There are two volunteers posted in Kutaisi who were in my original orientation group and last semester we often went to a particular khinkali restaurant that we call the “Best Khinkali in Kutaisi” restaurant. We always order the same thing- 10 khinkali, garlic fries, and some form of beverage. It always ends up being 5 lari per person, it is a wonderful set up. Since the beginning of the new semester, there have been many more new volunteers in Kutaisi and this restaurant cannot support a large crowd and so we have not been to it in awhile. Anyway, the three of us decided we needed some time to ourselves to relive the “good ole days” of it being just the three of us, so we went to the “Best Khinkali in Kutaisi” and ordered the usual.
We were just having our usual ridiculous conversation that covers nearly everything and anything imaginable when a gentlemen comes up to us and in a southern drawl asks where we are from. Two of us are from the US and the third is from Ireland. The gentleman says he is from the state Georgia and asks why we are around. We explain the program and all that good stuff and he goes on to explain that one month every year he comes to Georgia for work. He helps the Georgians grow blueberries. Yep. He helps the Georgian people grow blueberries. It is a pretty sweet sounding get up because he gets to travel all over the country, meet interesting Georgians, eat Georgian food and drink Georgian wine without being in the country long enough to become utterly sick of it.
He eventually sat down to eat his meal and also left us to finish ours. On his way out he says goodbye and wishes us luck in our adventure None of us really think anything of it, just that he was a nice guy.
As we tried to get our bill the staff said that we did not have one. We thought this meant that we would just have to have them calculate it at the counter for us. We were wrong, it meant that it had been paid for. Thank you Blueberry Man! What a pleasant surprise and I wish he had stuck around so that I could thank him!
After dinner the Irishman went home and my California friend and I went to sit in a park to chat some more. The first surprise in the park was that my aerobics instructor from Olimpi walked up with her adorable daughter. She, of course, chatted away at me in Georgian and I understood maybe 25% of it. Eventually she wandered away to talk her daughter to play on the slide and swing.
The next surprise, or not surprise, came when two older (white haired), smoking Georgian men sat on the bench next to us and started to chat. How many times must I have the conversation with a Georgian about where I am from, why I am in Georgia, how long I have been in Georgia, that I like Georgian food, that Georgian people are nice….etc. Eventually one of the men got up and left for a bit. The other one, who was totally unintelligible, kept asking us who knows what while I kept on responding that I did not understand. The man who left returned with two mini bars of chocolate. He handed a dark chocolate bar to my California friend and said to her “shen, tsota shavi” (you are a little black) and handed me a white chocolate bar and said “shen, tetri” (you are white). We could not stop laughing and barely managed to thank the man as he left to do whatever it was he had been doing before. We decided it was a good time to leave. Alas, the man who had given us chocolate decided he needed to give us some important advice about the park we were in. He was telling us how we should exit from the side of the park because a lot of drunk people hang out in the front part, already knew that but appreciate it. Then he thought it important to tell us that we were “kargi gogoebi” (good girls) and that he had a car and would drive us to Mestia, Batumi or anywhere! Calling us good girls is not going to get us to get into a car with you. Americans do not tend to be that trusting. Might work on a Georgian, but I doubt that.
So in one evening, I had my dinner paid for by an American Georgian (from the state) and was given a small bar of white chocolate because I was white while my friend, who is half Spanish, was given a dark chocolate bar….Just too many adventures! What ever will I do when I leave?