Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Last night in Georgia

Eating at the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe Tbilisi.

We may have gone a bit overboard with the souvenirs.

Our last night in Georgia. Everything starts to speed up toward the end. This spring I often found myself looking out the window as we would drive through town, with the soundtrack of life playing in my head; and it'd be like that part of the movie after the protagonist has triumphed over the main obstacle and the story just speeds along with clipped scenes, overlaid with upbeat but conclusive music.

The Georgia we are leaving is not the same Georgia in which we arrived. On the positive side we have noticed much better supply chain management, improved roads and highways, and a general cleaning up of the city where before there was graffiti (of the dilapidated paper variety) everywhere -- litter is an ongoing problem. Many of the old abandoned buildings that have sat vacant for years are being torn down and new development is going up. There has been a deluge of Western-style development that has changed the face of Tbilisi. New shopping malls, grocery store chains, movie theaters, amusement parks, coffee and donut shops, American-chain pizza delivery and fast food restaurants, specialty restaurants, "Georgian-fusion" cuisine, city tour buses, an expanded and better developed tourism industry, and even a Hard Rock Cafe (what?!) have all popped up where before there was nothing of the kind. It's all happening so fast, I hope, truly, for the best for Georgia.

We are not the same people we were when we arrived. It is harder to quantify how we have changed, but, most obviously, we are now a French-speaking family, we are professional packers and travelers, and we are veteran expats. We've gained greater skill navigating the vicissitudes of life, we have an unmistakably clear understanding of what a privileged life we lead, and we have experienced firsthand the joys and tensions of cultural exchange. Our world-view has expanded.

These skills should serve us well, because it looks like we will be doing the expat thing for the foreseeable future. We are off to another post, another life, another reinventing of self and family. We go home to America for the summer, but next fall we begin anew in Moscow, Russia.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Last Sunday


The latest primary song to be translated into Georgian, for your viewing pleasure. 

There is so much to say about our time in the Avlabari Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more than I could ever write in a few paragraphs. Lots of blood, sweat and tears were spent. To sum it up: We had a mission, we worked hard, and the departure was bittersweet.

We will continue to look on with great interest and anticipation at the growth and progress of our tiny branch.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Last fancy night out

After three and a half years in Georgia, I have concluded that Georgians are at their best around the supra table. They come ready for a good time, to share their hearts and hospitality, and to celebrate with gratitude. The Tamada (toastmaster) leads with many different toasts: to God, to Georgia, to the dearly departed, to children, friendship, love, family . . . they can go on and on.

Insincerity and superficiality are nowhere to be found, and it seems to come naturally to them to be able to dig deep and give poetic verbal expression to their most profound sentiments. I'm sure I had no inkling of the bonds that could be forged through thoughtful toasts combined with raising your glasses together. It's a lesson I have only begun to learn from these, my dearest of dear Georgian families.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Last Turkish Bath

I became a believer in the Turkish Bath experience whilst in Tbilisi. It was a bit out of my comfort zone at first, but it didn't take long to convert. And become a regular.

I ask you: What could be more relaxing than the healing properties of the hot sulfuric water, a full-body scrub down, and a couple hours unwinding with girlfriends? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Pack out

Pack out day. If moving didn't feel real before, it does now. It is always an agonizing process. The worst part is at the end of day one when all our possessions are wrapped up in unrecognizable lumps and boxes in our home, and we have to wallow in it overnight. Feels overwhelming and unwelcoming. 

Once the house is emptied, we begin the surprisingly carefree stage of living out of suitcases. This will go on for months. Here's hoping to one day see our things again, in tact.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Last sights

Family room

Dining area

Art projects

Beloved nanny

Friendly farmer

Typical day

Taxi drivers

Favorite fountain

 Church friends/life savers

Next destination

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Last Funicular

Last Supra with work friends.

After it was renovated in late 2013, the Funicular Restaurant became our go-to for any special visitors or occasions. We will miss the exciting ride up, the views, and the food. Oh! The food!

Icy drinks of every variety make for happy kids.

Sulguni cheese khinkhali.

Meat Khinkhali.

Spinach, pepper and eggplant pkhali.



Sauteed potatoes, peppers, onions, and herbs.

Sulguni stuffed grilled mushrooms.

The best virgin mojito around.

Happy customers.