Day six: It is Sunday. Avtandil spends the day at the market trying to sell the car he brought to Georgia. Unfortunately no one wants to buy it. Maybe next sunday?
While Avtandil is at the market I am visiting Sopo. She and her husband Coba were our witnesses at our wedding. Sopo is 24. She gave birth to her second kid last December. She got married when she was 18. Nothing unusual in Georgia. She has friends that got married even earlier and by now none of her high school friends remained unmarried. Sopo and Coba live in a four room apartment with their daughters Ana and Nino. Coba?s parents gave it to them a year ago when they moved into a smaller apartment. ( A tradition just like in Romania?)
Sopo is happy to see me again. She studied German in University but hasn?t spoken it ever since she graduated two years ago. She invited two of her friends over who really want to get to know me. Ketti is also 24 and spend a year in Munich. She just opened a travel agency in the city center with a friend of hers. They offer tourist guides for foreigners in Georgia, but also send Au Pairs to Germany. The other friend is called Ekaterina. She used to be an illegal immigrant in the US but came home after five years because her oldest son was still in Georgia and she was unable to obtain a green card. Now she is back in Georgia and lives together with her husband and the two kids (the younger one was born in the US and is the only family member that has a US citizenship). Unfortunately she is unemployed but at least she was able to bring some money back from the US. We spend the day talking, joking, and eating a lot of sweets.
Day seven: Avtandil and I go ?sightseeing? in Tbilissi. First we visit his old University were he graduated in 1995. It looks very nice from the outside since it has recently been repainted. The inside looks terrible though. Everything is dirty and run down and you can smell the toilets from a ten meter distance. We meet one of his former professors who is happy to see him. He tells him that things are very bad at the university. There is no money for anything and the professors earn only 84 Lari per month (about 40 Euros).
Afterwards we want to eat dumplings and drink some estragon lemonade. We drive to a restaurant located next to a lake. Only when already sitting at a table studying the menu we realize that they have neither dumplings nor Lemonade. Avtandil insists that we have to order something out of courtesy. We order khadjapuri and cola.
We take a taxi to the TV tower next. Tbilissi?s most famous tourist attraction. It is in pretty bad shape and I wonder if it is still functioning. We decide to walk back into town, or better to say, to climb town the mountain. It is pretty steep and there are no good hiking tracks. On our way down I fall quite often but fortunately I do not get hurt. The hill must be a popular training place for soldiers. We find a lot o plastic wrapping for army food plus a miniature bottle of Tabasco. Must have been a gift from the US army because the wrapping says ?This good is property of the United States government?.
Later that night we finally eat dumpling and drink estragon lemonade.
Avtandil and the tabasco bottle
Day eight: Avtandil parents come home from the market. They bought three chickens tied together at their feet. I wonder why they bought chickens that still have feathers and everything. I then realize that they are still alive. Avtandils mother, Msia, puts them in the hallway on a piece of newspaper. About half an hour later the chickens run through the apartment shitting at various places and fleeing from my Msia who wants to make soup out of them. Omari, my father in law, finally catches them while Msia goes into the storage room to get the axe and a wooden block. Five minutes later the chickens are headless and I have to leave to meat with some friends.
I meet with Sopo, Ketty, and another friend of theirs in the city center. We decide to so some sightseeing. First we go to a ?museum? which is located in the catacombs of a former high class shopping center. The walls and stairs are made out of marble but almost all the stores are empty and there is only little light. The museum is owned by a former hunter. I am told that he is a hundred years old but I would say he is no older than 80. The door is locked with a heavy chain and a lock. Ketty yells inside that we would like to visit his place. He turns on the lights and approaches the door very slowly. When we get inside I can see a huge collection of stuffed animals. No not teddy bears, the real, dead ones. The place is very dusty and the air is dry. The guy takes us on a tour. He tells us that he shoot 85% of the animals himself and the rest are either donations or animals that died in zoos. This explains the presence of monkeys and tigers. He hunted in all countries of the former Soviet Union and I guess back then there were no animal protection laws. I somehow feel like being in a storage room for confiscated items of the German airport customs. There is everything. Fur of tigers, wolves and wild cats as well as crocodile and snake skin. There are also birds and squirells and the owner arranged them into certain ways. There is four birds who are celebrating a wedding and a group of squirells having a party. They even hol miniature glasses in their hands. Some of the animals have names. Some are the names of actors, most of them are named after politicians. There is one deer that stands on top a table and watches over all the other animals. His name is Saakashvili.
After visiting the ?museum? we go to the zoo. It is a mixture of a zoo and a fun fair. We look at the animals and than decide to try all of the carrousels. Since my stomac has been upset for the last few days because of the unfamiliar food I cannot really enjoy it?.
When I come back home Avtandil just got back from the ministry of finances. He waited for five ours to pay the taxes for the car but when it was finally his turn he was being told that they are out of paper and that they cannot help him today.
The chickens are boiling on the stove?