Working with the police has its perks; I have Wednesdays off. This isn’t the case for all teachers of the police, but in many cases, we teach 3 days a week. After two days of sitting home without much to do, I decided to take an independent excursion to Senaki. A friend of mine was there helping to conduct a workshop in gender issues, so I stopped by. I was greeted with lunch and a group of randomly-selected Georgian participants from the Senaki area.
Kindly, my friend offered to show me around Senaki, but we soon realized there was not much to see in the small town. Because my friend had to get back to his workshop, I decided to make the short trek to Nokalakevi by myself. Luckily there was another woman who was headed in the same direction and pointed out the marshrutka I should take.
Besides those sitting down, there were about 10 of us standing, squeezed together; it may have been the farthest 15 kilometers of my life. After asking other passengers and the driver to be dropped off at the museum, I miraculously was dropped off in the right location at 4:45PM. Time is a key factor in this story. As I got off the marshrutka, I asked in Georgia, “When is the last marshrutka to Senaki?” The driver’s answer: 5 o’clock! Decisively realizing there was no way to see a ruined castle and a museum in 15 minutes, I decided to test my luck.
I went ahead to the ruined castle that was guarded by three police officers – ranging in age. The eldest of the three was kind enough to show me around. This I was grateful for as there is a hidden tunnel that leads down to the river that I may have missed otherwise. A quick trip to the museum, as that is really the only option at the tiny but interesting museum, brought me to 5:30PM.
The police officers beckoned me over to have a seat next to them as they assured me there would be a marshrutka or taxi coming along even after confirming what the driver had said about the last marshutka being at 5PM. We spent about 45 minutes chatting with each other in my broken Georgian until they knew everything about me that I could actually communicate.
Noticing that I was starting to look a little concerned that there had been no public transportation passing, the eldest police officer flagged down a van to ask where it was headed. Thus led to meeting my two new beer-delivery Georgian friends, Waso and Giorgi. They offered to take me into Senaki, which is where I needed to be in order to take a marshrutka back to Zugdidi.
Another broken Georgian conversation began, interspersed with Waso calling his friend in Tbilisi who is training as a travel agent to translate the few things we couldn’t pantomime. Before arriving in Senaki, the pair asked where I was headed. Upon mentioning Zugdidi, they said they were headed to Zugdidi as well as that is where they are from. Fantastically coincidental! They only had to make a delivery in Senaki and offered to take me all the way to Zugdidi. Waso even bought me a beer for the road.
An hour later, we arrived at the front door of my house in Zugdidi after exchanging numbers. Waso, Giorgi, and I realize there is no real way to communicate on the phone, but I imagine we’ll figure it out. I have come to adore Georgian hospitality – this is another example of the random acts of kindness that occur on a daily basis in this country.