Cuttino's Georgian Life

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

Friday, February 09, 2007

Crazy January, Part III

Sorry for the delay, folks. Yes, I'm still recapping January...

Life in Ajara

So, after a week away from Georgia, I reluctantly returned the same way I came. I stayed the night with my fellow PCV Tim, who lives in the seaside town of Gonio. The winters in Ajara (the region that borders the Black Sea and contains Gonio and Batumi) are normally very wet and chilly, but the area had been experiencing an unseasonably warm week. I spent the evening picking mandarins in short sleeves and looking out over the Black Sea. Like I said before, folks in Ajara have a hard life.

While I was away, I had missed two major stories: an outbreak of "rabbit fever"--yes, rabbit fever--and a minor international incident involving some weapons-grade uranium. But of course, the big news was the Georgian figure skater's performance at the European Championships (breaking news with live coverage!) and the demolition of a decrepit Soviet-era hotel in Batumi. Apparently I was so exhausted from my trip that I slept through the implosion. For Tim's take on all this, see this entry on his blog.

The next morning, I woke up to more typical Ajara weather. The Georgians call it booksi--a pleasant mixture of rain, sleet and high wind. All G6 volunteers were scheduled to attend a language conference on Monday morning, so Tim and I braved the elements to catch the night train to Tbilisi.

Conference Interrupted
The purpose of our language conference was to give us all a refresher in Georgian. Some people have been doing very well with their language since training ended; others (like myself) would prefer to forget that we ever attempted Georgian. However, the training was fairly helpful. I took a class on supra vocabulary and cleared up six months of confusion in 90 minutes. Finally, some good toasts--"To sweet memories, dear friends!"

On the final session of the first day, we heard running and screaming in the halls of the hotel. About fifteen minutes later, the Peace Corps staff entered our training room and told us that there was an "incident" and that we needed to leave the hotel immediately. We were given ten minutes to gather our things. We were herded down the stairs, through the lobby (filled with loitering police officers), and onto the street. Outside, our training director, Tengo, was screaming orders at the driver and us. At this point, no one was sure what was going on we just knew that Peace Corps wanted us out of the hotel in a hurry. We were piled into one of the Peace Corps' SUVs and took off into the rush hour traffic. It was apparent that our driver had been waiting for a long time to do some "emergency driving."

What caused the desperate evacuation of the hotel? Apparently the hotel owner's son--armed and dangerous--had ducked into the building while running from the police. The cops busted into the hotel lobby with guns drawn. At this point everyone was in training sessions, so we were oblivious to the chaos downstairs. The police trapped the criminal in the basement and gave us enough time to escape.

So ends my second encounter with the Georgian police. The rest of the conference was relocated to Peace Corps headquarters and you can rest assured that we will never be staying in the Hotel Kolkhi again.


Post a Comment

<< Home