Summer in Georgia

Just tonight I returned to Kutaisi after being away for 27 days. And since my last post on July 3rd, I’ve probably been home a total of one week. It has been a crazy summer. And it feels so good to be home. But I’ve also had a lot of fun. And while I can’t maintain the energy level that has been required of me for the past month and a half indefinitely, I’ve enjoyed my time traveling about Georgia tremendously. So here is a rundown of what I’ve been up to since my last blog post:

1. July 4th weekend I spent a few days in Kobuleti, a resort town on the Black Sea, with some fellow Peace Corps friends. We had hot dogs. I made potato salad. And we even made smores. Sadly, my camera was the casualty of a rogue wave. It is now back in the States in the hopes of being repaired. It would be sad to finish out my time in PC without a camera to document it. I’m hoping the repair doesn’t break me.

2. My friend Marjory came to Georgia to visit me for a week from July 12-19. She is a Rochesterian who joined the Peace Corps just six weeks after me and is serving in Moldova. We met a few months before we both left and have kept in touch to compare notes throughout our service. In her short week here, we managed to see quite a few things. We headed to Racha for a taste of mountain village life replete with a supra and way too much chacha. Then we headed to Kazbegi which is a stunning area in Georgia and is a popular tourist destination. I wish I had had my camera. The next day we visited Uplistsikhe, near Gori, which is an ancient cave city and one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia (which means it is REALLY old). We then finished up the week in Tbilisi where we attended the Swearing-In Ceremony of the G14 group of Peace Corps volunteers in Georgia. The best part of the ceremony was that Marjory finally got to see a Georgian dance performance which is always a treat.

3. The weekend after Marjory left, I was back in Tbilisi again beginning my 27 day marathon away from home. First stop, my friend Eddie’s wedding. Eddie is from Philly and works in Georgia for the Teach and Learn Georgia program, a Georgian volunteer English teacher program. He lived in Kutaisi until January when he moved to Tbilisi to be near his Georgian fiancé. It was my first Georgian wedding and it was a ton of fun. A traditional supra (for at least 100 guests), toasts, and Georgian dance. But we brought a little bit of American crazy with us by jumping into the pool fully decked out in our wedding attire. I may or may not have been the first one in the pool. The Georgians were happy to follow though.

4. Two days later I was headed to our Mid-service Training in Bakuriani (a ski town in the winter). The G13s (my group) met to reflect on our first year of service and what we want from our second year. Given all of the reflection, it was actually a bit of a heavy conference. Typically these gatherings are a time to let loose with fellow PCVs for a bit (along with whatever else is on the agenda). This one seemed to lack that quality. Partly because many of the sessions were rather emotionally heavy and partly because everyone was super busy with work on upcoming camps, committees, etc. Turns out, July is really a terrible time to have a conference for PCVs. Summer is busy, yo! Following the conference, I was back in Tbilisi for one day to fill in at a SPA (small program assistance) committee meeting. I’m an alternate on the committee so this was my first opportunity to attend a meeting. SPA gives out small grants (up to $5000) to Peace Corps members for projects. It was interesting to finally see the internal workings of the decision making process.

5. And finally, on August 2, I headed to Tskneti (a suburb of Tbilisi) for GLOW camp where I stayed for 19 days. There are two camps which we ran back to back with only a day and half break between the two. It was exhausting but totally worth it. GLOW will get its own post shortly (likely this weekend). It deserves its own post. It is by far the best thing I am doing in Georgia.

After GLOW was over, I stayed in Tbilisi for two nights just to enjoy some good food and hang out with friends. I didn’t feel in any rush to get home. But tonight, when I walked into my apartment, an incredible feeling of relief and happiness came over me. I didn’t expect to be so happy to be home. More than anything, I guess I’ve missed my solitude, as I have been sharing a room with someone every night with the rare exception for the past 27 days. My plan is to spend the next two days completely alone. It sounds like heaven.

Lest you think I’ll be slowing down now as summer is beginning to wrap up…not a chance. Next weekend I’ll be headed to Kobuleti again for a few days at the beach. The last of the summer. The following weekend, I’ll be taking a four day weekend to go to Tusheti, one of the most beautiful and remote areas of Georgia. Once again, so sad not to have my camera. The following weekend is the annual back to school camping trip at Shaori Lake in Racha. It is a last splash summer trip with fellow PCVs before the education volunteers start back to school. Then I’ve promised my PST host family that I would visit them in Khashuri the following weekend. And the final weekend of September, I will be in Tbilisi again for a GLOW Strategic Planning Meeting with the board. And that brings us to October which hopefully will be a bit quieter until I go to Wales for a week on October 16th. So, it seems this is my last weekend at home (once again) for quite a while. I plan to take full advantage. On the plus side, I haven’t even been home enough to notice that most of my Kutaisi friends are gone.

Someday my life will be quiet again. So, I’m just going to embrace this chaos while it is here.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, in the midst of all of this, the Terjola Day Care Center grant was fully funded! So now we can begin the renovation work. I’ll be sharing photos of that when the project is complete. Thank you to everyone who supported the project!

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