Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Telavi, Not Tel Aviv

Here I am in Telavi! Before I left the hotel in Tbilisi I wrote a long, very interesting, quite philosophical post (How would you know it wasn't interesting or philosophical? You'll never see it.) The computer ate it. So I guess I'll try again and ensure that copy and paste works this time.

So I'm here in Telavi. It's to the northeast of Tbilisi, but ages and ages away from the hotel where we were staying. No continental breakfast here (although I did nab a few of the miniature hotel-brand Nutellas before I left). No one putting water bottles by my bedside when I'm out. Or leaving fresh towels... Damn, I'd love to live in a hotel. But the hotel wasn't Georgia. It was a weigh station. It was where we prepared for Georgia. And now I'm actually in Georgia!

I'm living with a five person family- mother, Lela, father, Zura, little sister, Nini, and two brothers, Sandro and Giorgi. But the elder brother is studying at university in Poland. The house is a little small, but my bedroom is bigger than the one I had in the apartment in Malden, where we lived for about two weeks before I left. And this bedroom has a door! Rock on!

Yesterday was my first day at Telavi School Number 3. I had some serious 'pepelas' in my stomach, I'll tell you that. It was a craaaaaazy day. The classes only last forty-five minutes! And the kids are so disruptive that, in total, ten or fifteen minutes are probably lost every class just trying to get them to stop talking. I have never had such short class times. Even in middle and high school the classes were ninety minutes... and I suspect we were no where near as rambunctious as these kids. Even the smart kids are yelling over each other to answer things, whereas the kids sitting in the back are just joking around with each other and talking. Although once you get into the ninth and tenth grades the talking kind of stops altogether and the whispering and laughing kicks in. Oh, the teenage years, how little I miss you!!

Yesterday I had five classes to sit in on. There was a bit of confusion and the school thought that I had to be getting twenty-five hours of class time in every week. But I cleared it up today and explained that it was only three classes every day- which is what the other language teachers do. And it turned out to be kind of a moot point for today; I went to my first two classes, then the third one was canceled because none of the students were there, and the last two were canceled because my co-teacher was sick. So it went from a five class day to a two class day. I was at home and in front of the fireplace by 12.

On that note, let me elaborate that sitting in front of the fire is incredibly necessary. I've always thought, "I love winter! Oooh, isn't the snow so lovely! And shoveling? It's just a good work out! You burn 190 calories in one hour of shoveling, don'tcha know?" That was American winter. Georgian winter is different. The schools have heaters, but they don't work very efficiently, so everyone has to keep their coats on (really glad I went out and bought all those nice teaching clothes now...). Today when I got to school they told me that the electricity wasn't working. No electricity, no heat. "So that's why all the classrooms have those little, portable fireplaces, but they weren't using them yesterday!" Actually, the fireplaces work better than the heaters. I wouldn't say I was warm enough to take my coat off, but I wasn't shivering like I had been the day before. Improvement! I almost wish the school's electricity would stay off.

It's all completely alien to me right now. It's hard to imagine that I came to Telavi a year and a half ago. The summer and winter are complete polar opposites (no pun intended, I swear). Although Telavi is actually somewhat warmer that Boston right now, because most rooms aren't heated with more than a two by one-foot fireplace, it's hard to get the cold out of your bones. And I'll you tell you, I can't wait til spring.