|Sighnaghi in Georgia - "City of Love"|
The aim of TLG (Teach and Learn with Georgia) is not only to increase English comprehension in Georgia but for volunteers to experience Georgian culture firsthand - one reason we are placed with host families. So when I was invited by the 11th grade class on a weekend excursion to Sighnaghi and Georgia's capital - Tbilisi - I thought "what better way to experience this beautiful country than with my students?" When I was in school, the only field trips I remember outside of band (yes, I was a band geek) were in primary school and those were usually one-day trips. Today in America I think field trips are a thing of the past. In Georgia, most schools take weekend excursions once a year starting in the 6th grade. This trip was to be three days beginning Friday at midnight. Yes, midnight. By travelling at night, we save on lodging and can sleep on the marshutka arriving at our destination refreshed for the long day ahead. That's the plan at least.
The evening begin with my host father and brother driving me to school at 11:30 pm. It was Katya's 17th birthday so the trip started a little late due to the obligatory celebration. And in Georgia, that means cake, cola, katchapuri, ghvino and lots of other Georgian goodies! After picking up my co-teacher Lea, we started off on our way. I scored a front seat with plenty of leg room and a great view but the downside is I did not get to watch the great spectacle that was behind me without tweaking my neck. Imagine a disco on wheels for 8 hours and you'll get an idea of why we weren't going to sleep on this trip. Irakli kept me company up front and the three diva's Sophie, Tamuka, and Magda provided surround sound singing along to the music. Madloba gogos!
|Perfect weather for a lazy nap.|
After unloading the marshutka and a quick lunch everyone was off to tour the town. I needed the exercise so I made an effort to walk every street in town including the smaller side streets. There are a few churches in the town and the group eventually ended up at one of them for some nice photos; the panoramic views were spectacular! Making our way back to the town center we picked up a shuttle to Bodbe Monastery, 2km outside of town where St. Nino's remains are enshrined and a holy water spring is named. St. Nino is credited with introducing Christianity to Georgia making the monastery (and spring) a major pilgrimage for many. The hike down to the spring is a pilgrimage in itself down a steep set of stairs and then several switchbacks to the bottom of a valley.
|St. Nino's Holy Spring|
We were on the road to Tbilisi by 8:30 am Sunday and I slept most of the way. At one of our break stops we managed to leave behind Shota who got off for a smoke break as we were leaving. The freeway in the outskirts of Tbilisi has few exits so we had to drive 10km before we could turn around and head back. He was right where we left him and in good spirits but this incident allowed for some great jokes the rest of the trip.
|Acrophobiacs need not apply!|
|Katya and Shota dancing to traditional Georgian music.|
Teens will be teens and after some cat fighting on the marshutka the the mood lightens and the disco starts back up. It could be the McDonald's too - fast food tends to do that. The ride home becomes as lively as the ride there and by 1:00 am Monday we pull into Batumi. For my first class excursion with my favorite class, this will be a hard one to beat!
|Class 11b Urexis School - October 9, 2010|
Thanks for the memories!
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