Monday, August 16. First of seven days to prepare us for the “real wilderness” in Georgia.
Breakfast at 9 am, then meeting, then 3 hours of Georgian, lunch, meeting, Methodology, dinner, meeting. 11 pm.
Those seven days basically had the same schedule, except that Methodology got replaced with Intercultural Learning after 2 days and the program for the evening differed a bit. When we haven’t been falling asleep just totally destroyed we filled the pub across the street (Georgian Beer for 1,30 GEL, around 0,55 €) or contacted the people back home.
We were located in a fancy looking private school with air conditioners, TV and internet access in every room, nice bathrooms etc. Judging from the surrounding environment, it did not feel to real. Best choice for adjustment purposes though, I guess.
The “problem” with Kutaisi is, and I think that is why it is a good place to get a first glance at Georgia environment-wise, that there was a car assembling factory in Soviet times. The term Soviet times probably already made you think “Wait, what happend the last 20 years?”. See, that’s the problem. Not much actually happened. Streets and buildings are not that good in shape, so the first impression even let’s you think the city is nearly dead. But believe me, Georgia has lots of potential and it will see better times soon. Kutaisi is as far as I know more then 3.000 years old and hence most likely survived loads of bad times already.
Two times we had dinner a bit earlier and took a sight seeing tour. Tuesday, we were taking by two buses to the Gelati monastery nearby Kutaisi, a beautiful silent place with stunning view over the region. When we were standing in the main church, admiring the stunning paintings in the church (sorry, no photos, I did not know if it was inappropriate to take photos in there and the monks looked all serious), all of a sudden somebody began to sing a very melodic sad song in this perfect acoustic place. Serious goosebumps alert over here.
Friday as a first real experience experiment we where thrown off the buses in Kutaisi down town for a 2 hour hit-the-road, which was pretty cool. Took a lot of photos of the recently reconstructed, now quite polished city centre, that has lots of European architecture buildings.
Some of our group are familywise coming from an Asian or Afro-American background. Georgian people like to stare, that’s what we were told in the orientation week. But that topped it. Not that people only starred at us like crazy anyway, as they probably do not see large tourist groups exploring the city quite often.
But in particular those fellow group members got invitations to have a photo altogether, because they were basically the first Afro-American or Asian persons they have ever seen in their entire life, which was quite a bit awkward…
Anyway, that gave us the opportunity to try our recently acquired knowledge on real Georgian guys, which with notebooks, dictionary and lots of gesturing worked out pretty ok.
Enough writing, here are the images: