Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Training in Kutaisi
The bus ride back from Batumi was fairly uneventful, just absurdly humid on the inside. It was dark so we really couldn't see where we were going and I was also nodding off the entire trip. We got to our destination in Kutaisi at around midnight and the place resembled a college dorm.
Kutaisi was the location where all the cars were put together in the Soviet Union. Since the collapse, it's fallen into total destruction; hence me calling it the Detroit of Georgia (international sister city; Columbus, OH... don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing). Unemployement is high and there are tons of abandoned industrial buildings.
All the guys stay on the third floor with the women on the fourth floor, while all the training sessions are on the second floor, and the cafeteria is on the first floor. This building is in probably the most depressing area of Georgia. I haven't even seen much of Georgia, but this place resembles a post-Soviet wasteland. Farm animals everywhere even though it's an urban environment (I've seen a giant pig, many cows, roosters/chickens, and tons of stray dogs), concrete tenements that look like they have zero electricity, trash everywhere and nothing green (everything is concrete). This place is like a set for a Renny Harlin movie.
The livestock aspect along with the typical look of the Georgian people (somewhat dark and the men have heaps of body hair), really brings to mind Borat and Kazakhstan. But I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't been friendly or helpful during one of my morning runs (I've been jogging in the morning in order to see some of Georgia while also to make sure I don't blow up like a tic) I helped a guy restart his car that stalled; I felt just a little bit assimilated right then. Also, when you run in Georgia, people stare at you like you're crazy (as our program instructor Nino said, Georgians only run when they have a reason).
The overall orientation has been pretty boring. We've been getting a crash course in Georgian for three hours a day, and it's pretty interesting considering they have a completely different alphabet than us. I don't do well with foreign languages, and cramming a ton of it into seven days probably won't help, but I feel like I'm making a bit of progress. The other stuff is similar to the TEFL course I already took, but it's taught by Georgians and is crammed into much smaller spaces. Orientation kind of sucks.
But it will be over on Sunday and I think I find out where I'll be placed tomorrow. In the meantime, we did get to visit an ancient monastery this evening and I hope to go check out the actual older part of town sometime this week (we drove through it this evening on the way to the monastery and it seems somewhat interesting).
It really is quite beautiful when you get out of our neighborhood...
Nakhvamdis (Goodbye in Georgian)
(Picture: The caged bear on the grounds of the restaurant we ate at on the first day... he looked bored, but it didn't fool me)