After our last breakfast at Hotel Sakartvelo, myself and the other teachers say our goodbyes and board our region-specific marshutkas (buses). I'll be in the village of Zovreti in the Imereti Region.
There are about half a dozen of us in the Imereti Region marshutka. About halfway, we stop at a restaurant with a separate building for toilets. Unlike those in our hotel in Tbilisi, these are Turkish style toilets. We have to pay thirty tetri for toilet paper, the smell is rancid, and there are no doors or even curtains to close off the three stalls. Call me strange, but I get a kick out of it, and even a little bit of excitement about the adventure ahead.Back on the road, we joke about not wanting to be the first off the bus. Of course, I am the first off the bus.
I can tell from our very first introductions that the host family doesn't speak English. This will be a challenge. Just what I like.
As I am waiting for the supra, or special dinner feast, I am sitting at the table with the three year old. He randomly punches me right in the nose. The grandpa says “ooh!” loud enough to get the attention of the others in the next room, but I can’t just sit there and recover. I have to show them that it really isn’t ok. I go up to my room and shut the door, and try to use the opportunity to cry. I don’t cry that much, because I don’t feel negative emotions that much. I don’t know if they are suppressed or really just not there or what, but the fear and anxiety of all the coming challenges that I know about in my head just haven’t shown up in my chest. But I know crying is healthy sometimes, so I do it until my host sister-in-law comes in with the boy and makes him apologize.
The supra is fun, even though I don't always know what is going on. We toast to a number of things, and establish that I can smoke here and my host family won't assume I'm a "tsudi gogo," or bad girl, as is the typical attitude in villages towards women who smoke. Actually the word they used in orientation was "whore," but I don't know how to say that in Georgian. I'm not a regular smoker or anything, but I feel like it will play a role in my navigating and challenging Georgian gender stereotypes.