For the last two weeks, I’ve been hitting the road quite regularly. I went to Tbilisi PC office several times for various things and stayed the night, running errands and attending meetings; went to Kutaisi, Orzugeti and nearby villages (Tskhemliskhidi and Vakijvari) – the latter being in the southwest of Georgia, where generous PCV’s hosted a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner; went to Khashuri for a party and visited my host mother there, the ever-patient Eka who listened to 2-1/2 hours of my Georgian without laughing even once; and helped host a Thanksgiving weekend here in Gori, to boot! All of it … well, most of it … was fun. I’ve got lots of pictures. I’m putting just a few below, because I can’t resist, but this post is going to focus on the story of yesterday – an adventure in movie-going by Sara and Salome.
OK, that’s it for Thanksgiving, other than to say – I was indeed thankful to spend time with PC friends, tinged only a little with sadness because it’s the last time and we all knew it.
Upon returning to Gori early Saturday evening, I got a good night’s sleep in my own bed and the next day fulfilled a promise that I’ve been making to my host sister, Salome, for about a year now. When we started reading The Hunger Games, I promised her that we would go see the final installment in the movie series when it came to Georgia. Little did I know how challenging that would be! For one, though the majority of kids here (the main audience of this movie, which probably says something about me but I don’t care) do not speak Russian, including Salome. Those who speak a second language, speak English. In spite of this, the movie was dubbed into Russian and every showing except one was rendered unintelligible to both of us. Moreover, since Gori does not have a functioning theatre, we had to go to Tbilisi to see it. The one English showing was at 6:40 pm, necessitating a prearranged and very expensive taxi ride back to Gori late on a Sunday night, since I had work and Salome had school the next morning. But I did it, because I promised, and because I really wanted to see the film, and I wanted to see it with Salome.
So at 4:00 pm on Sunday afternoon I showed up at her house, having already arranged transportation in a shared taxi, and off we went. The first part of the adventure began. Though I don’t know if having a driver who at times was going 180 km, which is OVER 110 MILES PER HOUR, really counts as adventuresome. More like suicidal. I don’t know what was with this guy, but I just sat frozen in the back seat, sans seat belt, since most cars in Georgia don’t have seat belts in the back, and this was no exception. That crazy driver redeemed himself a little bit by letting us off on the far side of the highway, thereby allowing us to cross only one 5-lane stream of traffic instead of two.
That part was actually kind of fun, though I’ll be damned if I can explain why. We teetered on the edge of the highway, looking for a break in the relentless traffic. There were 4 or 5 young men also waiting to cross right next to us. After about 5 minutes of growing desperation, the guys starting running across the road. I yelled at Salome, “come on!!!!” and off we went. I just figured that even Georgian drivers wouldn’t hit 6 people at once. We literally screamed aloud as we ran, her clutching the sleeve of my coat … I really cannot justify this behavior other than to say, it was Georgian, and I’ve been here a long time now. And it was sort of exhilarating, like an amusement park ride, but with real danger. I mean, 5 lanes in front of a huge shopping center. Like, could there be a light? A crosswalk? An overpass? Haha, what am I thinking.
OK, so we survived, did a little shopping and then saw the movie, which was good. Very good. The best of the series if you ask me. And in 3-D, too. Marred only by the loud, incessant talking of two rows of Indian students in the back of the theater, along with several others who added Georgian and English to the mix. I wanted to smack all of them but again – I’ve been here a long time now, and this is how it is in movie theaters in Georgia. Thankfully the volume was really loud and I could hear the dialogue.
Here are some pictures of us celebrating the joy of Hunger Games movie-viewing:
Ok, now comes the real adventure. Our taxi driver, the ever-accommodating Nika, arrives early, calling us 5 times during the movie (happily I had my phone on vibrate, but ultimately had to talk with him … well, ok, Salome talked with him, because Georgian with this guy on the phone is beyond my capabilities). We leave, pondering the kind of tough message of the film, and off we go. We’re about a third of the way home when … the car stalls. Yes, 10:00 pm, dead on the highway. The Auto Club not being a concept here, I say to Salome, well, let’s not worry – if worst comes to worst, he’ll call a friend or his cousin or something. Here we are while waiting:
He calls a friend. He says the friend will be there in 15 minutes. When I ask is he coming from Gori, and he says yes, my next comment to Salome is yeah, 15 minutes IF HE’S FLYING. In the meantime, Nika amuses us with stories of his outrageous behavior as a high school student. At 11:00 pm, the friend shows up. He takes a cloth strap, ties the two cars together, with me and Salome in the back seat of the front car, and Nika and his friend Soso in the front seat of the back car. Here we are changing taxis:
So, 49 km (30 miles) to Gori towing an unsecured car behind us. It took about an hour, and I was tense, very, very tense, the whole way. We made it without any major incident, though several times Nika hit the brakes, causing our car to jerk backwards very alarmingly, while the driver muttered “deda, deda” (mother, mother) under his breath.
We cruised right by Salome’s street, and though she wanted to get out and walk, I wouldn’t let her since it was almost midnight. We went to Nika’s, parked the car, and started off to take me and Salome home. And then, the coup de gras – the taxi ran out of gas. Seriously. Nika promptly called yet another friend, who showed up, drove poor Salome home, and then me – 12:15 am. On a work/school night.
Apparently Salome’s family thought this whole story very funny (we called them several times from the taxis so as not to have them worry) – she says. I wasn’t quite as amused, but what the hell. As Salome said, we’ll laugh about it tomorrow. And we already are. But for all my friends who know me in the U.S, I want to be very clear that though I pretty much took this in good humor, do not expect me to be any different when I come back when it comes to this sort of thing. You know what I am saying.