Written on Tuesday, April 30
I’ve been with my host family for three full days and I feel as if I have been here for months. For a Georgian family, my family is very small. Families often have many generations in one house and mine is no different. However, it is a small three-generation family. That suits me perfectly. It is a fairly quiet home but very warm and welcoming. Neighbors stop by frequently and are always welcomed with chai (tea) or k’ava (coffee) and bread or sweets.
I have plenty of motivation to learn the language as I can’t wait to be able to have real conversations with Eka as I’m sure we will be good friends. She strikes me as the kind of person I would make friends with anywhere. She’s been a great teacher quizzing me regularly (and I, in turn, am helping her learn English). At this rate, my vocabulary will far surpass my fellow volunteers. We’ll see how that works out. Probably only twenty percent of it sticks at the moment and I’m a little slow in piecing anything together to make a coherent thought. I have to remember, even though it feels as if it has been months, I’ve only had four language lessons so far. I have to say, the Peace Corps language program is pretty amazing.
This weekend is Easter weekend according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar. So, we have a four-day weekend. We are off Good Friday and the following Monday. On the Monday after Easter, it is traditional to go to the cemetery and have a picnic near your loved one’s graves. I’m not sure what my family has planned for the weekend. I asked Eka if she would go to church on Easter and she said she would go and light a candle. Well, she pantomimed it. So, I’m not sure if that means that is all they do or what. I guess I shall see. I am hoping that we’ll do the Good Friday tradition of coloring eggs. Here they dye eggs red to represent the blood of Christ. No other colors. Their lent lasts 50 days (instead of 40) and they are allowed no fish or meat, much more strict than Catholics in the US. During Holy Week (the week before Easter) they don’t eat dairy or eggs either. Apparently my family isn’t very devout as we have had fish and dairy all this week. I’ve had chicken soup but I’ve not seen them eat it.
Meals here are interesting. I have yet to sit down for a meal with the whole family. There is always at least one person missing and many times it is just Eka and I eating. Georgians do not typically all eat meals at the same time except during a Supra (which I’m sure I’ll have a chance to experience and blog about at some point in the future). They seem to eat smaller meals through out the day. Their last meal is usually at about 10 pm. I’ll admit I have yet to see that meal as I’m usually falling asleep at about that time. Eka stays up until midnight usually, which is pretty normal for Georgians. Why I would become an early to bed, early to rise person upon coming to a late night country, I have no idea! But it doesn’t seem to be shifting. I’m sure when PST is over and I’m not so busy, I’ll shift back to my natural state.
As I’m sure is evident, I’m really enjoying it here so far. The language training, while tough, feels productive. I’m excited for the work I’ll be doing (which I’ll go into more some other time). And I feel super lucky with my host family, particularly Eka. I also really appreciate the pace here and the connection to nature in every day life. No one here lives in a hermetically-sealed plastic bubble. We spend evenings sitting on the front porch looking out at the garden (and the outhouse). My mint tea comes straight from the garden and I can’t wait for cherries from the tree in the garden. Clothes are hung on the line to dry. The doors to the house are left open all day. Of course, it helps that since I got toKhashuri the weather has been perfect. Clear blue skies and mid-70s everyday. Perhaps all of this wouldn’t seem so idyllic with a blanket of snow on the ground and no heat.