Tuesday, December 29, 2015

final chapter

So, if you haven't been keeping up with the saga of my exit from the Caucasus back to Georgia, here is:
part 1
part 2
part 3
and now the final chapter...

Kazbegi Dance Party

After using my razor sharp wit and catlike reflexes to escape from my FSB interrogation on the Russian border, and white-knuckling it through the cab ride from Hell...I made it to Kazbegi! On my lap until the Russian border, and in the trunk for the last stretch, was a big plastic bag full of Ossetian pirogi. After the taxi dropped me in the town center of Kazbegi, I sat on a bench for a while resisting the urge to eat all the pirogi immediately. Shortly my friend Zviadi came to meet me, and we decided to make a little picnic! About 20 minutes into eating pirogi and beer on a tree stump table, sitting on unstable rock chairs in a glade in the woods, in the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, I get an urgent e-mail from my boss. The Georgian Parliament was issuing a resolution on the Russian "border creep" earlier that month, and needed me to evaluate the draft and edit the English, also, my big boss, who is a member of Parliament, was issuing an English statement on the Iran nuclear program that I needed to edit...so, we went back to Zviadi's family home so I could use his computer. While his mom bustled around the kitchen and yard, and Zviadi did something with the animals (oh yeah, they live on a small farm), I supported the Georgian democracy   ;)
I planned then to leave and head back to Tbilisi, but my work took a bit longer than anticipated, and I wanted to go around and say goodbye to all my other friends in Kazbegi. I wouldn't be back to the village that summer. Two other things prevented my departure as well...
1) I was proposed to
2) We had a dance party.

I'm sure you all want to know the proposal story, but honestly it's pretty personal and I want to respect the privacy of everyone involved. In short- I said no. It was half a request for immigration assistance and half "I love you," but...the guy didn't really speak Russian or English, so he recruited some nice local girls to be my translators. Boy was that awkward. I barely know the kid, it was uncomfortable, but there were no hard feelings. 

Thennnnnn Zviadi introduced me to the awesome girls who live on his second floor. These girls are from Tbilisi and rent extra rooms while they work at the big hotel/casino in Kazbegi for tourist season. Just as we were all getting to know each other, one of the girls gets called in to work an emergency shift...but Elena, Zviadi, and I still enjoyed each others' company! Once I had finally given in to Elena's pleading to stay one more night before going back to Tbilisi, the real party broke loose. Zviadi invited another of his friends over, we broke out the beer and snacks (I ate SO much cheese), I played with a baby chick, and we danced danced danced! 
me with the baby chick
me, Zviadi, and Elena being silly
forgot her name (probably Tako or Nino) but she's awesome
Zviadi, Bichiko, and our feast
This small baby cow and I startled each other!

It was incredibly fun. Just taking turns being DJ and sharing all sorts of American and traditional Caucasian music. We turned that top floor into a dance club! Most fun I've had on a Monday in a long time. 

Marshrutka Crash and the "Olympics"

As if I hadn't already had enough complications, the marshrutka on the way from Kazbegi to Tbilisi crashed. It crashed. Slammed right into another truck. Well, maybe not "slammed" exactly...basically, a truck merged onto the highway, cutting off our marshrutka. Other than the front bumper being ripped off, both vehicles were still drive-able. The drivers got out, and while they didn't exchange insurance info (either they didn't have insurance, didn't care, or knew each other- all possibilities), they did find it necessary to scream about whose fault it was for about half an hour.

Eventually the driver (and the men who had gotten off the marsh to participate in the excitement) got back behind the wheel, picking the bumper off the road and handing it to the passengers. We passed it overhand through the marsh and stuck it in the little luggage rack above our heads. Then we rumbled off down the road towards Tbilisi once again. 
So close, couldn't have been more than 20 minutes outside the city, when suddenly we hit a detour. The road ahead was closed thanks to the Olympics...let's be clear, these are like the 5th rate Olympics- European youth Olympics in their first fledgling year, invented by Azerbaijan to make them feel more European. 
So the last 20 minutes of the ride took about an hour of winding slowly through the ramshackle alleys of the city's outskirts. 
When I finally reached the Didube bus station I was exhausted, sweaty, hot, and angry. It was only about 3 pm, and I had planned to go straight to the office to catch up on work, but instead I went home and slept for 12 hours.

What a trip.

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