Cuttino's Georgian Life

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

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Crazy January, Part I

Hello everyone! Its been a while since I've posted, but a lot has happened in the past three weeks...a lot. So I figured that I'd break things up and post the stories separately--mainly because I'm lazy. Anyway, here's what happened first...

CSI: Georgia
About three weeks ago, just days before I was leaving for Turkey, I returned to my host family to find that all my electronics had been stolen from out of my room. My laptop, my sitemate's laptop (which I was holding for safekeeping), my digital camera and my computer--all gone. My door had been locked but the exterior window had been opened from the inside. After a bit of panicking, I called up my host family, who then panicked themselves. I pulled myself together and called the Peace Corps safety and security officer. When we first arrived in Gori, we were given the personal phone number of the police chief. Fortunately, I still had it written down and I had my host brother call him.

Within fifteen minutes of my call, there were eight police officers standing in our house. A team began dusting for fingerprints another questioned me and the host family. When I initially called the police, I wasn't expecting anything to come out of it, so I was shocked when my room turned into a full-on crime scene. After about an hour and as more and more police officers arrived at my house, I was told that I would have to go down to the station to file an official report. So, I crammed into a Lada with seven other officers and went downtown.

I arrived at the police station at about 10 p.m. After sitting and waiting for some time, a detective came in to interview me. Legally, they needed a translator present, so they had brought in an old retired English teacher. The poor woman had been woken up by the police, dragged into the station and forced to translate even though her English was barely good enough to exchange pleasantries with me. The detective would ask her a question, she would look sheepishly at me, and would mumble something out in broken Geo-glish. Finally, we both got frustrated and spoke to each other in Russian.

I returned home at 1 a.m., with everything in an uproar and my host father and brother still at the police station. I couldn't sleep for most of the night, counting up the losses in my head again and again. The next morning, the Safety & Security officer called me to tell me that the police had found my stuff. The culprit was my host cousin, Giorgi, who came to the house about once a week. He was planning on selling my laptop on the black market. Thanks, man. The police had put 20 officers on the case that night and they had managed to find my things by 4 a.m. Giorgi had entered my room through an interior window, taken my things, and left through the outside. He also left his fingerprints all over the room for the police to find. He's facing 5-8 years for this--Georgian law is very strict. Unfortunately for him, the Ministry of Internal Affairs knew about the case; the deputy minister was on the phone regularly with the Gori chief. Theives beware: The Georgian government is looking after the Peace Corps volunteers.

So, even though the police found my things and they knew it was mine, I had to wait two days to reclaim it. I took the opportunity to teach my counterpart the phrase "Jumping through hoops." There's always some teachable moment here in Georgia. The good news is that I have my stuff back and I was given permission to move into my own apartment!

That's all for now. Monday's update: My trip to Istanbul...


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