Friday, August 13, 2010
Georgia Crash Course
So there's probably very little I can tell you about Georgia that you couldn't find out yourself, but just in case, I'll post up a few links if you're interested.
Georgia is a country, not a republic or a soviet state (hint: those don't exist anymore). If you don't have the energy to read up at Wikipedia, basically Georgia is known for being old, hospitable, and into wine. Really I can't do the country justice, just read up on it; it's got an amazing history.
National Geographic magazine recently published a story about a trade line they are building from Baku (capital of Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea) through Tbilisi (capital of Georgia) on to Turkey which will make Azerbaijan even richer while also plugging trade capital into Georgia all the while making Armenia feel more left out. It's an interesting look at the politics of the Caucasus (the region containing the Caucasus mountain range, that includes Georgia, Azerbiajan, and Armenia).
There was also this article from the New Yorker (sorry, subscriber only) a while back about the Georgian President, his struggle with Russia, and his goal of making Georgia the most Western thinking country in Eurasia.
And then there's this recent issue involving some racy photos taken of the new minister of economic development. The whole thing seems ridiculous and doesn't make Saakashvili's regime look any less of a banana republic.
Either way, lots of interesting stuff going on over there, and I'll be right in the thick of things in less than 24 hours. I am currently in DC waiting for my flight to Amsterdam, where I will catch my final flight to Tbilisi. I'll spend two nights in Tbilisi and then I go to Kutaisi for a seven day orientation, after which I'll find out where I'll be for the duration of my contract and will also meet my host family. Here's to hoping they cook as well as my last host family in Firenze.
If you're interest is peaked about Georgia, I am currently reading Stories I Stole by Wendell Stevenson, who spent two years living in Georgia from '98-00. I would recomend it to anyone trying to get a grasp on the culture over there, but probably not to anyone who might worry about me (Georgia was still very much a 3rd world country during that time, and is not made out to be all that accommodating).
Hopefully the next time I post I will be enjoying some ChaCha on the streets of Tbilisi.
Just found this neat opinion piece from the WSJ about the two year anniversary of the conflict between Russia and Georgia in the northern territory of South Ossetia. I'd like to be as optimistic as this author... And then here's another good look at the Caucasus Wall.
And then there's this writeup from the NYT on Tbilisi from 18 months ago...