Batumi 2012, Remembered…

The boys of #43 saying goodbye. Batumi 2012

The crew of TLG #43 are the best ever. After all of the shenanigans we got into and the memorable experiences of those few days in Batumi, this moment captures the emotion perfectly.


“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.  For in the dew of little things the heart finds it’s morning and is refreshed.” – Khalil Gibran



Building Bridges

I have officially won over little, Nino.

I came down to hang out on the couch while the grandmother and grandfather watched news last night. Nino was cautious of me, as all 4 year olds are to strangers (especially ones who speak jibber-jabber and can’t understand what you are saying). While I was there, she was playing with some building blocks on table.  Slowly but surely, she started to respond to my overtures to play. Then she started bringing all of her toys over one by one; leaving the prized baby dolls for last, of course.

I responded in kind by bringing out my IPad and showing her the only game I have (not even downloaded by me) a bike racing game. Fun enough. She sympathized with how horrible I was in crashing every single time. What hooked her; however, was the drawing board. I showed her how the finger draws, how to change colors and how to erase. Done. I couldn’t get her off me. And then the camera option! Forgetaboutit.

Me and NIno

Today she even started talking to me. I have no idea what she is saying, but she is saying it with such earnestness. As another show of trust, she tried singing her ABC’s in English. (She rocked the A through G part and did serious work on the LMNOP part. everything else was, well… lets just say, cute). She helped me with hanging my clothes on the line. And wouldn’t let her middle brother play ball with us.

Mission accomplished.

They grow their own fruit here (I think I said that before). They said pick off anything you see anytime and you can have and eat. They have peaches that are sooo sweet and the grapes are so juicy they constantly stain my hands.

Lado was gone today, so I took the opportunity to get to know Niko better. He is a sweet spirit. The kind usually demonstrated by boys that age. I really want to work on his English. We played on the IPad and played some soccer and basketball (a tiny hoop screwed perpendicular to the concrete wall.)

Today was a great day of building bonds.

My real blood brother, Mario, asked to tell more about the family and post pictures of them. They are in the photo album in the right menu called “My New Home”. A picture of the dad is in another album, and I haven’t been able to capture the mom just yet.

The father is the executive or director at a local branch. He does very well financially I think. The mother is a stay at home mom. And the grandparents (grandfather) is retired. The grandfather tinkers around the house all day working on his car mostly. I saw him dismantling the downstairs toilet today.

Speaking of toilets, this country really needs to get on board with the concept of quality toilet paper. Thank god i bought some Cottonelle before leaving Tbilisi. Lifesaver… or ass-saver. HeHe.

“J5: ABC
Michael: Easy as…
J5: 123
Michael: Or simple as…
J5: Do Re Mi
Michael: ABC, 123, baby, you and me girl!
Michael: Easy as…
J5: 123
Michael: Or simple as…
J5: Do Re Mi
Michael: ABC, 123, baby, you and me!”

ABC, Jackson Five

Batumi 2012

So we decided to plan for a trip to Batumi for a friend’s B-day (and to see each other again). As most of us are on the west coast of Georgia, I think we were all excited to go see Batumi, a city on the Black Sea.

So we made the appropriate arrangements and travel plans and descended upon Batumi on a Monday morning. We found somewhere to stay, Batumi Globus Hostel, and made it our command post.

From there things become blurry.

I will transmit as memory comes back into focus.  In the meantime, enjoy some pictures!

Motion Sculpture, “Ali and Nino”. Batumi Beachfront.

Here’s a conversation with Hostel desk clerk:

Me: Uh… excuse me, but water isn’t working in our part of the hostel; the 18 bed room.

Chick at desk: Is the kitchen sink working?

Me: [Go to kitchen sink… not working. Return] No. It’s not working either.

Clerk: Oh. It’s raining. Water usually stops working when it rains.

Me: ….   Okay

An Unexpected Supra

Visiting Brooke zapped the energy out of me; a combination of the heat and the Tcha- Tcha. Knowing I would be meeting the girls early to take the train to Batumi, I planned to shower, relax, blog and get a good night’s sleep.  I should have gone straight to my room. But instead I hung out with the grandparents while they dehusked nuts. (Did I mention they sold nuts as a side income?)

When I saw the host dad, I reminded him that I was going to Batumi for a couple of days. He said to me, “Get dressed. We get drunk.’  Okay.

I thought it was going to be just him and me. But Nino, my host sister was dressed in an adorable white and pink dress. The mom came, too. Off we sauntered into the warm night air. We stopped to say hello to the neighbors who were out and the host dad, Levon, showed me town landmarks.

We went through this sketchy neighborhood and came up to this heavy mafia looking dude. He was standing in an unlit building entryway smoking a cigarette. Fortunately, this was the location and Levon knew the shady looking guy, or this post would have been titled something totally different. The mafia-esque man, hugged and kissed me like we were old friends, and even held my hand up the stairs all the way up to the front door of the apartment. Inside more introductions were made for me and it became clear we were celebrating the birthday of Levon’s godson. Another supra in the same day.

Again as before, the food was delicious. The people were overly gracious. Toast upon toast was made and Levon did an amazing job of translating. The baby was serenaded and loved on. Another plus for me was I made strides towards winning over Nino.

At this supra, the famed traditional ‘horn’ came out. After I took about two toasts with that, several shots and Lord knows how many never ending refills of my wine glass, I was lit. But again they were mindful of me and didn’t try to push me over the edge.

Somewhere in a toast to me, it was translated: “You have a very nice face.”  I’ll take it.

It was the best supra thus far!

I didn’t see the mom and Nino leave, but it was just Levon and I going home together We both were stuffed and tipsy. We were en route home when Levon approached and started talking to this random convenience store worker. After a couple of exchanges, we got into his car where there were two women. The thoughts that went through my head are probably the same thoughts you are thinking, ‘This has the potential to have a very shady end.’

But all was well, he was a neighbor, and Levon just didn’t want to walk all the way back home. So much for a restful evening. On to Batumi 2012!!!

The Shower-Revisited

So it turns out, I was not doing the shower wrong in Tunisia. (See ‘A Place To Hang My Towel’)

Levon showed me again how to use the bath and shower (as he didn’t know Lado showed me).  He just whipped the faucet on, transferred flow over to shower sprayer and right onto the floor! And in the Batumi hostel (posting about that soon), no tub to speak of. Water straight onto the floor!


And without further delay:




This cow was actually on the road in Brooke’s village, so it really doesn’t count. The best ones are seen while in a vehicle. But i’m nervous to just whip my camera out. I’ll figure something out.

Sanchez goes to the Village

So my friend Brooke lives in a village on the outskirts of Ozurgeti. She invited me over and I accepted. I wanted to get a closer look at this ‘village’ life. Fortunately, her host brother was in town, so he escorted me back to their house. Nice guy.

**** Editor’s note:

There are so many wacky things that happen every single day that I would be writing a novel, trying to tell it all. So I think I will just do major story lines. And post the crazy stuff when I can fit it in.

So to draw a comparison towns are tiny cities. The houses are much like suburbs in that they are close to each other in that sense and the houses in tight proximity to the market/ town-center.  Pretty much anything can be bought in town, and then there are the civic institutions (police, hospital, judge, etc.) Villages are strictly agricultural based and the homes are more sporadic and spread out than towns. They usually have a general store, school and church. The homes don’t necessarily always have the basic utilities.

I came while Brooke doing wash. Comical. After hanging clothes on line, she gave me the tour.

Brooke’s host house is very spacious. To the point that it seemed to outpace the accumulation of furniture. It was like they were preparing for a lot more people to move in. Brooke and I sat and chatted while the mom started to prepare the onslaught of food. First came the chocolate, then the fruit and tea then the famed Tcha-Tcha.

Tcha- Tach is homemade liquor; similar to what Southerners know as moonshine. I have gathered that it’s made from the remnants of the waste of the wine-making procedure. This is the evil twin to the sophisticated Georgian wine.

Brooke’s host uncle brought it out and I got really excited, as I haven’t had it before. Brooke said this was the first time she was offered it as well. By this time another friend, Jess, from TLG had showed up as well.


Man o’ man. They say there is ‘clean’ Tcha-Tcha and there is the other kind. This was the other kind. It hurt and tasted toxic. I only had a half shot glass to start off and chased with water and watermelon. The uncle coaxed me to another touch. I think I wanted to make sure it tasted as bad as I thought the first time. I was correct.  It almost immediately sent me spinning.

The food continued to pour in and crescendoed with an amazing Supra. The food was SOOO good.

First time Tcha-Tcha.

But alas, we had to get Jess back to town to buy a modem before the story closed. (Unbeknownst to us, it was closed anyways; Sunday).

So we bid the village a fond farewell.

“Moving to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches
I’m Moving to the country, I’m gonna eat me a lot of peaches
I’m Moving to the country I’m gonna eat a lot of peaches
Moving to the country I’m gonna eat a lot of peaches”

Peaches, Presidents of the United States of America