Today started like any other day - with the roosters crowing all over the village, my alarm going off before the sun is up, and my cocoon too warm to want to emerge. But emerge I must - I have lots of children who want to talk to me today. And who knows what the day may hold? I certainly didn't!
When I arrived at school, I took one look at my co-teacher Lika and asked her why she wasn't home in bed. She looked terrible. She had a horrendous headache and a fever. I told her that I would take her classes, and that she should go home, but she said she needed to be at school. I didn't press the issue - I didn't have to - all the other teachers descended on her like a flock of mother hens and insisted that she go to the doctor. Georgians are very, very insistent. Lika went to the doctor, and left her classes to me. All the classes went along fine, although I did get some blank stares now and then. But the students know more than they think they know, and it was nice to hold class in English without Lika translating too quickly when someone doesn't immediately respond to me. Of course we didn't get as much done as I had planned, but I think that getting through the lesson is secondary to making the kids think! There are a couple of students in each class who excel, and they have picked up their teacher's habit of translating at any pause. I quickly shushed anyone who started to speak Georgian - they caught on and let their classmates work it out for themselves. Now if I can only get my co-teachers to do the same!
Something I learned today: the "hairy eyeball" (as my dad calls it) works just as well on Georgian students as it does on American ones!
Since it is getting colder and the mornings are especially cold, I have switched to running after school instead of before. Today was my day to run, so I went out for a nice 40-minute run to the bridge and back. Since it was "rush hour," I had to run around a lot of cows who were on their way home. They all looked at me as I ran by - their eyes held no clue as to what they were thinking - they all gave me blank stares. I received a handfull of flowers from a student - so sweet! - but it is a little tricky to focus on my workout while holding flowers! I have decided that the whole idea of a "workout" is not a Georgian idea. Today's experience proved this theory. I had just turned around at the bridge and had passed a few houses when I saw two of my students standing on the side of the road with a couple of women. They waved to me to stop, and I did, killing my stopwatch at the same time. One of the women, Eka, introduced herself to me in relatively decent English and said that she had been wanting to meet me, and this was her house, and wouldn't I like to come in. Of course I didn't want to go in - I was in the middle of my run, sweaty, and not wanting to stop and get chilled - but, this is Georgia, and refusing an invitation is rude - and, like I said, Georgians are very, very insistent. So I told her that I would come in for a minute. She introduced me to her in-laws and her little daughter. We sat at the table and her mother-in-law set out plates, forks, and a bowl of fruit and started cutting up an orange. At least it was fruit, not cookies or khachapuri! I can take oranges mid-run! I thanked her and ate a few sections of the orange. But when she broke out the glasses and started pouring me some cognac, I declined - insistently. She couldn't understand why I didn't want any, and even though Eka speaks English, she didn't really understand either. I tried to tell them that I was in the middle of my run - I still had about 18 minutes to run back home, and cognac would not be good to drink while running. They both looked at me with blank stares (I got a lot of those today). Eka wanted to spend time talking in English. I told her that we could plan another day to have some English conversation. She couldn't understand why I didn't want to just sit and talk at that moment. I tried to explain again that I was in the middle of my workout - I was sweaty and starting to get cold since I was wet and I still had to finish my run before I could get warm and dry. Finally when I said that I didn't want to get sick from being wet outside in the cold, she understood. I promised to drop off my phone number (which I still don't know) on Thursday so we could set a day to talk. She took English classes in college, but doesn't get to use it very much. I told her that we could get together every week so she can practice. She walked me out and kissed me on the cheek as I went out the gate to finish my run.
While contemplating what had just happened, I noticed two pigs on the side of the road. Seeing pigs is very normal, but I thought their "pig-pile" was a little different. Then I realized they were mating right there on the side of the road. They watched me run by with .....blank stares!