(I’m not breaking up this post into smaller ones, so sit down, its gonna be a long one.)
Today was as expectedly unexpected, a packed day of new experiences and observations. So let’s get started, shall we?
First off, I did not eat cow brain or stomach. I didn’t bring it up again, of course, but I think they were referring to the hotdog/ sausages we ate for breakfast.
Secondly, Georgians who do speak English here are something similar to secret double agents. You can’t tell be looking at them (obviously) nor do they just come out with it, even though you are obviously struggling to string together two words that might convey something close to an understandable sentence. Maybe they are just waiting to see just how pathetic I am, then say to themselves, “Well damn, I’m at least not as bad as this poor sap.”
I knew that some relatives crashed for the night in Lado and Nika’s room across from mine. But I woke up to a random dude coming out of their room. I was startled for a second but recovered and greeted him in Georgian, and he responded with “Hello, how are you?” Turns out more people came in last night after I had gone upstairs. Namely the host mother’s niece and nephew (and his wife). All of which could speak some level of English. That’s when we had the breakfast supra for them.
After they left, the host father told me that his nephew had fallen off a bridge and broke all his bones. They were going to visit him today in two hours and asked would I like to go with. Hmmmm….. YES! All his bones? This can’t be true. Must investigate.
For some reason I thought it was in walking distance, but no. We got in the car (father, mother, grandmother, Nino, and myself) and headed off. Grandma had even baked a cake.
We drove out of the town of Ozurgeti and went to a neighboring village. There we went into the house and saw the kid stretched out on the bed. He wasn’t disfigured. He didn’t even look hurt. He didn’t break every bone. Just some major ones in his legs. The story goes, he was walking along and didn’t see the road ending or something like that. Anyway, he plunged down “9 meters” to the pavement below, shattering lower extremity bones.
We sat in his room chatting while his little old grandmother ran around preparing lunch. She was soo cute! Super excited to have an America in the house. She kept rubbing my head and pinching my checks.
I want to try to explain a phenomenon I experience on a daily basis, but for some in the program it IS their experience in totality. So I am fortunate enough to have a host brother who can speak English pretty well and a host father who given time, can communicate effectively. But there comes times in my day when they speak totally in their native language and don’t give me a second look. For example, when they are around their friends and family. Which is totally to be expected.
You try to do your best to be attentive and try to read every nuance for some type of connection you can make in your mind as to what they are saying. As time goes on and on, you think you hear words that sound like English words, and try to make context clues with those ‘words’. Time goes on and on…then your mind simply gets tired of such concentration and begins to wander. Time goes on and on…then the words just becomes a blur of mumble and you go off into your own head, until you distinctively hear your name come up in conversation, and you are snapped back to attention again. Or they abruptly stop talking and say, “SANCHEZI!!! LET’S GO!”
I was still full from the breakfast supra, but I couldn’t let this old lady’s hard work go to waste. So I ate again.
We left that home and I felt pretty good about visiting another Georgian home to get perspective. I noticed we took a detour from how we got to the village. The host father informed me we were going to the town that the mineral spring water we just drank comes from. (I hate mineral water).
We dodged some cows driving into the next valley and along a mountain ridge. He stopped abruptly and started looking up a tree covered mountain peak. “That’s where my mother grew up. In a village on that mountain.” Holy hell. I couldn’t see any houses much less a road or path. He said there are only footpaths to reach it. Okay.
A little further up, we stopped at a house on the side of the road. The grandmother’s brother’s house.
My real maternal grandfather and grandmother grew up in an impoverished agricultural setting; Wadesboro, North Carolina. It’s still not a booming metropolis by any means. This house in Georgia reminded me of that (mixed with some West Virginia).
I had not previously been to ‘village’ life this. This was rural as rural can get. Staying with the old man were a woman (whose connection I could not discern), and two boys visiting for the summer from Batumi. Come to find out the older of the two could speak English just fine.
So this was one of the village properties Lado alluded to when saying they had family lands. After they fed us too, we packed up several jugs of mineral water, an urn of honey pears and apples. In a month, we will return to assist with the wine making.
Speaking of North Carolina, the host dad showed me a grape varietal that he said came from America. Low and behold, it was a blast from my past of running around in my youth at my grandma’s house in Wadesboro. I tasted again for the first time in decades a Scuffindine Grape! (or that’s what we called it)
We headed home in the night, still dodging cows and pigs.
The host father turned on a CD. It was a mix of Rihanna, Brittney Spears and other top 40 artist. Okay.
He blasted it all the way back to Ozurgeti. We stopped to buy a watermelon at a vendor and he left the music blaring.
After a minute, the host mom gestured for me to turn it down, “It’s bursting my eardrums!”
“Mine too, deda, mine, too.”
“I’m a little bit country
And I’m a little bit rock ‘n roll
I’m a little bit of Memphis and Nashville
With a little bit of Motown in my soul
I don’t know if it’s good or bad
But I know I love it so
I’m a little bit country
And I’m a little bit rock ‘n roll”
A little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘n Roll, Martin Cooper