This is the true story of a Puertorican who joined the Peace Corps in June 2006. This blog chronicles my misadventures in the Country of Georgia and in NO way represents the Peace Corps, its mission or its views. It is my personal blog!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I'd just like to comment how great life has been since Georgian TV started airing Lost. It's great watching it every night with the host family and seeing their reaction as each new plotline unfolds. Great entertainment!

In other news, I went to visit my PST training. I've included some pics from my Georgian crew, chemi meore ojaki. And the only good thing that perks me up during winter are mandarins because they're in season! My host grandparents work in the bazaar selling fruits and veggies so I get first dibs on the good stuff.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Visual Aids

So who knew I'd learn to be so techy in the Peace Corps? Well it is the 21st century. Time for me to catch up. I'm posted some pics on the prior entries.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Gilosavt! The holidays are over with.

(Arianna and I at the Turkish Border)

Yesterday the massive "New Years" tree that towered over the Stalin Statue was taken down. The Green Grinch is back in the limelight!

The holiday season in Georgia lasts nearly two weeks longer here. After New Years Georgians celebrated Orthodox Christmas (7 Jan) and Orthodox New Years (14 Jan). That meant hearing Jingle Bells for two weeks longer than usual in English and Georgian. Today is the last day of the season as they celebrate Orthodox Epiphany aka which means yet another day off. I'm going to need a long time for recover from the holiday celebrations which consisted of countless supras (what is hunger?), wine drinking (my poor liver), and boys throwing fireworks into crowds (Vy Meh!).

Officially classes resumed on 8 January. That entire week I had 1 lesson and that was on Monday. Its entirely normal for students to take it upon themselves to extend their vacation. The week before winter break was supposed to start hardly any students showed up. Most teachers didn't even bother showing up to school. As my counterpart put it on Wednesday afternoon: "Maritza, I don't even know why you bothered to show up this week."!

On the bright side now that it's the second week of the semester, my students are ready to learn. Now that I've gained more experience working in the Georgian school system, I know how I can be a more productive volunteer. I'm revamping my English clubs and starting new projects. I've switched my class schedule around so that I can work with younger students. Now I'll be working with 5-9th graders.

My main goal is to create an English cabinet (library). I'm writing grants asking for funding and resources. So anyone who's feeling generous and wants to contribute, my school would be grateful. The $ goes a long way in Sarkartvelo.

Other projects that are in the works include establishing an Eco-club which emphasizes ways to save the environment. My site mate and I are currently designing a prep course that will help students prepare to take the Georgian National Entrance exams for the universities. Besides that I'm a member of the Trans-Caucasus Writing Olympics committee. The WO is a creative writing competition run by Peace Corps volunteers in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Last year it was for secondary school students, and this year it will also be open for university-level students. I'm also working with a group of volunteers to do teacher trainings throughout Georgian this spring. We'll be visiting different regions and delivering free trainings focusing on different subjects such as journal writing, critical thinking, communicative activities, how to handle cheating, etc.

It's a wonder how much more motivated a PCV is once they come back from vacation. Time to get back to work!
Speaking of vacation, I want to elaborate on my trip to Istanbul because apparently "Awesome and Amazing" don't cut it. So I'll do my best to appease the masses starting with how I ended up in Istanbul. It all started on a snowy Thursday morning when Mark, Ariana and I took the "fast" train (5 vs 8 hrs) to Batumi. It was my first time out west and I was able to see the famous Black Sea. Too bad there was at least a foot of snow. It dampened my desire to take a swim in it. There we gained the 4th member of our expedition, Nitivia. We checked into a small hostel and the first thing I saw when I entered the room was a poster with a woman sitting naked on a 4 wheeler with a snowy background behind her. Classy! The next morning we took a taxi to Sarpi, the Turkish border town. We literally walked across the border, paid for the visa and we were on our way! From there we took a taxi to Hopa and from there a 3.5hr bus ride to Trabzon. What a haggard bunch of Americans we must've looked like once we arrived. We grabbed a quick bite to eat. Non-Georgian food never tasted so good! Unfortunately there's not much to do in Trabzon so we had 8 hours to kill in the airport. Thank goodness for playing cards! 10pm that night we made it to Istanbul.

The first night there I walked around aimlessly trying to absorb everything that was Istanbul...not Constantinople. I stayed at the Antique Hostel which was 5 minutes away from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. For the next week, I explored everything Istanbul had to offer- sightseeing, museums, spice market, Persian rugs, piping hot apple tea, etc. I went to several different Mosques and the Hippodrome which were absolutely beautiful. The artwork inside the Hagia Sophia was spectacular and succeeded in making me feel *this* big. I highly recommend going to the Archeology Museum. For 5 lira, it's a steal. For New Year's Eve, we went to Taksim Square. There were so many people packed in there that I barely had any room to suck in my breath and yell Happy New Year!
As far as life in Gori is concerned, it's been white, white white. It's been snowing for 3 days in the row. I'm getting used to teaching my lessons on the second floor and ignoring the constant *thud* of snowballs hitting the window.

How many snowballs does it take to get the American to yell at us? 5.