At this point I’ve been living in Georgia for about four months, which not only means I’m past the half-way point of my time here (!) but it also means I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to life in Tbilisi. This, among other things, entails learning all the ins and outs of how not to look like a tourist when walking down the street or going grocery shopping. Finishing my Georgian language course has helped tremendously, since I can now have small-talk with taxi-drivers which, on top of making the ride more pleasant, can also drive the price down a bit. Although they must be getting tired of hearing that “I live in Saburtalo and go to work by metro” …
As far as work goes, I have some interesting news to share. CAYNEX has kicked off their Digital Storytelling project which means there will be weekly visits to different small cities and villages throughout Georgia. During these visits a group of youngsters engages in several workshops to increase their confidence and get their creative juices flowing, after which they are asked to record a video of themselves talking about their life. Questions they must answer range from “What was your childhood dream?” to “How do you envision yourself as a grandfather?”. The videos are only short but it’s a nice way for the youth to become comfortable with presenting themselves through modern media, and in the end videos from countries across all of Europe and the Maghreb will be collected and a compilation will be made to finish up the project. Usually when I go along, I do a small workshop to help the youth engage in the topic or I’m the one taking pictures.
A few weeks ago, our colleagues were all in Poland for a training, so Richard and I decided to take the opportunity to explore Georgia a bit more. Our choice landed on the Imereti region: We would have our HQ in a hostel in Kutaisi and visit different places from there. First on our list was Tskaltubo, an abandoned Soviet-era spa resort town. We spent the entire day wandering through the forgotten streets and impressive hotel buildings, occasionally sneaking past the guards. We took many amazing pictures, as well as several nifty items that we have since recycled into awesome art-pieces in our apartment. The other days we spent testing our nerves in an old mining town -Chiatura- where the villagers still use rusty cable-cars to get from one place to another, as well as checking off the bucket-list entry of “walking on rarely-used railroad tracks through the mountains from a monastery back to civilization”. All in all, an incredible weekend getaway.
Until next time!