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.*

20 August 2007

Latrines and Links

First, I would like to draw your attention to some new links that have appeared on the left side of my blog. Two of my friends are serving in Peace Corps Ukraine and St. Kitts and their blogs appear in the Links section. The new group of Volunteers arrived in Georgia in June and a few of them have set up blogs as well. They appear towards the bottom, inthe G7 (because they are the 7th group in Georgia; I am in the 6th group) section.
When I was a counsellor at ECO camp I gave in to my most basic Peace Corps instinct and dug latrine. Mosey on over to Amy's blog for the exciting pictures.

Georgia is sometimes a very strange place. My friend rents an apartment in Batumi, the regional center. His refrigerator (an old, Soviet model) recently broke. He called to have it repaired. This is where the process ceases to be normal. The refrigerator repairman does not come to your defective refrigerator; you must bring the incapacitated refrigerator to him. After facilitating it down the narrow, unlit stairs to the street, you must hire a cab with a large trunk to take it to the repairman's place, where he begins to deal with it. He calls you when it is again functional (apparently refrigerator repair takes two weeks) and the process must be repeated, this time dragging the fighting refrigerator up the stairs and back into the apartment. Luckily, it worked once returned to its place atop a wooden piling in the stuffy kitchen. If it happens again, however, I will recommend that my friend not repair it so I am not again enlisted to transport it.

I have uploaded some pictures from ECO Camp (the first week of August in Racha, a mountainous region near the Russian border)...

Shovi town center.

I tried to be artistic.

Nearing the tree-line.

The hills are alive... (yodel yodel yodel)

Here I am at the zenith of our hike at the ECO camp in Racha.

A mountain shrouded in clouds.

It's not my house, but I wish that it was.

Miss Nature 2007.

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07 August 2007

The Nature

I went to the nature last week! Unfortunately, I have no pictures (yet) to prove this slightly disturbing yet terribly exciting development. I spent the past week as a counsellor at an environmental camp for Georgian youth. This meant many things.

I ate only carbohydrates. Now, you might say that carbs are an important part of a balanced diet and I should celebrate the fact that I am receiving them in a remote village of approximately 2 people that is very deep in the nature where the mountain soil was so hard that it took many hours to dig a latrine. The "soil" consisted of roots, rocks, and frozen clay. After you got through that, you encountered roots, rocks, and frozen clay. So I ate some carbohydrates. Rice-y sugar and tubers were the main staples, and this helped me to use the latrine as little as possible. We also ate bread. One day we had an eggplant-based dish, which I despise yet still lapped up lovingly because it contained a vegetable. (Is eggplant a vegetable? Luckily, the Georgian word for it has nothing to do with eggs. How did eggs get involved with eggplant? I should really get a hobby...)

Also, we went hiking. This was the highlight of the camp, for both me and most of the campers. We went to an area near the Russian border where, at the top, the views were almost panoramic. Unfortunately I lack to ability to describe this without pictures, so I'll stop now and post some pictures of it later.

We also actually did some stuff relating to the environment. One activity involved a discussion about global warming. Did you know that it is popular now in America to go online and find out how large your carbon footprint is? I had no idea of this until going to ECO camp. I wonder how my footprint in Georgia differs from what my footprint was in the States...

Anyway, we discussed global warming. Georgia and it's glaciers and coastline and biodiversity are being affected by it (adversely, of course) at a pretty alarming rate. We asked the campers how they felt about this:

(in Georgian...)
Q: Which countries do you think contribute most to global warming?
A: America, China, India, Japan

Q: Where do you think Georgia falls on this list?
A: Very low. Towards the bottom.

Q: Is Georgia affected by the actions of America, China, etc.?
A: Yes.

Q: How do you feel about this?
A: Very bad. They don't care about the smaller countries.

Q: What can Georgia and Georgians do about this?
A (in English): KILL THE AMERICANS!!!

So that's how Giorgi, age 17, plans to solve global warming. What do we as Peace Corps Volunteers plan to do? We come to one of the most beautiful places I've ever been (Shovi, the village hosting the camp) and hang out with teenagers who are more in tune with American pop culture than I am. But it's not just that. We teach them valuable skills, too. We taught them how to find an egg in a bucket in a tree in a forest, how to describe a tree as they would an adopted child, how to build a fort out of dead nature, and, most importantly, how to throw a frisbee.

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