"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Batumi, Part the Second

This past Saturday I packed up my backpack (learning to travel light, go me!), and tackled Georgia's wonderful mass transit system, the inter-city marshrutkas.  These derelict and quite probably dangerous minibuses rattle and kabong their way all over Georgia, and if one is willing to risk one's well-being, they will take you from Poti to Batumi for 6 lari, which is roughly 4 dollars.

I was determined to cut my teeth on traveling independently here, and also set the stage with my host family that I do intend to travel a lot, both near and far.  But for all my willful independence, I was pretty damn grateful that my host Mom Nana insisted on driving me to the bus station.  Given Poti's lack of maps or reasonable street signs, I'd never have found it on my own.  She didn't stop there though, marching with me up to the counter and actually buying my ticket, and then seeing me safely to the door of the correct bus.  I think she had some words with the driver too.  My host Mom is a force of nature, and I love the hell out of her, except when she is trying to get me to eat about three times more food than could possibly ever fit in my poor stomach.  (This does continue to get better though -- progress!)

I arrived in Batumi at around 12:30 in the afternoon, and called Suzanne right away.  Lucky girl got posted here, and I'd come to check out her new stomping grounds.  We walked around and got lunch and drinks at a Ukrainian restaurant, where we met up with three folks she'd recently met.  Trent, Susan, and Matt -- two Australians and a Brit, all of whom came over with the same Program that we did, but now Trent is doing his own thing and seems to really have his shit worked out. :)

After the Ukranian place, we hit up a Turkish coffeehouse/hookah bar for wine and merriment.  I was totally down with getting a hookah, but I think the collective intimidation of ordering one in Georgian kept it from actually happening.

Orientation roomie Suzanne, and new friends Trent, Susan, and Matt

Freeport, NY?  Surgeon General's Warning?  Wait, what...
After the Turkish place, it was time for another very cute bar/restaurant called the Press Cafe.  We put a dent in their stock of red wine, then the group headed off the dinner.  I felt like I could use a breather though, so took my leave temporarily and just walked along the waterfront.  I love this beautiful city!

The fountians move in time to music pumped over a loudspeaker.

So pretty!!
Then I met up with the group once again... and after some debate it was back to the Press Cafe!  Life is grand. :)  I ordered a club sandwich -- it was completely Western and came with fries.  French fries!!!  Actual fries!  I think I cried.  I mean, I'm a pretty adventurous eater, but so far Georgian cuisine and I have not gotten along.  This has led me to really, REALLY crave some familiar tastes of home.  Hummus with mini carrots and pita would have sent me over the moon, but a normal sandwich with real leafy lettuce (try finding that in Poti) was pretty spectacular here.

But why is the wine gone!??!
When the bar kicked us out finally, Susan and Trent invited us to drink at their place.  They have a really great apartment (that conveniently was located next door to my hotel), so we did that for a while and ended us having a fairly late night.  Suzanne ended up crashing in the other bed in my hotel room.  Hey, once a roomie always a roomie, right? :)

The next day, I met Suzanne's host family briefly, then took a deep breath and attempted to find my way home.  This turned out to be MUCH harder than it sounds.  A miscommunication had led me to believe that the Batumi Marshrutka station was in a different place than it -- in fact -- was.  And a lack of usable Georgian led to about 30 minutes of extreme frustration before Suzanne suggested calling our language teacher, Lika.  Well, that was a fantastic idea.  I put Lika on my phone with the most helpful of the Georgian men, and he ended up hailing a taxi, riding with us, and physically leading me to the door of my bus.  Random Georgian man with gold teeth, I owe you one.  Didi madloba.

Walked in the door of my host family's house at 4:30ish, and promptly got asked if I wanted to take a car ride to Zugdidi to pick up their new puppy.

But that's a post for another day!  Peace out y'alls.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you're having a fabulous time! NY wine 'n all. Sounds like Georgians are super nice! Bet you're that part isn't like the states lol ;)