Happy Independence Day

May 26th is Georgian Independence Day. The day they celebrate the break from the Russian Empire in 1918. On this day they celebrate with festivals and concerts in all the major cities and towns.

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It was a rainy Sunday but that’s no reason to not go out and see the celebrations. Lado’s friends came to the house to get us to go to the town square. The concert was to start later, so the majority of the crowd was there to see the military’s gadgets and vehicles.

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Lado has a great interest in military planes, vehicles and guns. I don’t know which interest takes precedence; cars or military stuff. He knows the names of tanks, planes, and guns. And not only the Georgian ones, he also knows American military statistics. Maybe that’s what boys do. I vaguely remember being obsessed with the Porsche 911 and the F-14 jet plane growing up.  Hmm… now that I think about it, I remember making model airplanes.

So when we got to the guns on display, he looked like a kid in a candy store. Nika, like me, doesn’t really like guns and such. But he did let me photo him in an armored vehicle.

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Nika

They had various arts and craft stations out. The local community college apparently has a culinary class. They displayed some Georgian dishes with a modern twist. I really wanted to sample the caviar, but didn’t want to wait around in the rain for it. Lado was willing to wait in the rain, however. He only relented to leave when he recognized the ingredients of one of the finger sandwiches and resolved to come home to make it himself.  Unfortunately none of the ingredients he needed were at home.

The concert part of the celebration didn’t start until 5 that afternoon. This time the stage was outside in front of the theater. Which meant that we could see all of the dancers and singers that were to take part in the concert. There were a LOT of kids in a rainbow array of costumes lined up and ready to take part in the parade of performers. What I quickly noticed though was I had seen all of these performances before at the Oz kids’ Concert.DSCN3492DSCN3496DSCN3490

It was super hot outside, so I went home.

When I got to the house, the host dad was preparing to take Nino out to the festivities. She was in her cutie pie clothes. And was more excited about that than going to see the concert. The concert lasted well into the night and was concluded with fireworks… from what I could hear.

Happy Independence Day, Georgia.

***

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

US Declaration of Independence, 1776

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About Celebrations – Independence Day in Georgia (დამოუკიდებლობის დღე)

This is much better written than if I did it.

Georgia About

Georgia became part of the Russian Empire in 1800. On May 26, 1918, shortly after the collapse of the Russian Empire and in the midst of the Russian Civil War, it declared independence and The Democratic Republic of Georgia was created.

Independence was short lived. Unable to withstand an invasion by Soviet Russia the Democratic Republic of Georgia collapsed in 1921 and a Moscow directed communist government was installed.

Georgia became part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (TSFSR), uniting Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.  In 1936, the TSFSR was dissolved and Georgia became the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (Georgian: საქართველოს საბჭოთა სოციალისტური რესპუბლიკა).

Georgia remained a Soviet Republic until April 9, 1991, when it declared independence shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The flag of independent Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს სახელმწიფო დროშა), also known as the Five Cross Flag (Georgian: ხუთჯვრიანი დროშა) was adopted in January 2004.

Georgia Independence Day

Georgia About wishes all of our Georgian friends a very happy Independence Day!

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Canning

I like eating the homemade jam with my bread for breakfast and dinner. They can 6 to 9 different fruit jams. When one is finished, they go to the pantry and pop open another. The pantry is slammed full of canned fruits and vegetables. We just ran out of the jams canned from last summer. It’s amazing how they calculate it out. (I think I through off this winter’s estimates, though. I love that jam! I was killing it!)

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The first fruits are becoming ripe; cherries and a mini plum- bali.

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I came to Georgia on the tail end of last summer. So I didn’t really get to see the full production of canning the summer fruits.  But now they are cranking up the process.

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***

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, 
Old time is still a-flying: 
And this same flower that smiles to-day 
To-morrow will be dying.

To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time, Robert Herrick

Photuris Pyralis

I was taking a walk with Lado, Nika and another friend to the park at dusk yesterday. We took the usual path through an abandoned children’s hospital property. The yard is moderately grown over with weeds and rubble. As I turned the corner, the spark of the lighning bugs startled me for a second, then filled me with the deepest and giddiest  joy. I LOVE lightning bugs. They symbolize the happiest times of my childhood and to me are the silent announcers of summertime.

The lightning bugs are here…

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Not my painting. Nor is this the Republic of Georgia.

(http://noticenature.blogspot.com/2011/07/lots-and-lots-of-lightning.html)

Tbilisi Nights

I was standing in the door of the marshrutka. I had to decide in the next 2 minutes (before my Regional Representative got on the bus) if I wanted to go back to Oz that night or stay in Tbilisi with my friends. I have developed a great community back in Oz, and if I went back I would continue to save money. But on the other hand, it’s been a while since I’ve hung out with Erin and the crew. And it’s high time we created some new adventures. But on the other hand… I would have to take a public marshrutka back to Oz. My friends on the Oz bus didn’t help much. They were giving me advice from both sides.

I finally decided to get my bag out of the marshrutka and stay.

I went back up to the party hall, which was a little awkward after having said goodbye 10 minutes earlier. The weather was making me think twice about my decision to stay as it was threatening to rain. On a side note, we learned (or heard) that the site was in a microclimate…. whatever that is.

We also didn’t know where we would stay. But first things first- more wine.

We bummed a ride into Old Town from a TLG bus heading out of town in order to stay out of the rain. Our first destination was to find somewhere to stay. Envoy Hostel is in Old Town right under the Fortress. I had heard of it, but it was my first time staying there. Very nice! It was a little more expensive, but comfortable and clean accommodations. AND the bathrooms are new and clean! At the hostel we met some other folks doing a study program from Finland. After lounging for a bit, it was time to head out.

Erin

Erin

The great thing about walking around is you get more and more familiar with your surroundings. I now know exactly where the great shawarma stand is!

We decided to go to a place called The Rugby Pub. It is a little dive bar underground with cheap beer. We stayed there for a good while. The food was good and the waitresses were amusingly flirty.

My friend Marta (not the one who lives in Oz) surprised us by flying in from Poland. So she and her TLG group met us at the restaurant. It was really good to see and catch up with her. We had spent enough time at this bar so we decided to leave and meet them later.

Next stop was another dive bar, Salve. It, too, was underground. I was feeling good and decided to treat myself to a Rum&Coke, but she didn’t have any rum. She only had Vodka and cha-cha.  I got a vodka/ Sprite that turned out to be weak and warm.  Erin wasn’t having that, so she went to the market, got a bottle of Vodka and we mixed our own drinks.

It was time to start the dance party. They had a laptop and a DJ. But the DJ turned out  to not be a DJ, just someone standing by the computer. He even turned a song off at the good part so he could take a call. Party foul. As this seemed like a self serve music venue we warmed up the room with The Killers, then a couple of dance hits everyone knew, then got things started with Macklemore’s ‘Thift Shop’. Packed the dance floor with Robyn’s ‘Call Your Grilfriend’ …instant dance party!

But we wanted to dance for real, so next we went to Café Gallery. The set up was different. I guess it was because it was a weekday. There were tables where they used to not be in the middle of the floor. Our other friends met up there and we had the best time! Danced til 4 (or at least I did). Got a shawarma on the way home (very impressed they were still open at four in the morning). And crashed back at the hostel.

So glad I stayed!

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***

I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I – I – I’m hunting, looking for a come-up
This is fucking awesome

Thrift Shop, Macklemore

TLG End Of Year Conference Pt. II

On the second day we were transported to what seemed like a conference center. It was behind the British embassy on a hillside overlooking the city. The ceremony took place in a tent on the premise. Unfortunately,  Georgian absurdity followed us here.

The last of  Orientation Group #43

The last of Orientation Group #43

The purpose for the day was primarily to award us with certificates for completing the year.  I still don’t understand Georgians and their crazy love for certificates. If you offer a certificate, they will just about do anything.  The secondary reason for the conference was for the Minister of Education and other political officials.

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So to meet these ends, we got there early to ‘rehearse’. And by that I mean to practice walking to the stage, taking certificate, shaking hands and walking back to seat; ala high school graduation style. We were shocked and amazed that we really honest to God had to actually get up and walk through this.

When the Minister finally came, we started the show. Another party foul was half of the speeches we heard yesterday (and videos) were done AGAIN. By the end, I couldn’t figure out why I was restless. Then it hit me… we all were starving!

Finally it was time to receive the certificates, hence the end of the ceremony. They started calling names from them front (I was in the back). They were almost finished giving out all of the certificates, when it appeared they ran out of certificates! After some consulting, it was declared that the last 25 people who did not receive certificates had renewed their contracts and would receive one next year at the end of their contract. Ugh. I guess I’m falling in love with the certificates, too.

*Only two people from my group are renewing- Sibusy and me.

We were taken to a swank hall space and feed. The food was amazing and the more they bought out, the better it got. We were so hungry. We were like sharks with blood in the water. AND there was free Georgian wine.

It was time to depart. A lot of people were concerned with getting back to their villages from the drop off point. For example, the people in my bus would get to Oz around 10 at night. The marshrutkas would have stopped running by then, so they would have to find a taxi. It would have been more convenient to put us up for one more night and depart in the morning. But I guess that wasn’t thought though.

Erin and me.

Erin and me.

We said our goodbyes, and watched our friends disperse back to the far reaches of the country.

***

(I’m In this News Clip. Pause at the 0:21 second mark. See the girl in the red dress top center? Behind her head… to the immediate right… that’s me! Sitting to the left of the girl in the blue blouse.)

TLG End Of Year Conference Pt. I

We were all summoned to Tbilisi for an end of year ceremony. I kind of felt like we were CIA agents being called in from the cold. I was excited to see who all was left in this country.

The organization provided transportation for all of us. The people in my area met at the Resource Center in Oz, so it was easy for me. And because it was a private marshrutka, we made great time to Tbilisi.

Bazaleti Lake Hotel

Bazaleti Lake Hotel

We stayed at a hotel,  Bazaleti Lake Hotel, on the outskirts of the city. It was rumored they chose the place so we wouldn’t (couldn’t) go into the city after hours and party, but who knows. The Hotel was impressive. It was situated on a private lake. We stayed four to a suite. Spacious rooms and nice bathrooms- I liked it a lot. And the food was pretty good, too.

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When the program started, I was finally able to see us all together in one place. There are 154 of us left in the country… for now. They  start in taking recruits again in August. I honestly thought there were more of us. All of the Regional Representatives and key staff of TLG were there, too.  I don’t know why it was important for me, but I needed to have that image in my head.  Maybe because I didn’t have an accurate scope of the program’s size.

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We listened to speeches of some of the volunteer’s experiences, speeches of contest winners and their counterparts. The day’s program was ended with a trivia game.

It was really good to see old friends and make new ones. There are several social media groups that we communicate with each other through. It’s a great way to find out information and bounce ideas off each other. I communicate with these people all the time although I’ve never met the majority of them. I see their profile picture, but that’s all. So meeting them in real life was a little surreal. For example, two pseudo celebrities to me due to the Facebook pages are April C., administrator of one of the pages and Neil Z., who writes one of the blogs that I started reading even before coming to Georgia. It was good to have a conversation with them. It was good to meet new folks and find out their backgrounds and motivation for coming to Georgia.

One of the speakers for the first day was Robert… from North Carolina! I loved that.

After the first day’s meeting was over, we started the after hours festivities. There was no alcohol sold to us on the premise (which is another reason to host us here at the hotel), so we had to improvise.

Needless to say, the party got started and good times was had by all.

***

After the show it’s the after party, then,
After the party it’s the hotel lobby, then
After the Belve then it’s probably Cris,
And after the original it’s probably this

Fiesta, R.Kelly ft. Jay-Z