The Country, Not The State

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Late last year I did something big.

No, I did not cure cancer. No, I did not conquer Everest. But what I did do was push myself outside of my own comfort zone. So far outside of my comfort zone that I landed straight in the Republic of Georgia.

That’s right, folks. The country of Georgia. By “country” I do not mean envision fields of corn and cotton, southern drawls, and pickup trucks. I mean the legitimate country of Georgia in the city of Tbilisi, population: 1.5 million.

I didn’t end up there on a whim. Not entirely. I ended up there to meet my boyfriend’s family for the first time. A nerve wracking experience in itself that was only amplified by my lack of knowledge of the Georgian language. This accompanied by their lack of knowledge of the English language, and only him to serve as a mediator, was sure to make for interesting events.

To this day, I cannot tell you what I was expecting or if I had any expectations at all. I stepped foot on that plane a blank slate, acknowledging that it would be an adventure, and nothing short of that. Truth be told, I could have listened to a hundred anecdotes and, still, nothing outside of firsthand experience could have answered the questions I didn’t even know I had.

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Our flight landed in the early hours of the morning. Between the sleep deprivation and the jet lag, I was barely coherent when we were greeted by twenty or so of his closest friends and relatives. It didn’t take me long to deduce that I fit in about as well as I fit into that old pair of blue jeans from high school. Hearing conversation yet not being able to decipher the meaning left me smiling at great lengths and, surely, at inappropriate moments.

What the hell do I know? None the wiser. —Cheese.

Without familiarity of the language outside of “hello”, “nice to meet you”, and a few mandatory expletives, it took all of a few hours before my first mishap.

Freshly showered, preparing to get dressed, I hear his mother knock on the bedroom door. Suddenly, it dawns on me that I don’t know the Georgian equivalent for any word that will delay the opening of that door. I silently damn my boyfriend for not being in the vicinity. Where’s my translator when I need him?

I panic.

I fill the silence with a desperate cry of “one moment!” as I make a mad dash for a towel as if I was running for the 50 yard line. Futile. The door opens. I stand there with a look of horror, grasping my towel so tightly that my knuckles have whitened. Between the two of us, I’m not sure whom was more crimson; me or her.

Talk about an icebreaker.

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Tbilisi itself is gorgeous, full of vibrant life and abundant history. Throughout the city an eclectic mix of both archaic and innovative architecture lined the populated streets. Off of cobblestoned roads were tiny shops with hidden treasures and restaurants with food so decadent you did not feel worthy enough to eat it. And outside of the endless lights and sounds was a subdued, mountainous region that rivaled the beauty of the city held within its palm.

The vast landscape was far from empty, though. Atop of mountains sat massive, ancient stone churches. Within their walls, the structures were adorned with rich textures and religious works of art. Even without considering myself a religious person, I could feel the presence of the church. It was as if an aura emanated from each brick and each surface within. Without words, the place spoke of a story.

The beauty of the city and the beauty of the people was unprecedented. And although the language barrier proved challenging, I could feel the warmth of his family and friends. I could see in his family the same gentle soul that he possesses and I could sense the goodness of the hearts of the people themselves. It was fascinating what could be communicated without ever exchanging words.

And when it was time for me to leave the city, I had had an adventure as I expected —only not the adventure I was expecting at all.

✌️ One Love

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6 Comments

Filed under Travel

6 responses to “The Country, Not The State

  1. As a lifelong traveler who’s ventured solo across Europe and Asia (plus my 10+ years living in Japan), I totally understand the experience of being in wholly foreign cultures! Lucky for you was the bonus of a boyfriend translator! It’s amazing what can be communicated through gestures, chicken-scratch drawings and stick figures! The pix are lovely, the second one especially! (So vibrant on my retina screen.) Thanks for posting those.

  2. You’ve got more guts than I do, traveling to meet your boyfriends family with a language barrier. At least you had help with translation. It sounds like an amazing experience, though! Thanks for sharing. The photos are BEAUTIFUL.
    Miss your face on Facebook, found this blog through Pinterest. I should probably take another break from the poisonous FB. I hope all is well with you and the family!

    • I am glad that you found me! I didn’t fall completely off the grid. I believe that my Facebook vacation is going to be a permanent one. I don’t miss it.

      I would have to say that traveling halfway around the world changed me for the better. It was quite possibly the scariest thing that I have ever done. It was simultaneously a terrifying, amazing, at times lonely, and beautiful experience.

      Although, I can’t take credit for those photos, it was a beautiful place! I’m glad you enjoyed it, too.

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