After a weekend of travel and a long week at school, I was looking forward to a relaxed weekend with my new host family. I was also looking forward to helping prepare vegetables to jar.
The crazy at school began on Thursday at 8am with my first meeting of “English Club”. I had expressed interest to my co-teacher about starting an English Club and had asked her to poll the students as to when a good time would be to have it. Wednesday right before heading home I was told that tomorrow at 8am 18 students were going to come to English Club. Needless to say all that evening I struggled to figure out what might interest 15-18 year olds. I decided on the toilet paper game. If you have ever been a freshman in a dorm or had to do some kind of “get to know you” activity, you know the game I am talking about. So, after having to get up around 6:30, I get to school at 8:00 and wait another 15 minutes for anyone to arrive. I was surprised that eventually about 12 students showed up. I pulled out my roll of toilet paper and everyone laughed and was confused as to what the crazy American was going to do. I tore off a few pieces and indicated the students do the same. They ended up only taking about two each. Each piece represents something that person has to tell about themselves. Due to the fact that there were only 12 students and only a few people took more than one piece, the game did not even last 15 minutes. Pictionary with the chalkboard came next. They did not seem to understand that when you get the object to draw, you do not immediately shout it to everyone. About half an hour later I decided to call it quites and asked what the students wanted to learn. They all seem to be obsessed with Michael Jackson, so this upcoming Thursday they are being treated to Michael Jackson music videos and an attempt at translating/explaining the lyrics.
My next surprise on Thursday was I was going to teach the 6th and 8th graders alone, that coteacher was gone. The 6th graders were on the best behaviour I have ever seen them, their home room teacher sat in the back of the room, and we read “Jack and the Beanstalk”, it was fun. The 8th graders, on the other hand, were a bit of a mess. Well, I did not think things were that bad until the Principle and Security Guards came into the room multiple times to tell the students to be quiet. My understanding of the situation was that students were clamoring to have me translate Georgian words for them and I do not think that is a bad noisy.
I had a very frustrating Friday at school, the schedule was changed without anyone thinking it might be important to let me know, so I ended up missing a class. I was not happy about that. I am beginning to see a pattern.
I finally got home and decided I was going to go for my first jog in Georgia. Oh, the stares I received and the honks and the calls out the window “ras aceteb?” (what are you doing). When I made it back the apartment I was not yet safe from the confused Georgians. My seven year old host sister called me a “pig” because of my bright red cheeks, and my host mother laughed in amusement. I will just have to get used to it.
Then the peeling, chopping and dicing began. I literally spent four hours cutting bell peppers, onions, garlic, and bundles of various herbs. Ea and I were preparing lobio to be jarred for the winter. Proof of my hard work came in the form of a blister on my index finger. It was midnight when I went to bed. I expected to spend Saturday morning helping cook and jar. Nope. Ea stayed up I do not know how long and finished it all. I was a little disappointed by that, I was hoping to see the whole process. Oh well. I am sure there will be a next time.
Saturday night we went to Ea’s sister’s, Lia’s, place. Lia cooked the biggest spread I have seen. There was fish, pork, quail that had been hunted by her husband, chicken, badrijani, mtsvane lobio, countless different cakes, chada (the best I have had yet), wine, compote (home made fruit juice that is too sweet for my taste), this very interesting grape-skin, sugar, plum paste (I did not like that one bit), bread, and tomato and cucumber salad. Everything, with the exception of the paste and compote, was delicious. Lia also took it upon herself to be tamada, and toasted with red wine, white wine, mchara (freshly made wine), and a homemade liqueur enough times to get me quite buzzed. She also took it upon herself to tell me to eat till I was fat. I have yet to figure out why this host family wants me to “get fat”. Ea has told me now I need to eat and get fat and I will get thin again in America. So, I ate a lot on Saturday night thinking that I would eat better the next day. Little did I know I was getting into.
I had known that Ea, Kvicha, Nino, Mari and I were going to Ea’s sopeli (village) on Sunday for a few days, but I thought we were just going to go for a few hours to have me pick grapes and stomp on them. Again, I really need to stop making assumptions. We left around 10 and did not get back until around 7. The village was an hour and a half away and that was a good 40 minutes on gravel/debris trails that cars drive on. We borrowed a jeep because the car would not have made it. Wow, beautiful. Ea’s village is in the highest part of Imereti in a low mountain range. The weather was warm, the sun was shining and I was picking grapes in Georgia. Awesome.
After picking grapes, we dumped them into a trough and then I was lead to an outside stove to watch khachapuri being baked. Sadly, I did not see the dough being made, but I saw the process. I will need to get the ingredients for the dough before I try and get into khachapuri baking. I was handed straight from the oven khachapuri. Heaven.
Next was another supra, where there was not quite as large a spread as the night before, but nothing to scoff at. Again, I was overfed.
Sunday’s tamada was Ea’s nephew and he spoke fairly decent English, so we drank strong red wine and toasted to our family, my being in Georgia, world peace, and I honestly do not remember. All I know is my glass was never left empty.
Finally, the supra was finished and the grape stomping began. I climbed into a stone trough, slipped into a pair of boots and clomped around. There does not seem to be a skill at all to it, just put on some boots and squish grapes. It is not easy though, because there is a suction that is created during the stomping.I have plenty of pictures that I will have to upload and my host family had a ball laughing at the American making wine.
At about 6pm we piled back into the jeep and headed home. What a weekend. Food, laughter, fun, wine and more food.