Monday, June 1, 2015

Notes from Kazbegi

I: Driving 

Called one of the 40 deadliest highways in the world, and one of the most dangerous roads in the world (by these two websites with seemingly no sources or fact-based qualification systems), the Georgian Military Highway is the only route to Kazbegi from Tbilisi and is always fabulously interesting. The scenery is gorgeous, fellow passengers full of character (and probably body odor), and plenty of hair-raising vehicle leap frogging. On my latest trip up the road, I encountered a sign that said simply 
"We apologize for the inconvenience- 
Roads Department of Georgia"

Describing, apparently, construction that was going on making a windy, narrow, barely two-lane stretch of mountain road into a windy, narrow barely one-lane stretch of moutain road, also filled with huge potholes and pieces of missing guard rail. One of the more glaring "inconveniences" was in this tunnel:

where there was a grate (probably for snow drainage) stretching across the roadway, but a piece on the side had broken, leaving a gaping hole in the ground. This was marked off by a little caution tape, forcing cars (and 18-wheelers) to maneuvere around it in the darkness, veering into the other lane with a small warning honk to get around the hole. 

II: Things that could have had Parasites but Didn't

Sooooo I put some things in my mouth that definitely could have given me parasites, but since this was a week ago and I feel fine, I think I'm in the clear. Isn't nature grand?  ;)

-drinking from Arsha waterfall
-drinking from pipe spraying water into a little stream occupied by cows and horses
Arsha waterfall up ahead
-riding a dirty, sweaty horse until the creases in my palms were black, and then eating meat with those hands...meat that was sitting on a tarp on the ground in the forest
-drinking buckets of homemade wine
-eating sulguni cheese and bologna that was sitting on the table outside for hours with flies and stuff visiting
-eating macaroni that sat half-covered on the stove for 2 days

the pipe is right behind this dzrokha
that big pitcher is wine- refilled 4 times

There are probably other things I've just become desensitized to thinking are unsanitary. BUT I still won't sit on my bed in street clothes- Soviet health logic.

III: Notes from the tamada: Mito Edition

-the most important things in life are, in order of toasts given- health, good neighbors, and children. Without health, you have nothing. Without good neighbors you just drink alone and that's bad. Without children you leave nothing. 
-In Sweden, the social hierarchy from top to bottom goes: women, kids, dogs, men. In Georgia, men are the highest, and that's the proper way
-if you don't finish the whole cup of "wine" (probably the size of 3 shot glasses) in one drink at each toast, you're not doing it right and get tsk-ed at
-a bunch of stuff in Georgo-Russian with mouth completely stuffed, pieces of tarkhun sticking out

PS: I am apparently a bad tamada and my toasts are so weak they need re-dos before people will drink 

IV: Social Commentary?

Dato can't do dishes because he's a boy.

man's work

Nata works all day, then comes home and works on the house because only women can do housework, and she is expected to serve Mito while he plays computer games and online slots, sits with friends, and drinks. He would work if he could, but there's no work, only at the school, hospital, and kindergarten- and those are mostly women's jobs. The men half-work in tourism, which is really only in the summer, and there are like 15 taxi drivers in a town with 5-10 tourists a day in the shoulder season, maybe 30 a day in the summer, and the town can be well covered on foot...

school's out for summer
what is this "sponge" you speak of?

If Nata could have one thing in the house, it would be a dishwasher/newly renovated kitchen. It's very hard to do dishes so often- since she's almost constantly feeding everyone, dishes are also a constant, and because she doesn't have daughters, the only help she gets is from her 13 year old niece who lives next door.

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