Gaumarjoes

Lake near Ninotsminda

Friday morning I left the house for police lessons thinking that I would have a quiet weekend of walking in the hills, walking about town at sunset, church, perhaps Sunday lunch with a neighbor, and cow-watching, as I have had every other weekend since I moved to Adigeni. I got back Sunday evening at nearly eight after an interesting, slightly bizarre trip to Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda, which are in the Armenian area of Georgia — not only are the people there ethincly and culturally Armenian, but most of them also speak Armenian and Russian, and seem to know about as much Georgian as I do.

I showed up for English classes at the police station; there were perhaps five people there, two of whom were working on police business, and one of whom came and went from work to class. I wanted to be able to do something crafty while sitting around awkwardly while people speak to one another in Georgian, so I asked a girl who comes to classes with me whether I might be able to find a craft store in Akhaltsikhe. Once she had figured out what the question was, she said that there was a store, but I couldn’t find it, because there are no street signs, and the shop has no sign either. The policeman there who knows English, P, said that I should go with him “today or tomorrow” when he had work in A., and he could show me where the shop was. At 11:30 the policemen called a coffee break and didn’t come back. They did, however, make a lovely frothy cold coffee by mashing sugar and instant coffee into a mug and beating it with water. As we were sitting there drinking coffee, P said that he was going to A in 25 minutes, and that I could come if I wanted to find the craft store, so I went back for shoes and money, and returned shortly, to climb into a smallish car, carrying myself and four police people to A. I got there, and after two of the people had been dropped off in various sections of town, we went to the store, where I bought some crochet hooks and yarn (she also had beads, but I didn’t know what kind to get, so yarn was easier — perhaps I can make a tea cozy or something), and went back to the police station where another TLG-er had just gotten off work.

That was where things started to get a little odd. I found out that she and her friend, also with TLG, were going to Akhalkalaki for the weekend, where he lives, and Ninotsminda, where J, who was in the same training group as myself, lives. I decided to go with them. I stayed the night with C’s host family in Ak, then he and I got a ride with a young man who’s father apparently owns a hotel and a gas station in town, and works for the ministry.

After hanging out for a bit with the other TLG-ers and J’s host sister we went to a smallish BBQ/supra at a lake with Armenian police officers and their families, where they made josh with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and eggplants roasted on skewers that resemble swords; skewered and roasted pork ribs, watermelon, and vodka. I managed to get out of the vodka drinking. We stayed there most of the afternoon, then went to the resteraunt of one of the Armenians, where there was wine (which I did drink, and was quite good), chocolates, and a bit of dancing. I stayed the night in N. with B, J, and her host family. We are apparently invited to Batumi next weekend.

In the morning I tried to go to church — J’s host sister took me to the N. churches, one Georgian (it’s an unattractive squareish building with beautiful icons on the walls inside), the other Armenian (I couldn’t figure out if it was Orthodox or Catholic), but neither was having a service, which seemed a bit odd for 9:30 on a Sunday morning — I couldn’t ask well enough to figure out why. We had a leisurely breakfast and went back to the resteraunt for xinkali, and then B and I took a marshurtka back to Al. All the Armenian kids, and some adults as well, were roaming the streets in packs, tossing buckets of water on people; someone said that it’s some kind of holiday thing. There had been something of a misunderstanding in N, so I had to cann the police and ask for a ride back to Adigeni, because there may have been a marshurka coming through at 6, but it probably wouldn’t stop unless I could see it coming and flag it down, which was by no means a sure thing. When I got back I went over for a dinner of xinkali and watermelon (they’re very popular here) with a couple of peace corps volunteers and their host families.

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