Rainy days are when I make a not-so-lovely cup of insta-coffee, grab a book, and read those rationed chapters I have been holding myself back from reading. Being from sunny southern California, I find the rain is quite enjoyable… for about a day. It’s nice listening to the cliché of rain droplets hitting the tin roof, staying warm in my bed or making my way downstairs to the wood burning oven in the living room, which can lead to a game of Nardi (Backgammon), or a few hands of Duraka (a Russian card game). However, then my Californian-ness comes through and cabin fever starts setting in on day two. The tolerable noises of living with three children become less than tolerable, and this is when I like to take a walk in the rain if it isn’t terribly windy. The host family may think I’m crazy, but I suppose being the crazy foreigner I must play my part on occasion, so I will walk to the nearest town and maybe have a coffee with a friend or two, or just pick up some comfort food that I can snack on back home. Otherwise I end up back in my room playing video games on my computer. Georgia has really helped me with some nostalgia by playing Counter-Strike, a game I played when it was first released when I was my host brother’s age of thirteen, but it is still quite popular here.
If you are coming to Georgia as part of this program and you do enjoy reading, I’d definitely recommend bringing more than you may have originally planned on. I came six weeks before summer vacation and started and finished the Qur’an that I brought within a few weeks. If you’re like me and haven’t quite been able to give up paper books that you can touch and write on, smell the papery goodness and hold and squeeze as you fall asleep, then you can get by through exchanging literature in hostels in the larger cities. If you’re less than set in your ways an e-reader would be wonderful here, and I’m sure when traveling in general.
Of course I do not ask for particular food from my host family and I’m a bit too lazy to make much of anything myself, but cold rainy days are often sided with a bowl of soup. I must say I have really enjoyed Georgian soups. If I’m super lucky it might even be bread day, and the only thing that goes better with soup than cold and rainy days is hot bread and cheese, which can be dipped in the soup: awesome.
If I am feeling ambitious a rainy day is also a great time to study Georgian. I’m certainly not a language prodigy, but when I’m bored it certainly doesn’t hurt to take twenty or thirty minutes to memorize a couple of nouns or verbs—it’s amazing what you can communicate with a few nouns, and not even knowing the conjugations of verbs but rather just sticking a “shen” (you) or “me” (I) in front of the infinitive of the verb. It can do great things when the time comes that the weather is not rainy and you are out and about, or trying to do more than stuff your face at a supra. It even gives the host children something to do when they help me study. Although many times, if the host family sees me studying Georgian, they decide (or are obligated) to study English, which doesn’t usually end well when the children have been cooped up on a rainy days as well.
Perhaps one of the best things about days like this is the following day. The walk to school, although a bit wet at the feet from the muddy road, is fresh and amazingly clear in the village. The mountains are quite visible and topped in white, and come sundown the stars are the most vivid on that long dark stretch between the town and the village, where I often stop to admire them.