Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Allergy Update

After another miserable, snotty, sneezy morning, Reziko and I finally went to the drugstore and got me some allergy medicine. Ah sweet, sweet relief! And I'm not drowsy or loopy, and it only costs 35 tetri per pill (about 20 cents). I can handle that much per day, especially if it means I'm not going to feel like shit all winter (at least not from allergies). Yay!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rain Rain Rain Rain Rain Rain Rain

So, guess what the weather's been like here... ugh. Apparently this has been an unusual September; normally it's considered the most beautiful month of the year in Batumi. But it's only been sunny maybe five or six days since I got here, and the rest of the time it alternates between a dreary drizzle and downright downpour. I wouldn't be so bummed about it, except I'm discovering that with all the windows closed all the time, the allergies I found tolerable this summer (to mold/mildew and cigarette smoke) are making me completely miserable now. Not only is there no air exchange with all the windows closed, but when it's pouring, we can't even go out for walks by the sea, which always clears my sinuses right up. Whaaaaaah.

But it hasn't been all bad. We have had a couple of really lovely days, during which Reziko and I went for hours-long walks that seemed to pass in minutes. Last week, in the first clear day after four or five days of rain, we walked down to the beach to watch the roily post-storm waves and look for interesting rocks. The tourists are pretty much all gone now, so we have the Boulevard and the beach and the benches and the bar by the port back to ourselves again.

We also went to the local registry the other day to find out about the process for getting me a long-term residence permit, which, as far as I knew, was required for folks planning on staying beyond the 90-day no-visa-necessary period. The girl behind the counter looked at us like we were crazy (Why do you want to stay more than 90 days? her gaze inquired), then, after consulting with some other people in the office, suggested that I simply cross the border for a day to restart the 90 days. Wow, great suggestion. I guess we could go to Turkey... Well, that just didn't sound right to me, because I was sure I'd read about the process for getting a residence permit on the Georgian Embassy's website sometime last year when I was preparing for my first visit, so we decided to check back with the ol' Ministry of Foreign Affairs online. Turns out that sometime in the last few months, the no-visa-necessary period was extended from 90 days to 360! That's almost a whole year! So, I guess THAT problem's been resolved. And the United Airlines lady in DC didn't want to let me leave without a return ticket......

My and Reziko's language lessons are heating back up, as I slowly start to chip away at my Georgian beginner's textbook, and we review the English he studied this summer in preparation for further work. I've also had a little translating work to do, but I haven't been terribly active in seeking non-Reziko students of English yet.

There has also been lots of reception planning going on, from haggling over the date (the 10th. No, the 11th. No, the 12th! No, the 11th again!), to finalizing the guest list (slashed at Reziko's insistence from 250 to around 100), to writing the grocery list (meat to vegetable ratio around 10:1). In the next couple of weeks I'll be purdied up with dress and hairstyle, myriad livestock will be handpicked and butchered from the farms around Batumi, the post-no-roof-during-rain-season disaster that is our living room will be repaired, and we'll all be ready to have a grand old time.

I'm extremely happy to report that I have not had a single intestinal problem since arriving (knock on wood), which I attribute to generally less pigging out on pork and drinking of tap water than this summer. I'm hoping my luck holds out at LEAST till after my parents' visit - they arrive next week! - so that we can have a good time together, eat a lot at the reception, and not have to worry about me feeling ill constantly. Speaking of their visit, I hope the weather clears up! We have lots of neat things to show them if the weather cooperates, but I'm afraid if it's super-rainy the whole time, our options become much more limited. This isn't exactly a huge metropolitan area, after all. Well, we'll figure it out.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back in Batumi

Welcome to the recently renovated blog, which I am hoping to NOT abandon without warning like last time.

I got in last Saturday and had pretty awful jet lag for about three days and couldn't sleep at night, and I also came down with a cold a day after getting here (that's what I get for a week and a half of traveling around and not sleeping enough). But I appear to be pretty fully adjusted already, which is amazing, since it always seemed to take longer in Russia (same time zone). Maybe because the weather's nicer here. I've been in Batumi for a week now, and it has passed as if in a single day! We've managed nonetheless to have a few adventures. The day after I arrived, a huge storm blew in from Turkey and we had monsoon-like rains off and on for three days straight. This happens frequently, and usually isn't a problem, but this time, part of our roof was gone (it was in the rather slow process of being replaced), and so half of the upstairs got completely soaked. It also fried the electricity, so Reziko and I are still sitting in the dark in our room.

Why only in our room? Well, apparently, during the Soviet Union it was common practice to have two kinds of electricity running to your house: left and right. Right electricity was funneled through the meter; you ran your TV and lamps and whatnot on it, and you paid for it. Left electricity bypassed the meter; you ran your washing machine and other big appliances on it and got it for free. Legal? No. Widespread? Absolutely. Today the government has wiped out this practice by placing meters on the street before where the electric lines are split for each home, but the electrical systems themselves haven't been updated. Thus, our room is on left electricity, and that's the one that fried. We're still waiting for the electrician.

In other news, I've managed to get some baking done the past few days. I made peanut butter cookies and chicken pot pie, both of which went over rather well. Poor Inga's been sick (drinking bad water, perhaps?) so I've had the run of the kitchen, which has been nice. Not that I want her to be sick more often. I'm getting a little more assertive about cooking and whatnot, and now that I'm part of the family, Inga's been more willing to let me go wild with the cooking and cleaning and whatnot. It's a good feeling to be contributing, as well as to have a sense of control over my life and my space that is often lacking when you live with a host family (or your sweetheart's parents).

The past couple of days the weather has been great - it's warm and sunny during the day, but quite cool at night. Reziko and I have gone for some really great walks, and it's getting even nicer now that there are fewer tourists.

This first week has been a bit lazy, but we're gearing up to start our language lessons - Reziko learning English, of course, and me Georgian. I am still hoping to get a few English students while I'm here to help cover the cost of our plane tickets home.

Speaking of, no word yet on our visa petition. We know it's been received and it's in the works, but it can be a couple months or more before we hear anything - unless they need further documentation or something like that. Keep your fingers crossed that all will go smoothly - we'd love to be in the US as early next year as possible!

Not much else to report. Oh, except that the grapes are ripe and boy are they delicious! Nice to be living in the cradle of winemaking. :) Hope all at home is well!