Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wondering through the Tbilisi

The day I wrote my last blog was a day of rest for the 40 people who had come in some time in the night of the 29th morning of the 30th. We mostly hung around the lobby, or walked around the block. One group went into town, but that was of necessity: the airline lost her baggage. It reminded me of how happy I was to see my orange roller/backpack as it came out from behind curtain at baggage claim.
Anyway, a good night’s sleep later we were all ready to go out and see Tbilisi. I wanted o find a map of the city. One would expect that the program would have given us a map when we got it, or the hotel, but no such luck. When I asked Tamara, the head of the volunteers, where I could get a map, she told me there was a church in freedom sq that is under construction, but the visitor’s information center that was inside is still operational…
At 11, 6 of us set off to explore. We were very lucky that there had been a mini training meeting the night before where the cars and rules of the road were explained. There was too much said to repeat here, but the gist of it was there are no rules that are followed. Tamara explained that people sometimes stop at red lights, etc. So as we walk in the direction of Freedom Sq., we stick VERY close to the edge of the side walk. I had already noticed that according to one driver, there seemed to be one lane, while another felt there were three… I thought the lines might indicate only two, but I am a foreigner, what do I know. Well, all was well until we ran out of sidewalk. Suddenly we have to cross four lanes of traffic to get to the other side. No crosswalk, no nothing. We watched on man walk across calmly and deleberatly. So we tried. By the end, we just RAN. We all survived the whole day, and no one was even almost hit by a car, but it was very stressful, but very fun.
We wandered all over the place. There were stone carvings and statues everywhere, and, especially in the beginning of the journey, it was not all soviet and similar. We passed through what we think was a graveyard which had a courtyard at the end of it with more neat statues and stone carvings in the walls We think that the writing might have been one of the older scripts. Yes, in Georgia there are three kinds of writing. A bunch of us have been studying the letters of the most used alphabet and came up with mnemonic devices for every letter. The” r” is a rabbit, “asperated k” is a kangeroo, “asperated t” is king tut and so on. So on our little adventure, we were looking at signs and working out how to say them, and even sometimes, what they said. It was pretty exciting.
So, we are walking around, we see the sites: a new park with a giant grand piano being built, and a rock climbing wall, a mosaic depicting the founding of Tbilisi, and, most importantly to some, an irish pub that shows the rugby world cup. Eventually, we made it to freedom sq where, everywhere where we went, and asked about maps, we were told to try another place, and it is better to just walk anyway… Who needs a map? Apparently not us…
When we got back to the hotel, we hung out with the new arrivals who brought our number of volunteers up to 102. Today begins the real trainings. We get split up into 4 groups and take 3 hours of Georgian language and then 3 hours of Georgian culture. I am doing an ok job of recognizing the letters so far. “V” for vulture and tail for “t”.
I wrote this on a word document while the internet is down so who knows when I will post this, but here is installment two… I think I will try to write the blog regularly and post when I get internet, so don’t worry if you don’t hear from me.

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