Sunday, November 18, 2007

PART V - Guria Region, In Pictures (Episode I). Or:

First things first: Our travel restriction has been lifted, so we're now allowed to leave our sites! Hooray! I will have a post this week regarding things I have learned from what will have been, by the time I actually leave Cho either for a meeting this week or for fun next weekend, almost a full month here in my village without leaving. Far from a purely facetious post, this post will actually share at least one exceedingly interesting musing. Interesting to me, at least, which means you will only pretend to be interested so as not to hurt my feelings.

Second things second: Egregiously, I neglected an etiquette lesson in my Emily Post. Here it is: when your tutor slash translator slash ECO Club leader says, in the middle of an otherwise perfectly normal sentence, a word that I will not stoop to repeat on this blog but which rhymes with "Phil Doe," it is proper etiquette not to call attention to this moment at all, even though the word could not have been said more clearly, because she obviously meant to say something else, even though you haven't the foggiest what that something else could possibly have been. You are, then, required to feel bad that you told two people about this incident immediately, on the internet. After all, you have surely said something just as bad in the five months you've been in a foreign country attempting in utter vain to speak foreign words coherently. I mean, the language you attempt to speak contains such tripwires that if you even say the words "your" and "mother" in the incorrect order, which happens to be the CORRECT order in English, you are not saying, "your mother" so much as you are saying, "your mother, with whom I spent the night having wild monkey sex in a dirty motel, which she enjoyed very much indeed." So a simple "Phil Doe" must be immediately forgiven and forgotten about.

Speaking of speaking, last night I had the opportunity to watch my host brother's wedding video, which contains footage of my famous toast. I have never wanted to sprint from a room more quickly in my life. Friends, if you think your voice and/or verbal cadence sounds weird and annoying when you see or hear yourself speaking in your NATURAL language, BOY is it worse than that with a language you DON'T speak. I thought I had delivered this address with aplomb and flair. It turns out I delivered it with about ten seconds of silence between each word. This is an exaggeration, but it didn't seem like one when I was watching. My new life goal is to destroy every piece of video evidence that this toast ever happened. Incidentally, if you think watching wedding videos can get boring when you are watching them in your natural language, they're even more fun when you're watching them in a language you don't speak. First, we watched the video from my host brother's wedding two weeks ago -- 95% of which I did not understand the FIRST time. Then, we watched his sister's wedding from six years ago, of which I understood just as little. Three hours of fun, friends! The only redeeming factor is that seeing what people looked like six years ago is funny in all languages, and we all had a good laugh at my host brother, who looked like Beaver Cleaver in a snappy vest. My laughter was tinged with melancholy after I recalled that evidence exists of what I looked like six years ago. So.

Here, then, after a much-longer-than-intended intro, is Episode I of Part V of Better Know a Georgia! Episode I is subtitled, "Places in Chokhatauri I Was Not Too Lazy to Walk to as I Walked to My Office Today." Later Episodes of Part V will include photographs of elsewhere in Chokhatauri (although there is not much elsewhere in Chokhatauri; what you will see here is pretty much what you get) as well as elsewhere in Guria, if I travel to them anytime soon. Another episode, possibly this week, will consist of what factual information I have about Guria region, which is, it goes without saying, indubitably the best region in Georgia, if we're judging by number of American Peace Corps volunteers with fluffy beards who live there (Guria: 1).

As you can see from this photo, Guria is a heavily wooded region, as opposed to more eastern regions, and is also greatly characterized by foothills. It is also the leading citrus-growing region in Georgia. That citrus tree -- it doesn't grow oranges, but some other citrus fruit that I've never seen elsewhere, the name of which I don't know -- is either in my yard or the neighbor's yard; I don't remember exactly which tree this is.

You can see some of the larger mountains in the background of this photograph, which displays a typical street in the rural areas of Georgia, which Guria can be described to be. Almost all families own houses that have been in their extended families for a long time, with large gated yards where they grow grapes and have expansive fruit and vegetable gardens. Those yellow pipes are gas lines, which have recently been installed in Chokhatauri, entirely above-ground, and which, most importantly, feed into the two Karma heating devices in my house.

A photograph of one of those typical rural Georgian homes; the external staircase is, oddly, present in an overwhelming majority. I don't know why. The second floor balcony that overhangs the door on the first floor is also a highly usual feature. This is, incidentally, not MY house, because I will not allow you to pin me down that easily.

It rains a lot in Guria.

This is a roadside display on my way to work, displaying the flags of the European Commission, Georgia, and Israel. Your guess is as good as mine, on this one.

This is, I think, the only apartment building in Chokhatauri. Guria is the smallest region in Georgia, with only one town that could really be called a town -- Ozurgeti, the regional center -- and two town/villages, of which Chokhatauri is one. This does, however, look like what apartment buildings in Georgia tend to look like, which is, totally tenement-y on the outside. The apartments inside these buildings usually look far nicer than what you'd expect from the outside. Although I have not been inside this particular building, so I wouldn't know, here.

This is the center of town, which is dominated by a large, burnt-out building, fronted with a row of flags. I've been told what this building used to be, but have forgotten. It may have had something to do with manufacturing. I should probably ask these questions before posting such non-information. The flags are alternating Georgian and European Commission flags. Georgia really, really, really likes Europe.

This is the center of Chokhatauri, seen from in front of the burnt-out building. There is a small park between the two lanes of the road; the shop I always go to is in the greenish-blue building, and my office is in the gray building you can just see past it.

This is a bust in the middle of the small park. I don't know who it depicts. I should probably ask more questions about things.

These side-of-the-road crosses are everywhere in Georgia. You Illinoisers - it's like that giant cross in Effingham, except they're much more tastefully small and none of them try to drum themselves up as a tourist attraction! This one is one of the first things you see as you enter Chokhatauri from the east, although this photo was taken from the west.

The small ravine that contains the creek running behind my office, and the mountains in the distance.

More photos to come tomorrow, as I should really be leaving the office and getting home. After all, given not being able to leave Cho and the fact that my office grants me weekend internet access, I come in here most weekend days, and I believe this is the 14th consecutive day I have come in. I probably look like a workaholic to everyone, when in fact I spend my time uploading pictures to Blogger and talking about sports with people in America. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone. But DO tell everyone this:

#19 ranked Illinois Football: 9-3, likely headed for their first New Years' Day game in six years
#2 ranked UCLA Basketball: 3-0
Illinois Basketball: 2-0
#21 ranked Southern Illinois Basketball: 1-0

Why did I decide to come over here where there is no sports television, again? Oh, right: because there IS Georgian-language "Survivor," which I saw on television last night. I took it as an opportunity for cross-cultural education, and I showed my family what I would do with "Survivor" in America: I completely ignored it because it's silly.

No comments: