Well, it’s been a fun seven months living in Telavi, Kakheti, Republic of Georgia. In case you didn’t hear, I am transitioning to the city of Tallinn, Estonia. Today is my last day in Telavi, so I thought this blog post should be my final thoughts, reflections, my final goodbye to these people I have fallen in love with, this town that I will miss.
Life in Telavi is not easy. There’s only a couple of hours of running water each day, the electricity, at best, fluctuates almost constantly. The roads are being improved, but even that currently just makes life more difficult.
The Georgian language is difficult, albeit fun to learn. But because of how it sounds, it can be difficult to tell if two people are having a heated fight about something…or just chatting about the local gossip. And since there are no official accents on syllables, everyone pronounces words just a little differently.
The people of the Kakheti region are very warm and welcoming to visitors. But getting them to open up to you about anything beyond the daily struggles of life can be a challenge. They are very guarded, understanding from past experiences in the Soviet Union that anyone new is slightly suspicious. And yet at the same time they will gladly give food and money to the beggars that sit on the sidewalk or come knocking on their door.
Christianity, of the Orthodox variety, is very real to them. The devout cross themselves every time they walk past a church, which is frequent since the old churches are in just about every neighborhood. They see anyone outside the Orthodox Church as lost, and cannot fathom any type of Christianity outside their own.
Pride is very real in Telavi. Ask someone if they know how to do something and you will undoubtedly receive a yes response. However whether or not they are actually able to do what you asked about is a completely different story. You could ask five people for directions and they would give you five different versions, each saying theirs is the fastest and safest way. Even if they did not actually have a clue how to get to your destination.
However when push comes to shove, the people of Telavi will stand behind their own. They are proud, but they are also loyal. Once you make a friend in Telavi, they really are your friend for life. And that is why I know that the people I have met in my seven months there will always be a part of my life, always close to my heart.
Kakheti, and more specifically, Telavi, is more than a place in Georgia. It is a way of life. And I am grateful to have been able to absorb it, to be a part of it, and to leave with a little bit of it now a part of me.