Sorry. I haven’t updated in a long time. Life continues to be very busy. Since my last post a month and a half ago, I’ve attended a Peace Corps training in Bazaleti, moved, taken a trip to Armenia, put on a volunteerism fair in Kutaisi, and have been enjoying the arrival of spring.
I guess the biggest news in the past month is that I got my own apartment. My host family was great. But I knew from the start that I would be happier living on my own. I’m accustomed to having my own space and living an independent life. It has been great having that back again. My apartment is much closer to the city center than where I previous lived and is only a few blocks from my work. At lunch I can zip home if I want to. I’m extremely happy with my decision.
Of course, my new place doesn’t have the amenities of my host family’s place. The main difference being that I don’t have water all the time. Kutaisi has a controlled water system meaning that different parts of the city have city water at different parts of the day. Mine is very conveniently from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm which works out great most of the time. But there have been days when I have had to go home from a gathering specifically to be able to shower during my water window. Most people in the city have water tanks that supply water during the off-water times. My landlord has a tank. And he sporadically turns it on for me too. But there is never any telling when that will be. Some mornings I have water to wash my face, brush my teeth, and flush the toilet. Others, I don’t. But you learn to adjust. I have bottles of water to use when I need it. Sometimes I use baby wipes to wash my face in the morning. It really isn’t much of a burden. My one wish is that I had some sort of oven. I have a portable cooktop stove with two working burners which suffices for cooking. But I would love to be able to bake some cookies (or pizza)! I’ve also been living without internet at home for the past 25 days but that will likely be rectified tomorrow. My landlord kindly offered to let me use his internet for free if I bought a router. So, I finally did that this week.
Having my own place also means that I have a place that people can stay when they are visiting Kutaisi and in the three weeks since I’ve been here, I’ve already had many guests. In fact, I’ve had guests for the past five nights straight. At the moment, I’m actually looking forward to a bit of a hiatus from playing host! But I’ve met some great people (three of my guests were friends’ of friends and thus strangers to me). I hope I’m building up some good karma for the couch surfing I plan to do when I COS.
Another big event was a long weekend trip to Yerevan, Armenia at the beginning of March. Five of us made the trip. Visiting Yerevan was like visiting civilization. The traffic habits alone were enough to let you know you weren’t in Georgia anymore. There wasn’t any honking, people weren’t speeding and driving erratically, and cars stopped for pedestrians! Throw in the variety of international cuisines available, the great bars, and the respectful men and my mind = blown. I’d love to go back. I think I could even live there. But maybe I’ve just been in Georgia for too long. The trip was incredibly relaxing, so much fun, and not without some adventure (stuffed in a taxi for five hours making pit stops for blown out tires and to change cars along the road side in the middle of nowhere). Travelling here always brings a little of the unexpected and the absurd. Which is what makes it so fun. Especially when you are with a group of people who have all learned to not only roll with it, but to laugh at it.
Life has been busy on the work front too. I’ve had a number of reports and projects due for the Peace Corps lately. I also helped to put on the first annual Kutaisi Volunteerism Fair where we had 16 organizations train on volunteer management in the morning and then meet with over 100 potential volunteers in the afternoon. I’m working with a fellow PCV on a grant for a youth financial literacy camp in both of our cities this summer. Sounds fun, doesn’t it! And I’m working on writing a proposal for a renovation of one of my organization’s day centers. You’ll hear more about that soon. On Sunday I will be heading to Bakuriani, a ski resort town, for a week-long camp. The kids are between 14-16. The kids will learn about a variety of things during the week but my role will be to run English conversation classes for three hours a day. That means the rest of the time, I will be free to work on some projects I’ve been needing to get going on and hopefully get in some good hiking too. I’m looking forward to spending a week in the mountains. As much as I love my city life, sometimes I envy those who are surrounded by Georgia’s stunning nature everyday.
Here in Kutaisi, spring is fully here. I feel a little guilty because it arrived in late February. I know most of you back in the States are still waiting for it. All told, my first winter in Georgia was pretty painless for which I’m incredibly grateful. Since spring arrived I’ve been taking full advantage of the weather, spending time outside exploring the area around Kutaisi. Tonight I even had dinner al fresco! I fear what this means for the summer but I’m going to live in the moment and just enjoy the nice weather we have now.
All in all, my life is pretty awesome. I honestly can’t remember when I was last this happy. Perhaps right before I moved away from New York City. Really looking forward to the warm months and taking advantage of all Georgia has to offer.