10 Reasons

Posted on July 24, 2011 by

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An article has been circulating again on my facebook feed: 10 Reasons to Keep Georgia on Your Travel List. It was written not too long after the conflict in 2008 and it presents an optimistic picture of visiting Georgia. Now, several years later, my friends and family still sometimes ask me about the conflict, about safety in Georgia, and about whether Georgia is or is not “in Russia.” I recommend this article to people who ask the first two questions, and a map to people who ask the third.

Reason #3, in particular, stands out for me. When people ask me why I like Georgia so much, I rarely give the standard answers: food, wine, hospitality, dance, or other cultural stuff. Don’t get me wrong – I do like all of those things, especially Georgian folk dance, but that’s not what makes living in the country great for me, personally. For me, the best thing about Georgia is that it encourages me to be spontaneous, to relax and let go of my need to plan and control everything.

People in Georgia just don’t tend to make plans in quite the same way as people in New York, or in many other places, I’m sure. Sure, I have taken trips in Georgia that had a fixed itinerary – the TLG excursion to Uplistsikhe stands out in my mind as a particularly excellent example – and I have participated in events that were planned in advance and went basically as planned. However, Georgia really seems to reward the practice of creating very loose or general sorts of plans and then just seeing how things go.

See, the downsides of the Georgian attitude towards planning and preparation are immediately predictable to Westerners, and things like the drama with flight bookings seem to confirm that in many cases those predictions come true. However, the upsides of the Georgian nonchalance are not immediately apparent, I think, to people who haven’t lived here for a while.

The benefit of having a culture in which people expect a certain amount of upheaval and last-minute change is that everyone learns to be flexible and adaptable, and how to have a good time pretty much regardless of what surprises happen to pop up. When everyone’s receptive to new experiences – to meeting new people, to having a good time in unexpected circumstances – it creates an environment in which you really don’t have to worry so much about whether things are going to go according to plan.

I’ve embraced this cultural milieu wholeheartedly. I’ve relaxed, since living in Georgia, to an extent that is immediately apparent to everyone who knew me before I came here. Seeing friends and family this vacation confirmed that. And I think the principle reason for my change in outlook is this “pleasant unpredictability.” It’s the idea that I don’t have to worry so much because things will probably work out for the best – and on a day-to-day basis, Georgia seems to confirm that idea.

So, do any of these reasons particularly stand out for you? What do you think of the article?

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Posted in: Georgia Links