Tim in Georgia

This is a blog to chronicle my experiences in the Republic of Georgia as a Peace Corps TEFL volunteer. *The views expressed herein are mine and are not necessarily those of the Peace Corps or the US Government.*

26 February 2007

In the News...

I think this is part two of my (very) occassional "In the News..." series. But, then again, that could be complete mental fabrication on my part.

So first...BORAT!

Yes, I have seen the movie. And it would not have been nearly as funny if I hadn't seen it in Georgia. Fortunately for me, other volunteers have already written about the movie in funnier and more entertaining ways than I ever could. So, check out Jen's blog entry http://jeningeorgia.blogspot.com/2007/02/borat-vs-georgia.html for an analysis/comparison of Georgia vs. Borat.


CNN has definately begun courting the younger market and gone the way of MTV. Since MTV (Music TeleVision, in case you couldn't tell) no longer plays music, CNN (Cable News Network) has decided to no longer show the news. I was in Tbilisi this past weekend for (yet another) conference, and our extravagent hotel, which included hot water (but not when you wanted it) and bad food (but it was free bad food), also had CNN availible on television. I watched it eagerly. And what did I see?


Anna Nicole Smith is dead. I found this out maybe a week before the conference. I didn't read much into it; like everyone else I just assumed it was from drugs. Apparently the cause of her death was old news, and I did not find out the actual cause from CNN. But I did find out that they are battling over her body. (What is this, the early 90s? She's not hot anymore, people. First of all, she's dead. And second of all, she's 100% fake.) But, proving that any publicity is good publicity, HOWARD STERN is involved. He wants the body! And her son! Now, I think there are few people in the world less capable of raising a child than Anna Nicole Smith. Of course, but Howard Stern is one of them. So of course we should give him the child!

And speaking of incompetent mothers, the next news segment featured...BRITNEY SPEARS!

In case you didn't know, Britney Spears, of Mickey Mouse Club fame, is a drug user ("hit me [up] baby, one more time!"). Also, she is the inept mother of 2 ("Oops, I did it again") and an avid head-shaver (I always knew we had something in common). Recently, she was too messed-up to resist and was forced to enter rehab, which I'm sure costs boatloads of money. How about we leave Britney alone, take the rehab money, and give some homeless people some food! Or maybe pay our teachers more! But wait, how do I know about these problems? They are never on CNN!! Or maybe Anna Nicole and Britney are more important...

I did get one piece of not very important (but beggars can't be choosers) information from the news ticker on the bottom of the screen when these stories consumed the rest of it - Tom Vilsack does not want to be President. A man after my own heart.

Picture Update!

Sunset over the Black Sea (from my balcony)

Tbilisi in the rain.

Kartvlis Deda (Mother Georgia), up close and personal.

This makes Georgia look a bit like fantasy-land. This is a hill where the Kartvlis Deda statue is located, in the center of Tbilisi.

10 February 2007

Worked up so Cultural...

It's the long awaited Turkey post!

So about a month and a half ago I went to Turkey, mainly so I could take pictures and post them on my blog. Anyway, here's the story...

We left Georgia from my house on a date that I can't really remember. It began to snow as we shuffled awkwardly down my mountain with our large backpacks. Side note: I have yet to see snow in my village, even though it has snowed twice and stuck around. It always begins just as I am leaving and is gone before I return the next week. But, according to my friend Seke Gonio looks really cool in the snow. Anyway, we took a marshutka to Sarpi, the village on the Georgia-Turkey border that is about 3 kilometers from my house. We exited the marshutka and crossed the border on foot because it is faster. My passport has a cool new stamp! We then embarked on the journey towards Goreme, a small village in the region of Cappadokia which would be our base for the first few days of the trip.

We elected to travel by bus, and to our surprise the bus system in Turkey is the most advanced bus system I have seen in any country. Greyhound should take lessons. The buses were nice, clean, on time, plentiful, and the stations were located in areas where you wouldn't mind going on a stroll with large amounts of cash while looking foreign. There were no direct buses to Goreme, so we needed to go to Ankara and employ a new bus towards Goreme. The whole trip was supposed to take 16 hours, which sounded long but bearable due to the low cost of bus travel. So, when we arrived in Goreme 27 hours later, I would have been happy to never sit on a bus again.

A few interesting things about the bus ride: First, they serve you food, like they used to do on airplanes! On a related note, there is actually music on Turkish MTV. Go figure. Anyway, after they serve you food and drink (non-alcoholic), they come around with cologne/perfume (what do you call it when it's for both sexes?). It is customary to open your palms to the bus attendant while he pours some of this liquid cologne/perfume onto your hands. So, we did, and of course we were endowed with far too much fragrance. It was just like Georgia! So, I made sure my hands, face, neck, and clothing all smelled good and then applied the extra scented stuff to the bus seats and curtains in order to give the next passenger a more pleasant experience. I hope he appreciated it.

We were at the Turkish version of a rest stop on the side of the road in rural northeastern Turkey, when two men with hunting rifles came towards the store the bus passengers were frequenting. Being 5am, I elected to stay in the bus and pretend to be dozing, but men with guns caught my attention and I stared half-heartedly out the window at them. Oh - the reason for the 27 hours in the bus rather than 16 is because it continued snowing. The whole time. So the bus had a few incidents in the snow, involving swerving, frozen hydroplaning, and slipping down a hill and almost into the sea. One of the men with the hunting rifles was not much different than our bus. He moved very slowly, because of the ice, and implored his friend to wait for him. He got really close to the store and started slipping. He fell, with the gun. He staggered to his feet, did an ice-dance for a few seconds in an attempt to not fall, and then fell again. I have the feeling I'm not telling this well, but it was really funny to see a man with a gun slipping on ice and falling down. Maybe you had to be there.

Being in Kappadokia was like being on the moon (or so I imagine). If the lunar-landing was a hoax, this is where they filmed it. And, some scenes from Star Wars were filmed there, to add some credibility to my ramblings.

The best part of our trip was New Years Eve. We celebrated in Istanbul, not far from Taksim Square. We scouted around for a good bar/restaurant as afternoon turned to evening, and eventually found a place with reasonable prices and not another foreigner in the place, which was exactly what we were hoping for. The celebratory spot even had a live Turkish band! As midnight approached, we began to celebrate festively. I did dances I'd never seen before (not intended to be a comment on my awful dancing "abilities") and sang songs in a language I didn't know. I highly recommend Turkish New Year celebrations.

Aside from that, I ate much donor. They are cheap, delicious when they're not dry, cheap, widely availible, cheap, cheap, and cheap. Turkish delights were also in season, and I masticated on them without restraint.

A few final observations:
Why is Turkey not in the EU? The infrastructure is excellent, English is prevalent (if not invasive), and Istanbul is as European as any European city I've been to. Another observation that was forced on me was how different Georgia and Turkey are. Turkey's roads are paved better. More people speak much better English. Infrastructure is decades ahead. And, of course, you can feel globalization more. Also, my Georgian was completely useless more than 10 km away from Georgia. Grrrr...

I have more actual news, but this post is unwieldy and I don't want to be late for the two supras I am attending today (said mainly to make you think I'm popular, when in reality I am remarkably uncool).

Check my friend Cuttino's blog (link on the left) to see an awesome video of Georgian folk dancing. You won't be disappointed.



02 February 2007


the Golden Horne in Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque.

The Bosporus Bridge, spanning Europe (behind) and Asia.

The view from the roof of our hostel. This is the Blue Mosque, which Pope Ratzinger prayed at the week before we were there.

Hagia Sofia, the most important Church in the Christian world for over 1000 years.

Me in Goreme, the small village we stayed in which was peppered with caves and really cool mushroom-style rock formations. Some Star Wars scenes were filmed nearby.