Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One crappy day

Yesterday was so fine that site mate Sally and I went to the bazar twice! First trip was to buy kettles and jars and lids for canning. We were so loaded down with supplies that a man at our favorite housewares store gave us a ride to my house. (Okay. So I wasn't forceful enough to say which road to take, but we did get to my place eventually.) Then we walked to the bazar again to get fruits and veggies for canning: tomatoes, plums, figs, peaches. It was a good day.

Overnight the weather changed and so did my mood. I could hear the rain pounding on the roof of my house and that meant no electricity when I got up. The morning was so dark that I lit a couple candles in the kitchen, then the gas balloon to boil water for tea and hot cereal. I used the light on my cell phone to check that the mouse stuck in my oven was indeed dead, but that meant I'd have to figure how to remove it. Ish.

Wearing my headlamp and putting 3 plastic bags on each hand, I gingerly tugged at the mouse cadaver until it came free of the oven. I triple wrapped it for the garbage bag which I again wrapped and tied. I put on my colorful "farmer" boots for the quarter-mile walk down a muddy road to the garbage dump. One bright spot was a young girl who insisted on accompanying me though the muck.

Coming back from that chore, I decided I would make more blackberry jam now that I had sugar again. Three cups of berries plus 3 cups of sugar and some lemon juice in a kettle on the propane gas balloon. That's when the gas ran out and I was stuck. No gas. No electricity. Rain coming down. I had no idea where to get the gas filled, so I called my teacher counterpart who lives nearby. Instead, he came over in the pouring rain, took the tank to be filled, and returned with it in 45 minutes. Such kind effort I returned with a jar from my first batch of blackberry jam. He accepted it when I said his wife should add it to her tea tonight.

All this happened before 1pm. Finally with one source for cooking, I was able to make a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, but that was the last of my bread. I also finished making the blackberry jam, but ran out of small jars and had to fill a one liter jar instead. I spent a lot of time washing dishes and wiping up where I spilled.
I was restless for the rest of the day. No electricity means not enough light to read or to prepare materials for an upcoming teachers workshop. I wrote an email rant to my family just to feel better. And writing this blog helps too. Summer has been mostly good in Masalli, but there can be one crappy day that becomes more memorable than all those bright ones.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Short Visit to Tblisi

I wonder why the country of Georgia next door to Azerbaijan feels so different? It simply could be that I was a tourist there for only 3 days, or it could have been the wonderful white wine. But I would definitely like to visit again - maybe even travel to Stalin's birthplace out of curiosity.

PCV Elaine and I trudged over cobblestone streets to churches in old Tblisi that are being restored and to several national museums. She planned the route and I memorized the requisite Georgian phrases for "Please" and "Thank you." We will forever laugh over her appropriating breakfast food from some Russian-speaking hotel guests at the common table one morning.

Not only did we visit several Eastern Orthodox churches, but we also came upon a synagogue that others said had never been shut during the soviet occupation. It did not need the refurbishing that was going on in the Christian churches. All were well-lit and appeared to be well-used. There were also many religious stores thru out the old city.

Three exhibits at the National Gallery were impressive: pre-Christian artifacts including jewelry from 300 B.C, the Soviet Occupation and Resistance with horrendous firing-squad photos, and hundreds of photos of Georgia taken between 1890 and 1900. No wonder this visit was memorable.

And the wine. We never had a disappointing glass. Okay, so we hadn't had wine since Christmas.

The most impressive sight is the new Peace Bridge visited by thousands on the warm summer night we were there. Lots of families enjoying the evening breeze, dancing fountain, and music.

The biggest snafu in our brief visit was the cloud-burst we endured walking across the border as we returned to Azerbaijan. We both got drenched in the 5 minutes it took to go from one checkpoint to the other.