Look Before You Leap

I spent some time in Tunisia (that’s in north Africa for those who are having geography troubles) during college. One of the main things I remember being excited about was the chance to see real, live wild scorpions. Well, they told me the part of Tunisia I was in didn’t have scorpions and I would have to go further south. So I bought a consolation prize; a embalmed scorpion in a plastic casing.

Shoes are not usually worn in the house on this side of the world. Of course guests can come into the house with their shoes, but the people who dwell in the house customarily leave their shoes out side of the living areas and wear slippers inside.

One day I wanted to wear a pair of shoes that I hadn’t worn since coming back to Oz. They had been outside of my room on the patio. I saw evidence of a spider web in one of them so I decided to shake them out. I have seen those television programs where people get bitten by spiders in their shoes. Not this kid!!!

When I shook it out, I noticed that there was indeed a spider in the shoe! But it was funny looking. Like it was pregnant or something. So smashed it with the shoe, just hard enough to kill it, then inspected it closer.

It was a scorpion!!!!

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But it couldn’t be a scorpion… its too far north, right? Nope, it was a scorpion. I told Georgi about it, and he said they are all over the place.     …Okay.

P.S. According to the internet, Scorpions live and are indeed everywhere… except Antarctica.  One site even explicitly says ‘even in North Carolina’.  Chew on that.

***

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Gone Fishin’

I love fishing. I have since I was a little kid. I’m not the greatest in the world. Most times I come back with nothing at all. But fishing isn’t all about catching the fish. Part of it is sitting in the environment with oneself; reflecting.

There are several ways to fish. The most common way is with a bob. That’s a floater attached to the line. If a fish is trying to eat your bait, the bob moves. If the bob goes entirely underwater, that’s a good indication that you have a fish on the line. The bolt of electricity that goes through your body when the bob suddenly flinches after simply swaying on the currents of the water for ages is indescribable. You think to yourself, “Was it a fluke? Will it happen again? Please do it again.” But the worst let down is when you realize the culprits agitating your line are baby fish, that are so small, you are literally throwing your bait away.

Yesterday Georgi asked if I wanted to go fishing. I was super excited. There is a river really close to the house. As I went up to change clothes and prepare, he prepared the rods. He had two collapsible rods and one bamboo pole. I looked at the hook of one and I could barely see it. It reminded me of  a tiny needle for sewing. ‘How are we going to catch anything on this?’

Georgi, his cousin, Dereko, and I walked down to the river. Because of all the rain, the current was pretty swift. But under the bridge, we found a calm spot.  We could see down to the bottom of most pools and Georgi (after peering down) proclaimed, “There are fish here!”

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We assembled the rods and baited them. As soon as Georgi put his line in the water, he caught a fish! It was the tiniest thing ever. He put it into the bucket and that’s when I realized that was the scale of fish we were seeking. Literally finger sized.

Catching fish that small is not an easy thing. You can’t tug on the line like normal fish. The bait can’t be too big, either. And although you see the bob moving, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have ‘caught’ the fish. It could only mean a ton of little fish are fighting for and pulling on the bait. I only caught one fish in that area before we moved to another. At the next spot we caught a bucket full.

Dereko is kind of young; young enough to be clumsy with the rod and reels. He would hook other people, tangle the lines, and cause random careless mischief. But Georgi was always patient with him.

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The size of fish we were catching was slightly disappointing. But again, isn’t all about catching the fish. We had a great time.

***

Johnny’s daddy was taking him fishin’
When he was eight years old
A little girl came through the front gate holdin’ a fishing pole
His dad looked down and smiled, said we can’t leave her behind
Son I know you don’t want her to go but someday you’ll change your mind
And Johnny said “Take Jimmy Johnson, take Tommy Thompson, take my best friend Bo
Take anybody that you want as long as she don’t go
Take any boy in the world
Daddy please don’t take the girl.

Don’t Take The Girl, Tim McGraw

Bingo Was His Name, OH!

I don’t like dogs. Let that be said first; at the top.

There are stray dogs all over the place here in Georgia. They are in the cities and in the towns and villages. Being stray, they of course range from nasty and mangy to ‘simply lost’ looking. I mostly see them roaming alone, but occasionally they run in packs. That’s when I am most afraid. As a rule, Georgians hate and are afraid of dogs. Because of that they tend to intermittently run from or kick and throw things at them. So the dogs take the long way around when crossing paths with humans… safety first.

A few Georgians have dogs as pets in town. (It’s more common to have a dog for a pet if they live in the village for obvious reasons.) I unfortunately have a dog as a pet in my new host family. His name is Bingo.

He is an old dog and old dogs don’t like new people. For the first couple of meetings he barked at me constantly. I even did the ‘meeting new dog tricks’ of a) not acting fearful, b) talking nicely to him, and c) letting him smell my hand, which was lower than his nose.  Now, once I have been in the house for a while, he has stopped barking. But that doesn’t mean he has accepted me.

The other day he was hanging out on the patio and I passed him after being around him (and the house) all day. I went to scratch his head, and he snapped at me! Stupid dog. They thought he bit me. But he didn’t. I wouldn’t have taken that as easily. He would have become my mortal enemy.

So with that psychological damage, I am weary of coming close to him. He tends to sleep in the patio area, which we have to pass to go up the stairs. It’s like walking past a sleeping wolverine. And to make matters worse, at night it’s pitch black when walking downstairs to the bathroom with only my phone flashlight. I feel like I’m in a horror movie creeping down the stairs looking for that dog.  Is he under the stairs? Behind the door? Will I step on him leaving the bathroom?

None of the above has happened yet.

***

There was a farmer who had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o.
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
And Bingo was his name-o.

B-I-N-G-O, Camp Song

Monopoly

I was reading on the swing in the living room, when a kid comes into the yard and yells for Natia. It was her nephew coming to visit. (I can’t remember his name partly because it’s so difficult to pronounce.) He is a little younger than Georgi. He had brought a bag of game pieces and a folded up sheet of paper that had the game printed on it. They asked if I wanted to play. Sure.

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The game ended up being a Georgian version of Monopoly. But being Georgian…. different. I had played Monopoly in Turkey and the board was essentially the same but just in Turkish.  But this board was set up way different. I imagine because of copyright laws, although I can’t imagine Georgia not doing something because of international copyright laws. The number of properties was different. Where Mediterranean Ave and Baltic Ave are on the original version, there are three properties on the Georgian version. Instead of a jail, there is a Parking Lot. And obviously there are different rules for a parking lot.  And they have a free space where you can actually ‘rest’ for three turns. (I think they misunderstood the rules on this, because Georgi played where only one player could be in the space at any given time. And if another player did land on it while occupied, they had to forfeit whatever property the first player on the space wanted from him.)

Monopoly

Monopoly

And again as with the Turkish version, I couldn’t read anything on the board. But although I was at the mercy of them reading for me, I still won the game!

Ballin’!

***

I get money, money is got
I get money, money is got
Money I got, money is got (I run New York!)

I Get Money, 50 Cent

Supra Time

I was waiting to be called down for dinner, when Georgi came as said that we had guests. In addition to the nephew, there were also two other men. They were shy and not very chatty at first, and then the wine started flowing.

Supras are different depending on where you are in Georgia. Village supras are much more ‘drunkfests’ from what I gather from my friends. The supras in the towns (the ones I have been a part of) tend to be more subdued and chill.  That’s not to say the possibility of getting drunk is diminished. You can still get blitzed.

Pretty soon we were all telling jokes. Well, I contributed by telling the only one I know.

Without further adieu. Here is the best joke they told (or at least I remember):

***

A Georgian, French guy and an Englishman were shipwrecked on a deserted island. Fortunately for them, also washed up on shore were flasks of wine. When they went to open the first wine container, a Genie popped out!

“You know the drill, I usually grant three wishes.  As there are three of you, each of you can ask one wish and it will be granted to you.”

The French guy thought for a second and then asked to be home and off the deserted island. POOF! He disappeared. The Englishman was next. He thought for a second, and he, too asked to be home with his loving family. POOF! He disappeared. The genie turned to the Georgian who was last. The Georgian looked around him at all the flasks of wine and thought, It’s no fun to drink alone… “Bring them back!”

(It was better when they told it.)

Milk Does The Body Good

My host family has a cow. A pregnant cow… had a pregnant cow. The cow had a calf. I saw a movie once that inadvertently showed the birth of a horse or a cow (I don’t really remember, but it was a large farm animal). It was the most disgusting thing I had ever seen. So when my host father came home early from work yesterday because the cow was giving birth, I stayed away.

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But today, the calf was standing up already!

This is the last time I was rave about how happy I am about this bathroom. It is awesome! No longer do I have to wash my hands and face in the sink using cold water. They always have hot water going to the sinks and the shower!

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I noticed the houses are also different in that they other host home was a secure fortress. It had bars on all the windows and once locked up at night, there was no way someone was getting in. They even locked both outside doors to the upstairs corridor.  The new house doesn’t have a single bar on any window. And all of the rooms have a door to the outside, even the upstairs rooms. I need to ask about this difference.

***

My host mom offered me milk the other day. When she asked, I looked at her funny for a second. It was the first time I was ever offered milk in Georgia.

Since they have their own cow(s), the host mom makes all sorts of milk products right here at home.

The morning after our supra, I was parched and in desperate need of water. Everyone was still upstairs I had imagined. In the kitchen counter, there was a bottle of chilled water. Exactly want I needed. I went to touch it to make sure it was chilled… it was. Right then, the host mom came in with a basket of clothes to wash. (The washing machine is in the kitchen.) She told me that I couldn’t drink the water. I asked why, and she said it was not water.   Although it was clear as water, it in fact was some kind of sediment from the milk.

Close call! This could have been an entirely different post.

***

Having a cow

Best Bathroom Ever!

I finally ended my time at camp. I was counting down the last hours. Although the Sea was nice and calming, I can’t say that is was an overall positive experience.

My host father and brother came to pick me up and take me back to Oz. It was good to see them and extremely nice of them to pick me up.

Now that I’m here again, I have had the opportunity to look a little closer at my new environment. First the bathroom again. I can not express how impressed, happy and fortunate I am with their bathroom. Although they only have one and it’s downstairs, it is the best bathroom I have used since being here in Georgia. It’s big and clean. Everything in it is supposed to be in there. No random shit. Constant hot water, clean shower stall, all the tiles are clean and unbroken. There is enough room to actually change my clothes in the bathroom without them getting wet. There are clean places for me to store my toiletries, too.

My host mother is super cute and nice. She is much more social with me than my prior host mother, Eka. She knows very limited English (about the same as Eka), but she talks to me anyways. She talks really fast though, so it’s hard to catch pick up what she is saying. She is a great cook. She of course cooks within the Georgian style, but so far it seems she adds a twist to the normal dishes. Her most evident trait is her cleanliness. Everything in the house is as it should be and nothing out of place. And as I said before, the kitchen and bathroom are super clean and well kept.

Host mom, Natia

Host mom, Natia

My room is a lot more spacious than my room in the other house. And there is more storage space for my things. Although there is not a gas radiator in my room, I gathered that they will put heaters upstairs in the winter. Georgi, my host brother said that I would be warm. The negative things about my room are the one light socket is in a horrible place. It’s right beside the door next to the bed. So I will have to buy an extension cord to be able to use my computer at my desk. The other negative thing is the bed. It’s a double bed this time, but the springs are either old or really loose. There is too much give to where it takes on the shape of a hammock. I can tell already that my back will be sore if I continue to sleep on it as is. I have to talk with them soon about remedies.

My room

My room

DSCN4249Another negative about the house is the living room. There is no actual living room furniture. They have a swing, what I think is a chest to sit on and a dining room table with chairs.

And lastly, the house is pretty far (15-20 minute walk) from the center of town and therefore school. That’s slightly inconvenient but not too bad.

All in all, I feel I will be happy here.

Oh, they have a cow with a calf. The cow is also pregnant again. From what they tell me (and I saw with my own eyes), they let the cows out in the morning into the street, and they head up to their favorite hangout. Then at night, they head home.   …Cows.

***

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming

Coming Home, Diddy- Dirty Money