Had to happen to the African

Posted on March 11, 2012 by


It’s my first time in Georgia, but in all honesty, that does not matter. I say that it doesn’t matter because it’s just my luck that KC, the South African who had never seen or touched any snow in his entire life, would arrive in Georgia at the time of one of the coldest winters that they have ever had!  Had to happen to the African!  I think I am not a snow kinda person.

I arrived in Georgia with my girlfriend and we were the only two people at the airport on that Monday, except for the airport staff. There was nobody there to meet us and we looked at each other thinking, ‘Crap, I hope we not gonna end up in some human trafficking scam, lol!’  We waited about 15 mins and then we heard our names on the intercom and there was some random guy who met us and, despite speaking absolutely no English, ushered us into a car……and yes. We got into the car–what else were we going to do?! Anyway, I am not going to give some minute-by-minute explanation of my first few hours in Georgia, but the story of the first hour ends with us getting to the hotel safely with all expectations shattered.

The orientation week has passed and I was met by the principal of the school where I will be teaching. My host family had not made the trip to pick me up and my principal and I were going to catch a mashrutka to Khashuri….as I had already learned: have no expectations. So there I was, with my girlfriend and 5 luggage bags trekking through Tbilisi, and yes, with no expectations, we were more than ready for this! I was in the marshutka, as cold as a black man from South Africa can be, and to my wonderful surprise, I was introduced to my host mother in the very same marshutka. I know, you’re thinking, What?? How did that happen? and in all honesty, I was thinking exactly the same thing!

Two weeks have passed and I have met my host family of four and have spent a few days at school. As far as first impressions go, it has been one of the most humbling and reflective times of my life. The Georgian people are so hospitable, extremely caring, sincerely curious and very enthusiastic. I had yet to experience all of these qualities in an entire culture and society before. I have travelled a lot and I have certainly met my share of people who have these qualities, but I have only experienced it on an individual level.  Within this country is an entire nation without much to give, very little to make their lives any easier, and yet they have hearts as big as nothing that I have ever experienced before.

My host family is wonderful!  From day one, we were kissed and loved as if we were a part of the family that has just come back from a long holiday. In my family we have a ‘turkish toilet.‘  If this thing called a ‘turkish toilets‘ is foreign to you and if you are planning to come to Georgia, do your homework.  You do not want this thing to catch you off-guard. I would have never thought that while I say thanks for family, food, health and happiness, to be sure to say thanks for the toilet that I can sit on and that flushes! I WILL NEVER TAKE A TOILET FOR GRANTED AGAIN! Anyway, eventually you have no other choice but to get used to it, and if you cannot get used to it, there is always some cafe or restaurant with a working toilet, just be sure to order a cup of tea, lol. I will tell you that personally, it’s something I will never get used to…..and yes, I tried.

My school is great, I am somewhat a spectacle/popular, and for some reason they all think that I am some basketball star..hmmm…I wonder why? I spent the first few days telling them that I am South African so if they want to be some sort of region champions at a sport, we talking Rugby or Soccer.  I must admit that I wasted my time…..so apparently, I am going to lead them to some basketball championship in the future….wish I could tell them not to have any expectations, hahahaha!

Finally, I think that the one thing that I will leave here knowing is that these people can drink! I am not going to go into depth as to how…I think that statement does it justice. I will never attempt to drink as they do again…trust me, rather say NO….it will get you to where you want to be, but saying yes will get you where they want you to be….and you do not want to be there!

In the end, the Georgian people and experience so far has been amazing…and it will continue to amaze me as my safari in this wonderful country called Georgia continues!

Live. Laugh. Love.