This past week and a half has included quite a few liquid adventures.
Last week I met Ben, a fellow volunteer with my Program who teaches one school over and lives very close to me. He came by my school at the end of my first day teaching to introduce himself, which I thought was extremely cool of him. I suggested going out for coffee, which ended up being lunch at this really cool restaurant/bar called Aragvi. I am learning (really far too slowly), that Georgians NEVER just go out for "a coffee," or "a beer." There is ALWAYS food, and lots of it, and usually vodka, especially if it's the evening or if your companions are men.
Ben's host dad Gia came with us, and also called Nana so she could join us. No vodka this time, but the food at this place is excellent, especially their kinkhali, for which they are locally famous. One of my favorite Georgian dishes is meat seasoned and then cooked on a spit like a kebab, but then taken off the spit and served in sizzling hot clay bowls. I've had chicken, beef, and pork all served this way. It's been harder for me to make the Mammals Adjustment with pork than with beef (the exception, of course, being bacon), but I really like the chicken and beef ones. Besides that, we had the Georgian staple -- kachapuri, as well as their tomato and cucumber salad and plenty of bread, cheese, and kinkhali. If you come to Georgia, this is exactly the meal you will eat, without a single doubt.
The next day, Ben and I made plans to go out without the benevolent protection of our hosts, and ended up back at Aragvi again. I called Mark and Julie, the volunteers from my group who also ended up in Poti, and Ben called Pierre and Todd, volunteers that he knew. So it ended up being quite a party, but I didn't take a single picture for some reason. Oh well. More kinkhali, kachapuri, Georgian salad... and plenty of beer and wine, this time. Towards the end of the night, we all got drawn in with a group of Georgian men making a night of it... and got invited to a picnic they were having the next day because it was a school holiday. The picnic ended up not happening, but the story with these young men doesn't end here...
Then the weekend in Batumi happened, which you already know about in detail. And on Sunday afternoon I got piled in the car to drive an ~hour east to the city of Zugdidi, to pick up Ruda. In Zugdidi, my host dad Rezo brought out the cha-cha, which is homemade or home-doctored vodka. This particular cha-cha was fermented with grapes and came in a gigantic mason jar. It was now about 7:30 in the evening and I had yet to eat that day... but in the name of International Relations I manfully knocked back four shots of this stuff.
The liquid courage that comes with four shots of vodka came in handy, because on the way home I had to ask Rezo to stop so I could pee behind a tree. Was kind of hoping to have the relationship a little further along before something like that happened, but whatevs. Also on the way home, our car, Rezo's friend's Geo Metro, ran out of gas just outside of Poti.
That's one for the travel memoir.
Got home and put away another vodka shot along with four sandwiches furnished by the host mom. Hell, by then it was 10:30 at night and the only thing in my poor body was half an apple (gratefully eaten in Zugdidi), and a whole bunch of cha-cha. I think Nana thought I had been body-snatched, the way I was finally putting food away the way I apparently should have been all along. :)