Cuttino's Georgian Life

A journal of my Peace Corps service in the Republic of Georgia, 2006-2008.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Alive in Georgia!


Gamarjoba friends! I am safe and sound in the land of Sakartvelo. We arrived just over a week ago and it has taken me this long to find an internet connection. Earlier, I wrote that I would be in Gori, home of Stalin. I’m with a group of ten Peace Corps Trainees in Khashuri, a town about an hour away. Once a week, we travel to Gori to meet with the large group and receive homework and vaccinations, among other things.

Life here in Khashuri is pretty peaceful. I’ve only been here a few days and I’ve already fallen into a routine. We have class Monday through Saturday starting at 9:00; the Peace Corps has decided to schedule 122 hours of language training—a year-long course of Georgian crammed into nine weeks. So, after three days of study, I can write the alphabet, conjugate the verb “to be” and I (sort of) understand pronouns. I have decided that Georgian or “Kartveli” in the mother tongue is the strangest language on earth. Start with the alphabet. . . We’ve come up with ways to remember the letters like “the fish on the hook” or “a 3 with a tumor.” Look at the alphabet and see for yourself. To make things more difficult, the language rarely uses vowels, so we have words like “tkqveni” (you) or “tkhra” (nine). Its sometimes difficult to tell whether you’re speaking Georgian or clearing your throat. Georgians are extremely proud of their language; and rightfully so—its one of the oldest languages in the world.

For the next nine weeks, I’ll be living with a host family in Khashuri. I live with Zura, my host father, Eka my mother, and Giga and Nika my host brothers—12 and 13 years old. Zura’s mother also lives with us; it’s not uncommon to have multiple generations living together. We also have an amazingly well-behaved black lab named Simba. Like many houses in Khashuri, my house is two stories and spacious. Each house has a yard with grapevines and rose bushes. Khashuri is a big town, but my road is not paved and I occasionally see cows or a goat herd wandering around. Most of the infrastructure in the town is in bad shape, so it’s surprising that the houses are so nice. Like in Russia, you can never judge a building from the outside.

Georgians pride themselves on their hospitality, and my host family is no exception. My host father speaks Russian, so I’ve been able to fit in a little easier. The ice broke as soon as I tried to speak Georgian. They are quite amused by my efforts; the boys find it hilarious that I read like a kindergartner. The longer I stay here the more comfortable they are with me. Today I went on a walk around town with Giga. He attempts to communicate with me using what little English and Russian he knows. Nika, on the other hand, has given up and talks to me in Georgian as if I understand every word. They took me to play video games at a neighbor’s house yesterday and they want me to go to the internet café to play “Counterstrike” with them soon. Even in Georgia, video games and a twelve year old’s favorite pastime.

Take care,



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