Cuttino's Georgian Life

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Up the Mountain

Gamarjoba friends!

I’ve finally found a way to get dial-up internet in my house, so finally I don’t feel so isolated. Yes, I now have a cell phone, a laptop and internet…this ain’t your grandfather’s Peace Corps. My host family is fascinated by my typing skills--as I write this, my host father and host brothers are staring at my fingers. I guess the typing training in elementary school is good for something.

Well, there’s much to tell you all about, I’ll try to remember everything. The biggest event of training in the past two weeks has been our cultural trips. This was a chance to finally travel anywhere in Georgia we wanted (except for the forbidden zones and the capital). I went with a group to Bakuriani, a ski village up in the mountains about an hour away from my town. We loaded up in a minibus (they use the Russian word “marshutka”) and headed up the mountain, going much faster than I thought was possible while dodging cows, goats and potholes.

Once we got to Bakuriani, the group headed out for lunch and then took a hike up the mountains. We made it about two hundred feet up one of the slopes before it started pouring. We found an abandoned shelter—more or less a concrete bunker—and took cover to wait out the storm. When it became apparent that we were going to be there for a while, we popped open the wine we had bought and had a proper Georgian party. That night, we were able to cook our own meal; although, our hostess was horrified when she saw that I was cooking the macaroni and pelmini in the same pot.

Here’s a picture of our group in Bakuriani, looking very candid:

On the way back down the mountain, we stopped in Borjomi for lunch. Borjomi is a beautiful town surrounded by mountains. Its claim to fame is its mineral water—a salty carbonated beverage. Let’s say that the water is an acquired taste. Personally, I’m a fan…it’s available in the US at international groceries. Go and try it for yourself, or just add a tablespoon of salt to soda water. A side note—Borjomi is bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics. In fact, they are building an Olympic-standard ski slope in Bakuriani. It’s going to be a long shot, but it’s possible you’ll hear more about Borjomi in the future.

Anyway, we spent some time with some current Peace Corps Volunteers in Borjomi before heading back to our respective towns. We all hitched a ride in a 1960s Soviet minibus…the driver squirted some gasoline in the carburetor and we were off. Fortunately, the bus held together long enough to make it back, but it nearly ran off the road when we dodged a bunch of pigs.

One final story, on Thursday I decided that I was tired of my hair and buzzed it off. My family thought that it was hilarious. Coming back from school on Friday, I found that my 12-year old host brother had cut off all his hair too. Apparently my host brothers think I’m the coolest guy ever. Here we are, minus our hair:

More stories to come, talk to everyone later!


  • At 9:45 PM, Blogger Patrick said…

    Awwww you and your host son are adowable! You look like a poor man's Edward Norton from Fight Club.

    The D.C. love shack (a.k.a. 3315 11th St NW) is coming together great... we're even going to have fully functional A/C and blinds in the house by the end of the week! And it's only been five weeks!

  • At 10:08 PM, Anonymous dmarkell said…

    Don't be fooled by Patrick, we are all a little disappointed that our exhibitionist days will be coming to an end (see for details).
    Hope you are meeting lots of beauteeful girls there. Send more pictues of you in dangerous or heartrending locations.

    P.S. Maybe we can visit you one of these weekends--how far are you from Atlanta? Whaa waa.

  • At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No meeting beautiful girls, please.


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