Thursday, April 27, 2006

I had a really great dream the other night

It was about this blog. I came up with the best, most fantastic, most interesting post ever. People were emailing me about how GREAT the post was.

Obviously, this isn't that post.

Damn dreams. I can't remember what it was.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The 3 (5) things you always see while driving in Georgia

The other day I was having lunch with a few friends and, inevitably, the conversation turned to driving and traffic in Georgia. There is no way to describe Georgian traffic - it defies all logic and sense. I have tried on many occasions to explain it but unless you come here and go for a ride, you just don't get the full effect. I had told my parents countless stories about the Georgian drivers and the crazy traffic, but until they came here and we tooled around town for two weeks, I don't think they fully understood. I remember once a friend of mine was surprised that I drove myself here in Georgia - most people here with the Embassy hire drivers - and she said "you must be very brave" and I replied "brave or crazy, I haven't decided".

So, during this conversation about driving, one of my friends mentions the "Five Things You ALWAYS See While Driving In Georgia" and the other two started laughing. Not having been privy to the previous conversation I enquired about the five things. They started filling me in, but could only remember three of the five. I left them that day, still chuckling about the three things and, damn it, if I didn't see all three on my drive home. And I have seen them every single day since then. In no particular order, here are the three things you will see every time you go for a drive in Georgia:

1. A car pulling (towing) another car with a rope.
2. A car either going the wrong way on the road or going in reverse on the road. Bonus points if the car doing this is towing another car with a rope (oh yes, I have seen this many times).
3. A car with no side view mirrors. This one is the easiest of the three to spot, because every third or fourth car in Georgia has no side view mirrors. It's not like they would use them if they had them anyway.

I was at a party the other night and I was telling someone about the three things. He was laughing with me and we put our heads together and came up with two more.

4. A car, usually a Lada, that will come all the way from the back of the line of traffic waiting for a light to change, who will drive toward incoming traffic (see number 2) to get to the front of the line of traffic so that he can be first when the light changes. And then usually, he goes about 20 mph. Ladas aren't known for their blazing speed.
5. Cars that will stop in the middle of an intersection while making a left turn. Because, even though they had the green light when the started making the left, once they get out in the intersection to go the other way the light is (obviously)red. So they stop. Because now they think that light is for them. It's bizarre really.

I think that the Georgian government should emulate Disney World - there should be signs at the airport that say "If you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, a bad back, etc. We advise you NOT to go on this ride". But if you do, you are guaranteed a hair-raising good time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One year in Georgia - Random stories and events

April 6th marked our 1 year anniversary of living in Georgia (if you don't count the 4 months I was in the US for the birth of Kyra). In the past year we have seen some of the most beautiful places, eaten some of the most delicious food, met some of the most wonderful people and have generally enjoyed our first foray into living and working overseas.

We've met the President of the US (and his wife and Condi Rice and other assorted Congress-people), we've partied with the finest Marine detachment, formed friendships with people from all over the globe - Australia, Dominican Republic, Nepal, Belize, Honduras, Wales and Switzerland just to name a few.

We have welcomed a new child into our life - a surprise blessing that we are ever so grateful for. She has (and I hate to be sappy here, but dammit, it's true) "completed" our family in the most amazing way. We have watched while our first born has matured from toddler to confident young man at the tender age of (almost) 4. We are thrilled with our two kids on a daily basis - even when life gets hectic and kids are cranky - they always do or say something that makes us stop and appreciate them. With Kyra it may just be a big smile or the beginnings of a giggle (she is just now starting to laugh - it still startles her a bit when she does it). With Blaine, it could be any one of the hundred times he is doing his "mommymommymommymommymommy" chant, and, exasperated, I say "WHAT" and he replies "I love you!". (Which also has the power to make me feel incredibly guilty for getting exasperated with him).

Every day during the week Blaine goes to school now. He loves his school and is so happy there. It is an amazing little place that has just opened a block from our house. I walk him to school every morning when the weather permits and home again in the afternoon. Our little walk has allowed us to meet more neighbors and, though our ability to speak the language is limited, we enjoy "chatting" with them all. There is one lady in particular who we see every day - she makes and sells fresh bread from her home. There is a little window in the door facing the street and for 50 tetri (about 25 cents) you can buy a fresh (usually still warm) piece of "poulri" - Georgian flat bread. Blaine has learned how to ask for bread in Georgian "Erti poulri" (one bread) and how to say thank you (Gmadloba). The lady adores him and thinks it is so cool that this little American kid is trying so hard to assimilate. We stop every day on the way home and buy bread from her - it has become our ritual. She looks forward to seeing us and we look forward to seeing her as well.

When my parents were here visiting my mom said to me "You will come back here someday, won't you?" I hadn't really thought about it prior to her saying that, but after thinking about it, I know that I will. I have fallen in love with this country, with the people, the crazy traffic, the odd buildings and houses, the supras and the crumbling infrastructure. I can't imagine the great things the Georgian people will accomplish in the next 10 or 20 years, but I can't wait to see what happens. A small part of me feels "Georgian" - no time more evident then during the winter Olympics this year as the lone Georgian athlete, a female figure skater, competed. I cheered louder for her than I did for any of the Americans competing and was so proud when she did well. She embodies the Georgian spirit - fearless and determined. If you don't believe me, come to Georgia and go for a drive here. No where are the Georgians more fearless and determined than when they are behind the wheel of a car.