year. It was less than twenty days, in fact. Nonetheless I set out to mend myself and feed an unquenchable thirst to explore this beautiful landscape with friends. After a few hiccups, of which I won't bother to bore you with but only will mention the marshutka schedules, drivers and vehicles themselves are far from dependable, I was en route. Derek and Chris had already found each other in the main town of Chorotskhru, met some locals and were participating in the common topics of American-Georgian discourse.

I was comfortable in my bench seat on the bumpy ride until an incredibly old and horrifyingly wrinkled woman pulled herself onto the minibus. She hobbled her way toward me near the back and I, with great effort and regret, offered her my seat. I was thanked with the scowl of a thousand sins and the remaining forty-five minutes I stood in the cramped death-trap while she elbowed me in the spine for encroaching on her newly acquired space. Directly on my other face, a kid as fat as the old woman was wrinkly and unappreciative, chomped at an infinite amount of sunflower seeds stashed in his pocket without a single breath, but in order to get at them, had to reach into his pocket by lifting his arm which consequently lifted his elbow right into the underside of my precious seeds. Purely from reaction, I shuddered back sticking my ass in the ungrateful old woman's face where she'd muster up the energy and crack me with another elbow. In my defense I would have caught on to the pattern but I was too busy trying not to hit a man in the face with my backpack, step on some ladies toes, crush her bread, fall onto a child, hold myself up, witness my impending doom through the front window and try to limit how hard my face hit the window frame every time we dodged an obstacle at a clean 100 km/h on a paved goat path. I thought about Derek and Chris, and how they were sitting in their own chairs, in a spacious room, void of elbows in the tail bone or scrotum and grew quite jealous.

I paid the fare and stumbled from the cramped bus. My left foot hadn't been used much in the last three quarters of an hour and remained in an awkward position for most of that time; the blood was now returning to my toes and it was one of the worst 'pins and needles' I have ever experienced and made me hobble along the sidewalk in search of friendship. I found Chris, the big, blond bagette whose cheeks were flushed and his notorious big smile stretched somehow wider. Before he crossed the street to greet me in the center of a massive roundabout I could tell his blood had turned to alcohol long ago. He clasped my arm much like Georgian men do as we walked to the restaurant where we found Derek.

"Coroooooo!" One of his eyelids drooped a little lower than the other in a battle, just like two arm wrestlers fighting to stay up.

He was sitting at a table full of locals. A few plates of food sat empty on the table, beer bottles had disappeared, but their caps were scattered about in evidence of their demise. A bottle of homemade vodka was being poured around the table for my arrival. Derek made the introductions, Chris took a seat and giggled, then they boasted how they had made the frail and socially awkward kid in the local group, Tamada. Before I knew it we were off again with the aid of the bar owner finding us a cab to Chris' remote village of Akhuti.

We talked a bit on the cab ride there, and even had to talk the cabbie into keeping us on the path to Akhuti. He bitched and moaned about the potholes, the damage to his car, the price of gas and the distance to our destination. After some time, the three of us collectively hammered him with the same sentiment, 'why in the hell did he take the fare then?' He didn't utter another word. I was happy to be in English company and it felt good to be in the majority again, pummeling the interior of the Opel with our native language, though my want and desire to hear full sentences beyond that of a four year old would have to wait another day. The cab turned left and right, rolled over hills and dropped into valleys, and every which combination. Derek professed his urge to pee and I was letting the driver know to stop when Chris assured us that we were very close to home, and this settled Derek, though for good measure he let everyone know how badly he had to urinate, again.

We pulled up to the house not five minutes later and was soon greeted at the gate by Chris' host brother, Matcho (not a nickname). Chris began with the introductions, starting with me, but Matcho never made eye contact and barely made physical contact with my hand before letting it go again, let alone giving it a shake. Chris giggled, then turned to introduce Matcho to Derek, who had his trousers down, back turned to us and was peeing on the fence of Chris' host family. We were less than seventy-five yards from a toilet. Chris giggled to lighten the mood.

"Seriously man?" I began berating him, but then backed off when he turned around, realizing I could save my breath. Both eyelids in their epic battle to stay open were wearing down to their final round. Behind the lids I recognized the glint in the eye of someone who just didn't give a shit anymore.

By now it was dark and we sat in the dimly lit dining area while Chris' host-mother, wearing a look of terror and discomfort, brought us coffee, tea, cheese, bread, chicken and lots of water. Derek spent the entire duration of dinner, with tireless endurance, attempting to open a pack of cigarettes while Chris giggled and the host-dad and I talked for a while over a few glasses of his homemade ghvino. After some time, Derek got up from the table and stormed through the kitchen area and was somewhere out in the yard, so Chris and I followed only to find him much like a lost, great Grandpa: tired, confused and alone. We gathered him up and slung his arms over our shoulders, guided him down the stairs and into the darkest, creepiest crevasse the village house had to offer. We found a mattress and dropped him on it, pulled off his shoes and threw a sheet over his poisoned body. What happened after, I am not proud, and what inspired us, I can not say, but we found a bucket of long sturdy nails, grabbed a handful each and with only the light of the moon through the windows to guide us, stood in the doorway and whistled the nails at the top of Derek's head, even managing to stay quiet long enough to hear them make contact with a dull 'PING!'. For good measure, Chris dropped some knowledge on Derek as to why you shouldn't pass out first, except in this moment 'knowledge' was his nuts; I made him pose while I took a photo. Chris and I returned to the dining room where his host-dad and I resumed our conversation; What is your name? Where are you from? Do you like Georgia? Do you like Georgian girls? How much money do you make? Chris giggled.

After a few more glasses of wine, the light behind his eyes started to flicker, so Chris put himself to bed wherein the light quickly burnt completely out. I sat with a computer for a few hours checking email, sports scores, reading articles and looking at photos of my wife and dog on facebook. I was silent except for the clicking of the touch pad when out of nowhere Chris shot out of a dead sleep, looked right at me, dead behind the eyes with no recognition of who I was, then looked down at the computer, giggled, looked back up at me where his face quickly fell stern again.

"Bodishi, ar vitsi Kart... ahhhumm, sorry, but I can't read in Georgian," looking back down at the computer screen in a manner of such seriousness, "I can't read that, I'm sorry."

"Chris, this is facebook, and it's very much in English and," pausing a moment to think, "why are you confusing me with a Georgian man sitting at the end of your bed at one o'clock in the morning? Does this happen often?" No giggle, the light behind his eyes extinguished again and his head plummeted toward his pillow.

Posted by CRBackman 22:35 Archived in Georgia Tagged village excursion georgia akhuti Comments (0)

Georgian Tidbits

My lost status updates...

In my village, I am without any sort of regular access to internet. At most, I am able to find access once per week and so, I don't have the benefit of updating those clever one-liners that we call status updates when they happen fresh. Here are some of the status' I wasn't able to update as they happened to me while in Georgia.

I got in a fight with a rooster today. No punching; kicks and headbutts only. Oh, and the first rule is, there are no rules.

My Bebia (host-grandmother) had a heart attack today. She took a nap and a shot of vodka. Business as usual.

Pigs are as filthy as the Jewish community say they are, but I haven't stopped eating them, because I am as filthy as my community says I am.

I was asked to join the Georgian mafia today. I said yes. We shook hands, so I guess that means I'm in.

I got in another fight with the same rooster. Though it's not against the rules, he began jump/flying in my face. So I hit him several times with a shovel, also not against the rules.

I got drunk and passed out in a castle. You won't find that in a guidebook, yet. It'll catch on.

Georgian TV is really, really bad. So I only watch the Georgian dubbed Spanish soaps with Bebia. We like our stories.

I took a hot shower in October. I hope I get twice as many in November. Fingers crossed.

I've been battling allergies everyday for two straight months. Magic Johnson recovered from HIV faster. He got to have sex with thousands of women to acquire his ailment. I breathed.

My one luxury I held above most other TLG Volunteers broke today, I now have to squat in an outhouse.

I figured out why chickens hang out by the outhouse so much. They eat the poop.

I watched a chainsaw break and the operator wear the chain right across the face. Personal protective equipment in Georgia consists of knock-off sunglasses, flip-flops, ignorance and a whole lotta balls.

Chabuki made me put on my seatbelt when we entered Abasha slowing to 50km/h, because it's the law, then made me unbuckle it when we re-entered the village driving 130 km/h, because he's a fucking man.

I said a bad word to a child today, and I'll admit it, it felt wonderful.

I had my host mother tell me my North Face boots weren't going to cut it, and tried to get me to buy nine lari fake leather soccer boots for winter, instead.

I am told everyday that I am a good boy. I would like to bring this home with me.

Hearing children mispronounce common words to form horribly inappropriate sentences never gets old.

My co-teacher insisted that it was pronounced 'dick a hoe' and not 'dig a hole'. Dig a hole, how absurd is that!?

If Peter Pan were here right now, he'd probably tell me to grow up.

I ate cow brain and chicken hearts on a pirate ship. Only three people on this planet get to say it, and have it be true.

Georgia is the most corrupt place I've ever been, and they tell me it's become considerably better lately.

Georgia's building standards do as much for their architecture as putting lipstick on a pig.

In Canada I was an adult capable of making decisions for himself but I apparently left that on the plane.

Posted by CRBackman 22:25 Archived in Georgia Tagged republic_of_georgia status_updates Comments (0)

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