Saturday, April 15, 2017

In the airport 5 years later...

So I decided to leave intact all that I had written while SUPER tired at the airport. This is copied and pasted without any editing... Yikes!Anything in italics is written after a day of sleep and relaxation in Tbilisi.

So, no internet at Logan, and no internet in Ataturk… That changed the plans for what to do with my layover time in a major way. It also makes me less worried about whether or not I have my computer with me on the way home.

So far, the journey has been completely enjoyable. The drawbacks I knew were coming, so do not count. Sure, I have been awake for 36 hours and will not get real sleep for a while yet, and travelling through the worst part of the menstrual cycle is something that should typically be avoided. But on the whole, I have spoken and seen so many awesome people. The flight to Istanbul was full of the bad movies I chose not to pay money to see when they came out and trying unsuccessfully to sleep. The seat next to me had been open, but a man in a middle seat decided to make life easier for 3 people by moving to sit next to me. I don’t fault him in any way for moving next to me, but I do blame my semi delirious state on him (I could have stretched out and slept!). We got to Istanbul 4 PM local time, and I briefly considered hopping out and seeing the sights before realizing I didn’t want to lug my carry-ons with me everywhere, and I REALLY want to catch my flight to Georgia.  I had met and spoken to a woman headed to Israel before and after the Istanbul flight so we settled in to wait for our gate numbers together (didn’t know at the time that they only get shown 2 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave… Which meant mine wasn’t coming up until 22:35) That’s when we were first told that the internet wasn’t working. I did what I do, and we were soon chatting with another woman headed to Israel. Teaching High School History to English Language Learners came up and she asked where I teach. Yup, she teaches at one of the Elementary Schools! As the conversation devolved into issues our district faces, they realized their flight was in another terminal, and ran. I next hung out with a woman from Monaco who was on her way to Kiev to interview people for a position for a job in Belarus. She approached me after watching me knit. There have been many folks here VERY impressed that anyone my age knows how to knit. They are also often shocked that I am an American. I haven’t quite narrowed down the reason for surprise, but it has come up several times.
Another odd and interesting thing that has come up has been Judaism. It comes up if I mention Yiddish or play with my Mogn Dovid necklace. Two people so far (the woman from Monaco and a man from Serbia) have confided in me that I am the first person they met who was Jewish, and I am not what they were expecting. My “How so” got vague responses (and untypical… I am unable to grow a beard, so why you’d be surprised I don’t have one, is a bit confusing to me). In neither interaction or at any time in the airport have I felt unsafe, though I did make the decision to tuck my necklace in my shirt (of course, I keep fiddling with it, so that decision came to nothing anyway.) I feel interested ignorance but it feels very different than it did in High School or College. Here, it came from people who had just gotten into a great discussion about Syrian Refugees and the US’s policy of deportations. It came from people I saw as like-minded folk on the other side of the ocean. It felt disconcerting in a way that they had never met Jews or had some clear gaps in their knowledge. 
I have no idea how many people I have interacted with here. With one man and woman sitting next to me, I created a story about their conversation (in Arabic) and ended up telling them what I had imagined them saying. That led to a really fun people watching/ improve game with people all over the airport. Languages I know I have heard tonight include English, Turkish, Russian, Serbian, Croatian, Arabic, Hindi, Spanish, German, Dutch, and Georgian. Every time a new flight comes in, a new language is added to the mix. Other interesting patterns emerged. I met 4 separate German groups or singles headed to Iran. And each time, they sat next to me, we got to small talking and then they got up to go to the bathroom or get some last-minute snacks. It was not until the last one went that I realized I was sitting RIGHT in front of the gate headed to Iran. That explained why all of them were headed to Iran but all Germans? That one is unclear.
I have no idea what time it is here (what kind of airport doesn’t have internet or clocks everywhere??) but it HAS to be soon that my flight to Tbilisi will board. I will not be able to post this until I have reached my host-family’s place in Tbilisi, so no one reading this should worry about the fact that all my host-family’s contact info is on the internet that I can’t access… I am not too worried about it now either. Worst case scenario, I go to one of the MANY hostels in Tbilisi until I can get a hold of them…

Soon I see Leqso and we’ll head to Poti! I actually woke up a little typing that line. It will be so good to be there again and see everyone!

In fact, when I got to the Airport, there was internet, I made contact with Leqso and I was soon tucked into the little kitchen my host family had brought me to 5 and a half years ago after picking me up from the hotel. It was major deja-vu. Leqso shared some sort of awesome fried bread called tchristari (his own recipe) and pulled out the "Christmas Drink" that was one of my favorites from before. In fact, this batch was MADE when I was in Poti. It is a sort of Sangria like drink. When you drink the liquid you are fine, it's the alcohol in the fruit that you need to remember to account for. 
It was a great welcome back. 
Today, I took a walk around Tbilisi and remembered how much I don't know about Tbilisi. It's just so big and loud and cars are everywhere (and they don't much care for signs, stop lights or lane lines). I am really happy we are going to Poti tomorrow. It is a city that has grown too, but it is a part of me in ways that Tbilisi never really will be.

Leqso and his roommate made a wonderful dinner and we spent several hours going through the old pictures from 5 years ago that I had never shared with him. It was a great day of reminiscing and enjoying.

1 comment:

  1. How fun, to get to follow your travels again. I love to read off your experiences and thoughts. Enjoy.