Sunday, May 29, 2011

Multicultural weekend continued

Since I have to teach on Monday morning, I was going to take the first marshutka out of Kazbegi on Sunday back to Tbilisi and catch the noon bus to Zugdidi so that I would be in time to get the last marshutka to Shamgona at 6 p.m. But on Saturday evening when everyone was talking about what to do Sunday morning before heading to Tbilisi in the early afternoon, they all decided to hire a driver to go up the Georgian Military Highway to the Russian border. (Foreigners can't cross the border, but we can at least see it.) It's something I had wanted to do, so I decided that I would take the overnight train back to Zugdidi to have the extra day with the group. On the train, I'll take a sleeping pill, put in my earplugs, and sleep..... then go to school...... then go to bed early on Monday night. It will be worth it.

Having the extra day with everyone (James, Katherine, Thomas, Mattias, Gil, and Kieran -- Maria had already left) meant another great day of mixed cultures that communicated through the common stream of English. Again around the breakfast table, we laughed and talked as if we had always known each other, often teasing each other for misusing words in one language or another.

The use of language got really interesting after breakfast when our group was getting ready to head out for the morning adventure.

I had just finished brushing my teeth while contemplating Mt. Kazbek's magnificent peak through the bathroom window, and I walked into the sitting room where everyone was gathered around Pitqa (our hostess) with two new house guests. James lit up -- "Ah! Stef! We need some Spanish translation!" The two new gentlemen were from Spain. They knew a little English and no Georgian, but Pitqa (who speaks a very little English) was having a hard time communicating with them.

Once I entered the conversation, the ring of translation went from Pitqa speaking in Georgian to James translating into English the pieces of Georgian I didn't understand. I then translated into Spanish for the two men. The men answered in Spanish which I translated into a mixture of Georgian and English with James' help picking up the rest of the Georgian that I couldn't say. What a circus!!

My brain felt like it was doing mental jumping jacks in three different languages, and I kept mixing them up. In my Spanish translation, Georgian words sneaked in. And a couple of times when I was translating back into Georgian for Pitqa, I slipped in some Spanish words. It was one of the most interesting, but mentally taxing conversations I've ever had!

It was another beautiful day in the Central Caucasus Mountains, and the drive to the Russian border was spectacular. It was worth another night sleeping on a train.....

River valley along the Georgian Military Highway --
about 10 kilometers from the Russian border.

The end of a wonderful weekend full of blessings of every sort

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