Cuttino's Georgian Life

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Six Month-iversary

It's been six months since I arrived in Georgia. That means in a few weeks, I will already be done with the first quarter of my Peace Corps service. So...what have I accomplished thus far? Well, for starters, I know enough Georgian to order a meal, ask directions, and stop a minibus to throw up. I've also managed to stop bathing more than once a week and wear the same outfit for two. I no longer get annoyed by daily power outages and I'm not terrified by Georgian drivers. I've learned how to avoid street dogs, drunk vagrants, and rampaging bebias. I've spent countless hours drinking wine and toasting "to friendship between America and Georgia." Perhaps most importantly, I've learned how to cook some delicious food.

Whats most interesting, however, is how Georgia has changed over these past six months. Since this summer, schools have been renovated, streetlights repaired, and streets paved. The pedestrian tunnels in Gori have reopened and no longer smell like a toilet. In the center of town, there is a beautiful new bank, just across from Stalin's statue. Things are improving, and I'm glad that I'm here to witness it. Now if they can do something about the gas shortages...

Merry Christmas! = Shobas Gilotsavt!
The holidays are fast approaching and its amazing how little it feels like Christmas. Aside from the warm front which has pushed the temperature back up into the 50s, there are almost no holiday decorations anywhere. No Christmas music, no Christmas trees, wreaths, bells, etc, etc. Of course, one of the reasons for this may be that Christmas is not December 25, but January 7, according to the Orthodox calendar. Here in Georgia at least, there's still 18 shopping days left until X-mas!! Another reason is that New Years Day is a much bigger holiday than Christmas. Thank the Soviets for this--since the USSR was officially atheist, New Years replaced the religious holiday. So, Georgians have "New Years trees" and give "New Years presents." Don't worry, Santa (or "Father Frost") still comes for New Years. Back in the day, everyone tuned their radios to listen to the chimes in the Kremlin strike midnight; nowadays, all of Gori will gather under the Stalin statue to ring in the New Year. Warms the heart, doesn't it?

As for me, I celebrated Christmas with members of Gori's "English Club" by presenting a very animated reading of The Night Before Christmas. I have a feeling they understood very little (does anyone know what a sugar plum is?), but they laughed when I explained what "shook like a bowl full of jelly." I plan on going skiing for Western Christmas, spending New Years with my old host family in Khashuri, and going to church for Eastern Christmas. Why settle for only one Christmas?! I scoured the Internet to post a good, Georgian New Years e-card, but I had to settle for this kitchy little thing. Needless to say, you don't see many of these anymore:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear comrades!


  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger Karlan said…

    hi, so I am friends with eric helms here in Bulgaria peace corps and was bored one night on the internet and checked out your link he has posted... I just want to say hi and that i laughed when i ready the bit about your pechki and burning of newsweek, training materials, and handbook... i couldn't agree more. What the hell are we to do with those newsweeks? So far I have been successful in creating some wallpaper decoration for my apartment by cutting out the photos. eh... anyway, happy holidays and happy 6 month-er!


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