On my last morning in St. Petersburg, I came into the kitchen for breakfast, expecting kasha as usual, and was instead confronted with this:
My host mom has been in the hospital for the past few days because she fell and hurt her knee, but she asked her neighbor to come over and make me blini for my last breakfast in Russia. I actually started tearing up, it was so sweet of her.
I spent my last day in Petersburg basically running around like a crazy person: packing, returning things to my program office, cancelling my internet, etc. etc. So I was a little frazzled when I called the taxi service to get a taxi to the airport. I also am not the best at speaking on the phone in Russian– it’s much harder to understand what people are saying when you aren’t face-to-face. So, long story short, I accidentally requested a taxi from the airport to my host family’s house, rather than the other way around. Fortunately, my host dad was able to call the taxi service and fix the problem, and I got to the airport with time to spare.
I flew to Tbilisi via Riga (the capital of Latvia) and traveled from St. Petersburg with a bunch of Russians who were also headed to Tbilisi. I struck up a conversation with one of the women, who was happy to point out the direction of the connecting flight, and then asked me where I was from. Without thinking, I said “the US” and she and her friend laughed. “Well, we won’t hold what Obama’s been doing against you,” she said. Whoops. I forgot, momentarily, that US-Russia relations are not the friendliest at the moment.
Despite the fact that the flight from Riga to Tbilisi left at midnight and arrived at 3:30 am, it was the most talkative flight I have ever been on. I thought I had stepped into the middle of a family reunion, but no, it was just a lot of people excited to be going (back) to Georgia. After arriving in Tbilisi I got a taxi from the airport to the center of town, with a super friendly cab driver (fortunately, we both spoke Russian, because I know exactly one word in Georgian.) Along the way, he pointed out to me various Tbilisi landmarks, including the famous “George W. Bush Street,” complete with a large mural of the former president. When I asked “Why him?” my cab driver just shrugged.
I’ve been spending the last few days settling into my apartment here, stocking up on living necessities at the HUGE indoor/outdoor markets in the city. The amount of fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers for sale is still amazing to me. For some reason my computer is not letting me upload photos, so just picture lots of flowers, smoothies, and vegetable platters. The apartment I’m in is small, but comfortable– the only drawback is that all of the neighbors have a really nice view of the entirety of our kitchen from the courtyard, and also, some of the walls are slanted. I’d be more concerned if every other house didn’t also look like it wasn’t adhering to any sort of building codes. My internship starts on Monday– I’m not sure yet exactly what I will be doing for this human rights group, but I will let you know as soon as I find out!
ნახვამდის! (This is apparently “goodbye” in Georgian– just don’t ask me how to say it.)