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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"I love the view, but I would not want the life." *

Well, after some rough patches recently, I have to say that things with my host family have been distinctly fantastic lately.  In addition to the great morning on the beach that I mentioned, we've had some pretty chill times and conversations and even a few jokes.  And let me tell you, jokes are hard to get through the language barrier.

This past Friday, we were having lunch, which included (like almost always) pitchers of their homemade wine.  My host grandpa, Eldari, was making fun of me for drinking like an American -- i.e., sipping with every toast rather than downing the entire glass in one fell swoop.  My host mom, Nana, said one of my favorite things ever (and also this really shows how her English is improving!) -- "You're in Georgia.  Drink like a Georgian."  And then, to prove her point, she went into the next room and came back with these:

May I just say, I rose to the occasion manfully.
And no -- no WAY those things were any way like full.  One brimming glassful each got poured in.  That was plenty -- believe me!

Then, after my post lunch coma nap, I was walking to the market nearby and ran into Ucha, the host cousin visiting for the summer from Tbilisi.  Sometimes we get together in the evenings and hang out with his buddies -- we generally camp out on the benches in front of my host family's house, drinking Georgian beer and cracking sunflower seeds.  It's really very Georgian and a pleasant, low-key way to pass the time.  (Plus it doesn't break my bank!  Super bonus!)

But that particular night, Ucha invited me into his house (next door), "to drink wine."  Well, it turned out that Ucha had invited four of his friends over for an utterly fantastic supra.  There was a ton of food, all of it quite tasty.  And SOOO much wine!  There was toasting and toasting and toasting and laughing and toasting.  I didn't have my camera because I had not idea what the night would turn out to be, but I had an amazing time and finally had to tear myself away at 2:00 AM.  Ucha and his buddies were still going strong!

I don't know if I've actually ever mentioned this, but for the past month, my two host sisters Anna and Nata have been away, staying with their aunt in Bakhmaro.  Bakhmaro is a teeny summers-only village way up in the mountains, and is surrounded by some of the most incredible, stunningly beautiful scenery I have ever seen or imagined.

I know this, because today the family went to go bring them home, and I asked to come along.

And so -- I dragged my happy ass out of bed at 7:30 in the morning today (ridiculous), and got in the car with my host-aunt and host-uncle.  (Rezzo would apparently be along later in a separate car.)  Georgia has some truly breathtaking mountains.  It's about two and a half hours from Poti to Bakhmaro, and I enjoyed every minute of the trip -- particularly whipping around the hairpin curves and looking down and out over an endless expanse of green rolling into hazy blue.

Anna and Nata.  I missed these girls!

When we got there, the girls were overjoyed to see everyone and their aunt was of course the perfect Georgian hostess.  I immediately got sat down for hot coffee, and fresh bread with butter and honey.  Perfect breakfast.  After I was done eating, I took the rest of my coffee outside and stared at this incredible view.

From what I could see, life in Bakhmaro is one teeny tiny step from outright camping.  Facilities are very (very) basic, and there are one or two small shops a ways up the road.  Most houses had a firepit out front.  I think I would love to stay here for a couple days... breathe the air, hike in the amazing forest, sing around the fire and not have to worry about email.  Or... showers, for that matter.  But being here a month?  Sheesh.  I think both Nata and Anna were looking forward to coming home. :)

Anna.  The whole region is just riddled with crystal-clear streams like these.  Bakhmaro is known for its spring water.
Georgian duplex.  The right side is their house.
Bakhmaro is serious horse country.  Both Nata and Anna are terrific riders.
Nata put me on that horse for a few minutes.  I managed neither to fall off nor trample the child inexplicably sleeping in the middle of the path.  (On a mattress, no less.  Don't ask.  This is Georgia.)  I did not stay up for very long though.  I figure -- why mess with a good thing?  Being up there really made me respect how these two girls can tear around on their horses though!

Some of Bakhmaro has seen better days.
Later on, I took a short hike with Rezzo and a host uncle.  I was pretty confused as to why they brought axes along on our hike, but it turned out they were going to harvest some pine saplings to re-plant in Poti.

Bakhmaro through the trees.
New favorite self-portrait

Then it was time to pack everyone and everything into the two cars and say Nakhvamdis to Bakhmaro, at least until next summer!  On the way home, the car ran into a patara problema...

But soon we were on our way again and walking in the door, to be greeted by yet another amazing supra that Nana and Izo had whipped up to welcome the girls home.

I am so glad -- so happy and so grateful -- that I got to have this wonderful adventure today!

* Quotation taken from Beyond the Sky and the Earth, by Jamie Zeppa.  Easily my favorite travel memoir I've ever read, and was pretty instrumental in bringing me to Georgia.  I recommend it wholeheartedly.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a wonderful day. This is why you are there. To be in this beautiful country with these generous, happy people who treat you like family. You are so lucky. These moments will live forever in your heart. You will tell your current and future loved ones of these happy times for the rest of your life. You can never repay these people for these memories, but you can share your life with joy and simplicity as you create the written word.