12/11/2018 – 7/1/2019
Happy new year!
First up: Happy new year! May this be an amazing year to all of us. Second, it has been a long time since I wrote the last blog post. There has been a lot going on, so I will try to get you up to date with a bigger blog post.
After the training in Kobuleti, I started hanging out with the other EVS volunteers and made a good group of friends. 4 more classes of Georgian language and I was done, now I can (with some struggle) read, write and speak some kartuli. This helps when I’m walking around, or when I have to buy something. When somebody is asking me for a “sigareti” or “puli” or even when I have to ask where to go. I always try to order food fully in Kartuli, but then they start to ask me something and I don’t know what they’re saying so I just say yes. As of now, it always worked!
On the 20th of november I was celebrating my birthday, and ofcourse I had to celebrate this the Georgian way. What is the Georgian way you ask me? A big table of food, alcohol and good friends and even family. So I invited all my friends and ordered a big table full of food at our favorite place “Art-Café Home”. Even though I kinda missed my old friends at that moment, I was happy with the people around me during my birthday. It was a good (and expensive) night, which I hope a lot of people will remember just like I will.
Me and Gerardo tried to be more exploring, so we went to “Mtskheta” the former capital of Georgia. I’ve been here before last year, but for really short time so I was excited to go explore it more deeper. Last time, I went with my friends and we drove to mtskheta but now we had to do it on our own. We did not have any idea on how to go there. After a quick google search we found out that we could get into a “marshutka” at “didube” station. On the internet it said it should be 1 lari per person to get to mtskheta, we were so happy because it was so cheap! We went to didube station and got flooded by taxi drivers asking “Taxi? You need taxi? Taxi?”. Eventually we made it through all the taxi drivers and had to find the right marshutka. After walking we just couldn’t find it and a driver started talking to us about driving us to mtskheta for 20 lari. At first we we’re thinking we should do it because we could not find the other 1 lari marshutka. Finally we came to our senses and started searching again to the cheaper marshutka. After some searches we came to a more closed space where a lady selling tickets to a lot of cities. There we bought the tickets for 1 lari and went to sit in the marshutka. After around 45 minutes I saw something that I recognized from mtskheta and I was thinking “ok that means we are close, the bus must be stopping soon”. It didn’t. It just continued to another town a little bit further. There we decided to ask a taxi driver to get us up to the “Dzhvari monastery”, he took us and waited for us to come back after exploring the monastery. We asked him if he wanted to drop us at mtskheta and he was pleased to do so. He even stopped in the middle of the road for me to take a good picture of the monastery. Eventually we were in mtskheta and we just explored the whole place. And when we came to the church, we saw there was a wedding. It just did not look like a normal wedding because there were people in traditional clothing holding swords and trumpets. Some weeks later I asked my friend who this person was, turns out it was the son of the richest man of Georgia and a former singer! Serendipity is always a funny thing.
Some days later we started a new Erasmus+ project and they asked me to join as a photographer and make a video. So I went with them. I didn’t expect that this project would be so much fun and such a learning experience. The first days I woke up at 7:30 AM to run outside and see the sunrise, it was so cold but a real refreshing and calm thing to do. Next few days started to get to know the other participants and on one night I showed them what you would do on a traditional Georgian night/dinner with a lot of chacha. I think most of the people will remember that night (if they remember something from it). Following days we just continued with the training and I filmed some special videos (will be out later) and then shot some pictures. From this training I made some good new friends from new places around the world, which I always love. I love to work internationally and to know people from other countries/cultures. And it is better to know someone from the country you’re visiting to show you around, instead of walking around like headless chickens. The day after the project I was feeling like a tourist in Tbilisi again. Showing the city to my new friends, from the small bars to sitting at “narikala” at night and looking at the whole city.
When I was back at the office the work instantly continued like we didn’t stop to go to Bakuriani for a project. I went with Giorgi and Levan to Gori, Khashuri and Marneuli for small projects and taking pictures there. It was amazing to see there how driven the youth are in smaller towns. Then a week of working on editing videos and hanging out with my EVS friends and nothing special happening. Me and my friends started to get our own inside jokes and our “living in Georgia” sayings. Like the love for Khinkali, the rivalry between people who like Lobiani and who likes Khachapuri, the rivalry between Tbilisi and Rustavi and even more. While starting to bond with my friends a new person came into my Georgia experience, Michael. Another EVS volunteer but this time from my own country, the Netherlands. We we’re going to live together and work together at the same organization. That Wednesday we would move at 11 am to the new apartment. The night before, me, Michael and Gerardo went for dinner with my friends and they decided we should get drinks while we pack all our stuff to move the next morning. Ofcourse we were in. Me and Gerardo were packing all our stuff while our friends were playing some games and having fun. Eventually we finished and we had some fun and around 8 AM I finally went to sleep. After 2 – 3 hours Levan was at the door ready to move out all our stuff. So we started moving all our stuff to the new apartment. I was there for around 4 days until I left Georgia. Why? Because I had a small vacation back to my own country. To spend Christmas with my family and new years with my friends.
Being back in the Netherlands was super weird to me. It made me realize that Georgia and the Netherlands are completely opposite places for me. Not only country wise but also culture, friends, language, and ways of living. It also showed me how “rich” I actually am being in the Netherlands. I had no moment of peace because I was always with people to meet them again after almost 4 months. I have built my life there for 20 years, so everything is still there for me. I spend some outstanding Christmas days with my family (I ate soo much) and days with my friends celebrating that I was back in the Netherlands for some time. I think I did everything I would normally do in the Netherlands: eat Kapsalon, party with my friends, went to the gym, played games, talked about music with my father, surviving a moshpit at a hiphop concert and went to dinner with my sister.
Even though I noticed that I missed the Netherlands and got excited to continuing my life there, I am happy to be back in Tbilisi and excited to see where 2019 in Georgia will take me.