Monday, April 17, 2017

What a day!

I finally went to sleep around 3 AM, not because of jetlag (though that probably had a role), but because we spent well into the wee hours talking laughing and catching up. I have lived 3 days since 12:30, which is when Leqso knocking on the door and woke me up so we could be on the road to Goneri's Village at 1. We got to a dirt road that never ended and started adding people to the car along the way. First Goneri's sister, which send his nephew who had come with us from Poti into the trunk for the rest of the ride. Farther down the bumpy road, we picked up his teenage niece. She sat on the lap of her aunt and uncle. It was not until we got to the cemetery that I learned what was going on. Yesterday (Easter Sunday) was the day for the living. Today was the day for the dead. Pascal bread was left at the headstone, eggs were rolled over the graves, and beer or wine was poured on as well. It was a very beautiful tradition. We piled in again and spent some time in the house Goneri was born in. Once again, I was impressed with Georgian tables- that they don't collapse from the weight of the food and drink.

Their yard had cats, dogs, chickens, ducks roaming everywhere. I was told the cows would come home later, and I was reminded of the way the cows know the way home all by themselves. I was informed that this was only a western cow thing. I decided that means that western cows are smarter than eastern cows. This was not the first time I have engaged in Samegrelo snobbery but I stand by it. Sorry rest of Georgia, Samegrelo is obviously the best.

After eating what felt like my weight, we headed back to Poti and stopped by a Cemetery to repeat the ceremony for Lela's Godfather. His daughter had a stone next to him and she explained that she had been named after this daughter. Later, I found out that the cousin we had been running with was named after the neighbor who fed me yesterday. It's his uncle. Since the day was about traditions and memories of our ancestors I shared some of the Jewish traditions of naming (Ashkenaz tradition of naming after the dead) and leaving a stone on the grave (anyone want to share why a stone? Inquiring minds want to know). It was at that Cemetery that I found out that a friend of Goneri's who spoke English, and was therefor really great for me to hang out with, had suddenly died a couple years ago. It was a jarring reminder that though things look the same here, they are not.

We headed home and I had just enough time to install the video editing software to my computer (sorry, not enough time to figure out how to use it yet. Videos still to come) and we were off again, this time with Margo to honor her mother. But when we got there, she could not find the grave. We split up in search of it (I was no help at all, so stuck with Margo) Finally, we wound our way back to the gate we'd come in through, and suddenly it was right there! It was beautiful to find it, especially after searching high and low (Literally. Some plots are raised, so walking through the cemetery is a lot of squeezing and climbing up and down). There were many families around doing the same thing, it was really neat to see everyone (I did not know anyone, but everyone else did) Finally, we went to the grave of Lela's cousin who had passed earlier this year. Too many graves today were filled with people who were too young to fill them. But today was not really about grief, but about celebrating who they were. Lela told me the rolling egg was to symbolize that their bodies died, but their souls kept going.

We got home and left pretty soon after so see Qiso, my host-cousin who was my first friend in Georgia. She is my age and married with a son and a daughter. There have been inquiries into my plans to do the same, to which I remind everyone that she was with her current husband when I was in Georgia last. She already had the jump on me. The kids are AMAZING. Her son spends his days here at our house, so I look forward to playing with him more.

Tomorrow school goes back, and I CAN'T WAIT to see my students! To that end, it is 1 AM here... GOOD NIGHT everyone.

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