Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Meeting in the streets, in the shops, in the school

It's a long road.

It's flanked by two ditches on either side, not so deep, but lined with piping which will eventually, I've been told, carry fresh, potable water to each house. For now, the people are happy with well water.

Giant, Soviet-era dump trucks rumble down the pavement and kick up plumes of dust in their wake. I get used to shielding my eyes. Other cars pass at such tremendous speeds I wonder how they don't end up in the ditches. People on the street are eager to greet me; usually a simple "gamarjobat!" suffices, while the occasional early drunk will demand more of my time. The houses here are cozy affairs, reminiscent of bungalows. Almost all are two stories with doors in almost every room leading to the outside. Across the street from my house, a family keeps a small cement store in the front of their yard which sits right on the road. This is a prime spot for parties, conversation, and drinking. Sometimes, Lela and I want chocolate, and we take Mariamee and Ana over to the shop to wake up the pleasant woman and her daughter. She complains cheerfully about the cold.

Georgia is a work in progress. Anaklia is doubly so. The government is busy filling the ditches; the hotel-casino about 3 km away is a year away from completion; fathers work on their homes late into the night, their cold sweat highlighted by the spark of welding torches. They light up the night as much as the full moon. Constellations feel unfamiliar until I can spot the Big Dipper.

In fact, I love the night here. There is virtually no light pollution save for the lights that line the bridge to Ganmukhuri, but that is far enough away that it does not impair my view. I will often pick a mandarin from our grove and stand out in the street, not fearing the very light traffic at night, and peel away while I try to pick out the patterns I know in the sky. I regularly see shooting stars.

In the day the road is filled with Georgians and their language, still relatively indiscernible to me. The children walk to school. I pass groups of them. They giggle and greet me, usually in English. The bolder ones ask me how I am. Sometimes, a car pulls up alongside me and I am abducted for a two minute drive, greatly appreciated on mornings when I move sluggishly.

The children are mostly eager to learn. Some do not study at home, so Lela and I have begun quizzing them on a weekly basis. They are learning to study, slowly but surely. We talked with some parents the other day. They are even more eager for their children to learn. The children ask about me when I am not in their class.

It feels like home sometimes.


  1. I think this is my favorite post so far (have I said that before? Then this supersedes previous panegyrics).

    By sticking so close to your material, truthfully recording the reality around you, mostly resisting writerly flights in favor of close focus on the rich detail of your surroundings, striving to be faithful and accurate, you convey so much more than the scenery.

    We follow your steps and feel what you're not saying, so that when we reach that final line, clear and bare, we say immediately, 'yes, that's what I've been feeling.' This is the way to write.

    For some reason, one very casual detail really snapped the scene into focus for me: 'doors in almost every room leading to the outside' - loved that.

    My attention was caught by your mention in an earlier post of the snowcaps on the mountains and I've been wondering about the landscape, what it's like, the trees and bushes, flowers, hills, waterways - any impressions on these?

    This is my absolute favorite part:
    "Sometimes, Lela and I want chocolate, and we take Mariamee and Ana over to the shop to wake up the pleasant woman and her daughter. She complains cheerfully about the cold." This is just plain wonderful.

    Writing aside, it's good to hear how positive your experience in Anaklia has become, and I pray that it'll continue so, that you will be blessed by and a blessing to those around you. God be with you till we see you again. I miss you and so does your mom, but we're so glad you're having this amazing adventure and especially that you're sharing it with us and everyone in your writing. Love, Dad

  2. I agree..its my favorite post so far, too.. it almost sounded like a passage from a book..

    and the last sentence.... if you ever ever ever say it aloud and tell your host-family..they'll probly adopt you :D its the best 'thank you' for the people around you...the best one anyone could've ever said.

    im really glad that you like it here.. hopefully when the language problem is solved(partially at least) you're gonna have a lot better time..good luck

  3. I agree that your writing is fantastic. The word pictures are beautiful. I only wish it had been longer, so I could linger in your village and world for another while.
    Love, Gramma