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!

Friday, December 14, 2007

'Tis the Holidays







Gamarjobat,

This is a long overdue update...not because I missed my monthly update, but due to the sheer volume of stuff that has happened in Sarkartvelo since November. I won't go into the nitty gritty details. For that you can go to bbc.com, but to sum up events very quickly there were protests that lasted 5 days in the capital in front of the Parliament building. On Nov 7, the protests ended violently. The President activated a nationwide State of Emergency that lasted nearly two weeks. The President decided to call snap elections. Instead of presidential elections taking place in Fall 08 they'll take place on 5 Jan 08. And that's a very brief synopsis as to what has been going on. Again, I encourage you to check online news publications for more info.

But life is not all about politics.

For Giorgeba (23 Nov), a Georgian holiday in honor of St. George, a Georgian family invited me and my site mates to participate in their traditions. WARNING might be a tad graphic with the blood and all. 9 of us piled into a car the size of a Corolla and drove to the bazaar. We went to the animal pens and selected a sheep and rooster. After being tied up they were *gently* placed in the trunk of the car. Then we made our way to Gori Jvari (Cross) Church which is high atop the mountains overlooking the city and villages. Every time we hit a pothole we'd hear a "bleeeeeeeap" from the trunk. When we finally made it there, we piled out with our offerings. We, as well as every family in the Gori region, went to the church. To bless a sacrifice, you have to walk the animal 3 times around the church. After doing that we walked to a special sacrificial area and paid a guy 5lari (not even $3) to kill and skin the sheep. The area where they did this was DRENCHED in blood and scattered around were misc organs, cut off feet, decapitated heads, etc. So won't go into detail but the sheep was killed, decapitated then hung by its foot from a hook while the guy went to work and started cutting and gutting away.

Meanwhile as we're watching this we hear "Amerika! Amerikeli!" Uh oh our cover was blown. The guys who'd been killing animals all day long called/dragged us over. Then brought out the wine and handed us cups (blood stained cups). So we proceeded to toast and drink for awhile. Later, we took the sheep minus the head and wool back home. Beka laid it on a tree stump and proceeded to hack it into cook-able, eatable sizes. The 6hr supra was indeed one of the best and tastiest I've been too.

I celebrated Thanksgiving in Gori with my fellow regional volunteers. We held the dinner at my site mate's NGO. Unfortunately there were no turkeys available in the bazaar so we made due with chickens. We had a joint Georgian-American Thanksgiving dinner with some of our local friends and colleagues. And in true Gori fashion, one of the toasts was given to Stalin. Then someone recited a poem he had written while he was in the seminary. Who knew he was such a talented, feeling man?

At the beginning of this month, we had our annual All Volunteer Conference. It was held in Bazaleti, just outside the capital. It was in a brand new hotel complex (we were its first guests) built by a large, beautiful lake. The last day of the conference, we held our annual PC Thanksgiving dinner. This time we had actual turkeys! Plus yam, stuffing, and all sorts of goodies you can't find here. The Ambassador attended the dinner too.

As far as school goes, holiday cheer and merriment is in full swing. I've been teaching Christmas carols. Jingle Bells is a big hit and everyone knows it since there is a Georgian version. We've been doing a lot of arts and crafts activities too including creating and decorating a Christmas tree. On the last day of school (28 Dec), we'll have a holiday party/supra in the English Cabinet and the students will be having their annual Winter Carnival. Here, New Years and Christmas are celebrated in January. And New Years is the major holiday. That's when Santa comes and puts presents under the New Years tree. I'm looking forward to celebrating the holidays in Georgia this year since last year I was in Turkey.

Well that's all for now. I wish you all Happy Holidays!

2 Comments:

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