Archive for August, 2010

Images and Words

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 31, 2010 by Paul Knettel


Above you can see the view from my balcony outside my Georgian host home. Yes those are grapes on that vine.

I am enjoying my time here immensely. The Georgian family is wonderful and way too hospitable! I have been able to meet up with some of the other English teachers in my area (whom I trained with in Kutaisi for 1 week), and we have gone to the Black Sea for a breath-taking sunset and an invigorating swim! We also played some football (soccer for us strange American-folk) against a group of Georgians, which was a blast despite the scorching heat: so much for a cooler environment than Texas!

Of course, the Georgian wine is uibquitous and typically delicious (although there is one strange breed of wine that tastes of vinegar which I’m not so much a fan of), along with plentiful helpings of Georgian food: cheese and bread, and cheese bread (khatchapuri), eggplants and beans and stews and this tasty spicy walnut paste, also meat dumplings (known as kinkhali) and the Georgian version of ketchup, which is spicier and quite nice.

Above is my room in the host home. I’ll let the picture do the talking on how nice it is.

Also, hopefully at some point soon I will be able to get a picture of my entire host family, but until then here is the 10-year old son, Vasiko, complete with the Texas flag I brought the family as a gift (along with a picture book of San Antonio).

They are very interested in my home and my family, and my car and friends and just about everything! A bit overwhelming at times, especially with the language barrier, but overall they are just amazingly friendly and caring and absolutely great.

Oh one last thing. Yesterday I went to the school in my village (Zeda Etseri) where I will be teaching English for a year. I met a majority of the teachers in the school, all of whom are women except me! There are two Georgian English teachers, Nona, who is 56, and Tamuna, who is 27 and actually lives in a different village and has to take a marshutka (minivans that serves as main method of public transportation in Georgian) to school every day or, when the marshutka does not come (which happens occasionally-it is not the most reliable transportation system) she has to walk the 4km to the school!

Ok for now I’ll leave you with one last view of the Georgian mountains as seen from my host home:


Life in Village Zeda Etseri

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by Paul Knettel

So I have successfully transitioned into living with my host family.
They are:
Fatima, the mother
Gigla, the father
Vasiko, the 10-year old son
Shalva, the 20-year old son who goes to univeristy in Tbilisi but is home for summer
Gvansa, Shalva’s wife
Darejani, Gvansa’s mother

And, and they are wonderful. Georgian hospitality lives up to its reputation. I am constantly being told to eat, eat eat (or, in Georgian, chame! chame! chame!).

The house very nice, although it is being renovated right now so things are a little crazy.

I wish I could show you pictures, but the family does not have internet at their house, so right now I am typing this from a cafe in Zugdidi. Hopefully the school I will be teaching at (which I saw yesterday!) will have internet access, otherwise my blog posts will probably be far and few betweeen.

Today, the family is taking me with them to the market, which should be an interesting and fun experience.
And then later on today we are going to the Black Sea coast for some sunbathing and swimming!

Yesterday, the power went out in our house (a relatively common occurence in Georgia, I believe), so last night was quaint and candlelit.

If you have any specific questions please comment and ask me and I will try to answer to the best of my ability!

Oh, and I am enjoying every minute of this, in case you wanted to know.

That’s all for now!

Can You See?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 18, 2010 by Paul Knettel

Early morning layover in Amsterdam

View of Georgian Mountains from the plane to Tbilisi

Our hotel in Tbilisi

Traditional Georgian architecture in Tbilisi

A centuries old method of transportation still employed in Georgia

Our bus from Tbilisi to Batumi

The President of Georgia speaking to our group in Batumi

Sunset Black Sea coast in Batumi

Remnants of Soviet architecture are prevalent

More Soviet architecture, visible from our training facility in Kutaisi

Travel Notes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by Paul Knettel

My good friends,

I am now writing you from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia! See that picture on the right-hand side of the page? That’s Tbilisi (pronounced tuh-BLEE-see).

So, what to tell you about my literal 24 hours of travel…

Putting aside the minor stress-headache of not getting my full flight details until Thursday afternon, I departed SAT at 6:20 am Friday morning (requiring a wake-up time of 4am…blech), and jetted along to Minneapolis, Minnesota, home of the Vikings and much of my family.

From Minneapolis I flew to Dulles in Washington, DC. Arrived 1:50pm.

I waited, said some final goodbyes via the wonders of telecommuncations, and listened to many a Dutch-person sprechen sie Nederlander.

From Dulles at 5:30pm to Amsterdam, a 7 hour trek overnight across the ocean, and when I landed in the Netherlands it was 7am there (1am to my body). Of course, the flight was packed, and of course I landed a choice spot: squashed in the middle of the middle aisle. Yayyyy. Oh and my neighbor to the left read his DaVinci Code inspired “Knights Templar Novel” the entire flight, and his overhead light bled into my autonomous zone. Who needs sleep?

In Amsterdam I finally met up with some of the other English teachers going to Georgia and began making friends (hooray, I’m all growed up!).

Finally, at 10:40am the flight from Holland to Georgia. And, thank goodness, I managed to score a window seat with an open middle seat beside it. I finally stretched out for a little bit of shut-eye…and almost missed my in-flight meal (not that I would’ve missed much).

My first impression from Georgia was from the air, as the coastline appeared out of the monotonous blue of the Black Sea. Then came fields and villages and cities and mountains, all fairly visible in the relatively cloudless sky. And it was beautiful. Is beautiful.

Not much more to know, besides passport check, luggage pickup, transportation to hotel, a marvelous Georgian dinner, and a brief money exchange.

Pictures to come.

And now, I sleep. Because jetlag is the worst.

Oh p.s.

The Travel Notes (a short sampling of my personal in-flight playlist):

“Melatonin” by Radiohead

“Beleriand” by The Middle East

“If I Go, I’m Goin” by Gregory Alan Isakov

“What’s In It For” by Avi Buffalo

What’s To Come

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 12, 2010 by Paul Knettel

Hello friends!

I am nearly on my way to Georgia where I will be spending the next several months teaching English!

From here on out you may enjoy updates on my experiences while abroad.

Until then, enjoy this:

P.S. For those of you wondering what the Georgian language is like: