1. Georgian Food That I Have Been Eating

    I have been getting a lot of questions about what I have been eating in The Republic of Georgia so….This entry will be show some of the food that I have eaten in Sakartvelo.

    One of my favorite dishes that I can’t get enough of is Khinkali and these are popular among all the volunteers.  They are Georgian’s version of the dumpling and usually are filled with meat but you can find them filled with cheese, mushrooms or potato as well. Khinkali are boiled but you can also boil it and then fry the outside of them to make it crispy, I just tried them this way recently and they are delicious! You usually just put pepper on the Khinkali before eating them

    P.S. I know how to make them now too :)

    Another food that I eat a lot of is khachapuri and Lobiani.  Now these two foods are very similar. They are like a quesadilla but using georgian bread. Khatchapuri is a quesadilla but using the Georgian salty cheese and Georgian bread and Lobiani is breans between the Georgian Bread. Both are very good.

    One food that I love and can’t get enough of is Badijani. It is eggplant stuffed with a walnut paste and sometimes has pomegranate seeds on top.  IT IS HEAVENLY!

    Here is a interesting one that I have never encountered before..I have only had it once so far but it is a good snack. Usually sold as a street food and sort of like the Georgian Snickers, Churchkela is a string of walnuts that have been dipped in the grape juice and flour and then dried.  It is very good and I hope to have more soon.

    Also with the Grape Juice and Flour mixture, you can make a classic Georgian dessert which just hardens into a shape and consistency similar to something between Jello and Pudding. I had this a lot during the first few months I was in Georgia.

    Well that is just a taste of what I have been eating here in Georgian so I plan to more Food entries soon. Since PST ended, I don’t have everything I have posted here everyday. I have a lot of bread, potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes but these are some of the authentic Georgian Cuisine that I have tasted and it is all excellent.

    I promise I will do more food entries because there is many, many different Georgian foods..Some that I have not even tried yet myself!

  2. Catch-up and Remembering PST

    Well as I am now an sworn-in Peace Corps Volunteer, I realized that I did not write about some the events that went on during my PST because I was busy. I have so many pictures that I want to share so I had to pick and choose what events I wanted to share.  I can’t believe I took almost 700 photos in the last 3 months.Before I mention the events,  I just have to say one thing I miss about Tezeri (my home during PS) is all of the flowers:

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    Good thing I only live so close to Tezeri so I can visit again!

    Here are some of the wonderful events that happened in the last month or month and a half of PST:

    1)A whole bunch of the volunteers hiked up to a lake just outside of Khashuri.  It took about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours to get there.  It was very hot so it was a god-send to see the beautiful lake!  It was well worth the hike and it was great just hanging by the lake and hanging with my fellow volunteers.

    The View of Khashuri about half way up the Hike

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    The View was just Incredible!

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    The beautiful lake that I can hike to a lot since I now still live in Khashuri :)

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    A bridge we had to cross to get to the trail, Again can’t get enough of the beauty of this country

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    2) I got to visit some of the trainees in their town they were living in called Surami.  Surami is famous for having a castle in the middle of the town.  I got to go for the weekend and it was one of the best weekends I had during PST…shout out to Kala and Tom for showing me around Surami :) Surami is also only about 5 mins from where I live now so I plan on visiting again as well and taking some people who have not been there to see its beauty.

    The incredible Castle I walked around in

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    Close-up of the castle wall

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    WE EVEN MADE QUESADILLAS WHICH WERE OUT OF THIS WORLD! thanks tom!

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    3)There was the Megobari (Megobari means friend in Georgian) Picnic which was also held in Surami.  It was an event for all of us new volunteers were able to meet the current volunteers.  It was a neat event and I got to meet and hang with a lot of cool people. We talked, took pictures, played some soccer and got to be in a beautiful park.

    Here is my Megobari, Anastasia..  She is a great person and I miss her a lot because she has since COSed.  I really enjoyed getting to know her

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    4)4th of July Event: Peace Corps celebrates Fourth of July in style.  I have to say this past 4th of July was probably the best I have ever had.  There were balloons, Georgian version of Hamburgers and Hotdogs (EVEN PRINGLES WHICH YOU GUYS KNOW I LOVE!) , Games like Tug War and 3 legged Race and FACE PAINTING! I was in charge of face painting and I have to say by the end of the event, probably everyone at the event had something painted by me on them and there were a lot of people.

    Me during the 4th of July Event:

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    One of my many creations in face painting…I think it really encompasses Peace Corps in Georgia

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    My entire Tezeri Family Georgians and Americans together :)

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    4)  The Farewell dinner was great too because it was night before Swearing-in and it was our last time to hang with our clusters and fellow trainees before we went off to out permanent sites.  It was held in a restaurant where we had great food and great entertainment in terms of a talent show :) It was a great time.

    Our Farewell Cake

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    Tezeri and Kvishketi Cluster at Farewell Dinner with our wonderful Kartuli (Georgian) teachers  I will miss these people terribly :)

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    These events are all high lights of my PST but I think the best thing about PST is the 4 people that I spent the most time with.  I don’t think I could have gotten through PST without them and I can see them being life long friends.  Thanks you guys for being there for me and I miss you already…Heres to the next 2 years we have together and the many adventures we will have

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  3. Swearing-in Ceremony

    Well I know it had been a very long time since I have posted something…My laptop has broken and I have yet to figure out how to fix it.  So I am behind on posting everything but I wanted to write a post on the momentous event that happened yesterday!

    I WAS OFFICIALLY SWORN IN AS A PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER IN THE REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA!

    Here is the best picture I have :)

    I am so proud to now officially call myself a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia and I can’t wait to see what I accomplish in the next two years.

  4. Mtskheta, Georgia

    So this was a few weeks back but we got a chance to visit another part of Georgia. I went with a group of Volunteers to Mtskheta, Georgia.  It is right outside of Tbilisi and is actually the old capital of Georgia.  Mtsketa has some of the most famous churches in Georgia and tourists from all over the world come to this town to see the sites.  When we were there, we ran into some British and German tourists.

    Mtskheta is one of the oldest cities in Georgia so it has some very old sites to see.

    This is an old wall that is built around one of the HUGE cathedrals in Mtsketa…it was very impressive to walk around a corner and come across this.

    One of the biggest attractions in Georgia is Jvari Monastery.  It overlooks all of Mtskheta on a very high mountain where you can take a taxi too to see or take a long walk up the mountain to see.  To Georgians it is one of the holiest places in Georgia.  It was built in the location where a king built a cross when he converted to Christianity…the church was built in the cross’s place around the 6th century.

    The view from Jvari Monastery was SPECTACULAR! it was just breathtaking, I could not stop looking at it.  You can see Jvari Monastery on its mountain from every angle when you are in Mtskheta….always keeping watch over the town.

    One of the best things I saw in Mtsketa was Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.  It was just breathtaking inside and out.  I JUST LOVED IT! Not to self and others who want to see this Cathedral and most churches in Georgia, you must wear a long skirt (if you are a woman) if you want to enter the cathedral.

    Outside View of the Cathedral

    This Cathedral was built near the 11th century.  Legend says that Christ’s robes from his crucification are buried under the church because someone brought them from his crucification, gave them to his sister who died immediately and had the robes buried with her.  The cathedral is beautiful and many people come to the cathedral every day to see it.

    The inside of this church is ornate with lots of wall paintings and ornaments to look at.  This is the picture of the front of the sanctuary.

    Picture of one of the walls of the Sanctuary in the Cathedral

    The last thing we saw in Mtsketa was the ruins of an old fortress overlooking the town.  It took a bit to walk too but it had nice views and it was nice to hang out among the ruins.

    View from inside the ruins

    It was a nice day and I just love this town….it was nice to have a Day to relax and see Georgia :) I am definitely going back again.

    Here is one of my favorite pictures I took that day and reminds me a lot of spring here in Georgia

  5. SITE PLACEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT

    I know I am behind on Blog posts…as always but I need to skip over the ones I need to write to post this VERY IMPORTANT BLOG POST!

    TODAY I GOT MY SITE PLACEMENT…AKA THE TOWN WHERE I WILL BE LIVING FOR THE NEXT 2 YEARS IN THE REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA! I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER! but I am getting ahead of myself.

    So today I got assigned to my new home which I will be moving to shortly in like 4 weeks AHHHH! How it worked was that Peace Corps Georgia created a map of Georgia out of string with the names of our sites placed in on the map in the school yard of the school we had gathered at.

    THE MAP OF GEORGIA ON THE GROUND

    NAMES OF SITES ON THE GROUND

    Then one volunteer kicked it off by reading the name on the envelope they had been given and then opening it for that person to read aloud their SITE ASSIGNMENT.  That person who’s site was just read aloud would walk to their site on the map and then read the envelope that they had..and so on and so forth until every volunteer had their SITE ASSIGNMENT

    NASH MAKING SOMEONE’S DAY BY READING THEIR SITE ASSIGNMENT

    AND MY SITE PLACEMENT IS…….KHASHURI!! Khashuri is in the middle of Georgia, in the region of Shida Kartli.  Fun Fact about Shida Kartli: the main agricultural activity i growing fruits and vegetables especially ideal for beet growing :)  I actually live about 5 mins away from it right now.  Khashuri has a population of 20,000 people.  It is about 2 hours away from Tbilisi.  The school I will be working in has 365 students with 4 english teachers to work with.There are other peace corps volunteers (2 to be exact) living in Khashuri with me and about 5 more who live in villages just outside of Khashuri with the farthest one away being not even 30 mins from me. Also in my new host family when I move to Khashuri…I’ll be living with 6 people! WOW!

    THATS THE END OF 1ST EXCITING DAY! Tomorrow I leave to meet the person who will be my supervisor for the next two years and over the weekend I go to Khashuri to meet my new host family and see my new site :)  

    Pictures and a post to come soon as well as posts about other things I have done in Georgia :)

    LOVIN’ LIFE RIGHT NOW HERE IN THE REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA

    QUOTE THAT WAS PERFECT FOR TODAY!

  6. My first Package in Georgia…MY BIRTHDAY PACKAGE IS FINALLY HERE…Bring on the confetti cake and frosting :) THANKS MOM!

    My first Package in Georgia…MY BIRTHDAY PACKAGE IS FINALLY HERE…Bring on the confetti cake and frosting :) THANKS MOM!

  7. Job Shadowing

    I know that I have not blogged in a bit and as always I am behind on what I want to write about…So here I am AGAIN playing catch up.

    2 weekends ago (the weekend of June 1st) all of the trainees had job shadowing.  What this entails is that we are assigned to a current volunteer and travel to his or her village/town and observe how this volunteer lives his/her everyday life.  We observe how the volunteer interacts with his/her host family, co-workers, students and community members. We observe what he/she has done with her community such as projects.  It was a learning experience and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

    I was assigned to a very nice volunteer whose name was Merissa. She lives in Tskaltubo, Georgia.  It is a town of 16,000 people.  Tskaltubo is famous for the old Soviet Bathhouses that the town is built around…They were incredible but I’m getting ahead of myself.  I left Tezeri on June 1st, traveling in a Marshuka (full of Peace Corps trainees) to the city of Kutaisi (the second biggest city in Georgia).  All of us got off at the MCDONALDS..yes I said Mcdonalds and ate lunch.  We met up with our job shadowers and hung out in Kutaisi for the day.  Kutaisi is FANTASTIC and so cool.  I want to go back and really explore the city.  We saw the river, botanical gardens and a park where we sat and talked.  It was a great day. Here are some photos of Kutaisi:

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    Of course I had to provide proof that I was at a McDonalds hahaha

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    Pretty view of a Church across the river

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    Everyone hanging by the river in Kutaisi.

    Anyway, so after hanging in Kutaisi all day, we traveled on by Marshuka to Tskaltubo.  Tskaltubo is absolutely Gorgeous! It was believed that the bath house waters were radio active and good for the bones which is why the bath houses were built.  After the Soviet Union fell though, the tourism declined and the bathhouses fell into ruin except for two that are still in operation.  The bathhouses are located in the middle of Tskaltubo in a HUGE park and the town was built around this park. Such a pretty area.   I loved seeing the bathhouses and learning about their history from Merissa. It was so interesting to walk among the old Soviet buildings.  It really brought character to the town and I fell in love with Tskaltubo.  I could not help but think how Tskaltubo must have looked with its bathhouses in prime condition and living in this beautiful town at the height of the Soviet Union. What people would have looked like in that era. What the bathhouses must have looked like!  It must have been an incredible sight because this town was AMAZING right now! I was so happy to hear that the World Bank is investing on restoring the bath houses and bringing tourism back to Tskaltubo. Here are some pictures of the Bathhouses:

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    Statue in front of operational Bathhouse

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    Stalin greeting people on top of door on operational bathhouse

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    Inside one of the ruins of the bathhouses

    So I was in Tskaltubo to observe Merissa during her classes and also just how she interacted with her community and host family.  It was great! She gets along so well with everyone and built a BRAND new classroom in her school.  It looks fantastic.  If I built a classroom that looked as good as hers did, I would be a happy volunteer.  Her host family was so welcoming and loved having us there.  We cooked dinner for them one night…I GOT TO EAT FRIED RICE! I was a happy girl that night because it was so good.  After seeing all that she has accomplished in her two years of service, I am excited and nervous for when I am assigned to a town or village and all I want to accomplish in my two years of service as well. Visiting Merissa was an eye opening experience and I am so glad it happened.  While I am in PST, I am in sort of a bubble where I am learning a lot both with the language and culture and so to be out in a village for 3 days and to see a volunteer in action was such a good way to learn about every day life.  WE ASKED SO MANY QUESTIONS! Shout-out to Merissa for answering every single one of them!  Tskaltubo and job shadowing was a great experience and was soooo fun.  One of the best weekends I’ve had in Georgia so far. I’ll leave you with a picture of the WONDERFUL fried rice I ate that weekend…shout out to Alan for making a wonderful dinner…your mother would be proud :)

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    Coming soon to my blog…Post about my day trip to Mtsketa, Georgian food post (because I’ve gotten a lot of questions)  and SITE PLACEMENT ASSIGNMENTS!! DUH DUH DUH!! I found out my site next week so stay tuned

  8. Khinkali Time

    Another cool thing that I have done recently happened last Saturday. Maka  my language teacher, being the sneaky person that she is, surprised us all.  She ended language class early and we walked to our designated lunch spot to find out that the reason we ended class early was to have a Georgian cooking lesson! We learned how to make Khinkali FROM SCRATCH! 

    Now for those of you who do not know what Khinkali is, I’ll explain.  It is the Georgian version of a dumpling that typically is made in 2 different ways, meat or cheese.  I have yet to taste the cheese filled Khinkali. It is ABSOLUTELY my favorite food in Georgia.  I have eaten 20 of them in one sitting and they are not tiny hahaha

    So here is how you make a Khinkali. First off, you make the dough by adding water to flour and kneading it into a dough. Typically in Georgia, only women would be doing this the host family that was teaching us how to make Khinkali got a kick out of seeing the boys jump in and get their hands dirty, making Khinkali.  The Georgian family was saying we were better at making the Khinkali dough than Georgians were :)

    While the dough was being kneading, some other people stirred ground meat and a lot of spices together to be put inside the dough later

    Next step is to roll out the dough and cut little circles out, which Maka was really fast at rolling the dough and  Hannah was A PRO at cutting out circles :)

    Lastly, you have to roll one of the small circles out very thing and then put a spoonful of meat in the center. You take the sides and fold over the sides of the circle, enclosing the meat inside.  This can be difficult sometimes because the juice from the center will seep out over the dough and make it sticky.  About 3 of my Khinkali had to go to the Khinkali graveyard for this reason :(

    Lastly, you put it in a pot to boil for like 10 - 15 mins (i think) and YOU CAN EAT AWAY! Georgians sprinkle pepper on them and eat them.  They are very tasty. I love them. You bite through the dough, suck out the hot juices and then eat away at the meat and dough.  The best part is the folded over dough at the top :)

    This is making me hungry…That is how you make Khinkali and I loved learning how to make it, you can basically put anything in them, I’ve even seen it done with spinach.

    YUM!!! :)

  9. My First Birthday in Sakartvelo

    Well Another week has gone by and I know I said I would try to post every day this week, to catch up on events that have happened….As you can see that did not happen. hahaha

    Well For those who know me, you know my birthday is on May 20th.  I am going to have 3 birthdays while I am in the Republic of Georgia and My first one happened obviously this past May 20th. 

    The day started out like any other day in the life of a Peace Corps Trainee. Of course it was raining and not just raining but torrential pouring outside…It rains here a lot around this time of year in Tezeri, Georgia. I taught practicum classes in the morning. I went to Tezeri school and taught a lesson to a class of 10th graders.  Then my cluster mates and I went back to my house (through torrential rain again) for my birthday lunch. Even my lunch was typical because I had requested that my birthday celebration happen after our language class so we wouldn’t stuff ourselves with cake and fall asleep while trying to learn Georgian. We worked hard through 4 hours of Georgian Class and then the REAL fun began!

    Everyone trekked back to my house (through the pouring rain…it never stopped) and my host family surprised me with decorations and a cake :) THE CAKE WAS ABSOLUTELY HUGE! I was still eating it about a week later but GOD, the cake was good.  My host mother had made it and then had the neighbor come over and beautifully frost every inch of it.  It was a wine cake because between the layers of cake, my host mom put wine soaked cherries. IT WAS DELICIOUS! (see picture below)  That was not the only surprise I got. One of my counterparts (the teachers I teach with) gave me a jar of Muraba (fruit that have been pickled in a sweet syrup) which was sooo tasty! My host sister gave me a stick of lipstick as a present.  She is so sneaky because the entire week before, she was wearing different colors and asking me how they were and if I liked them.  Then she gave me one of the colors that I said I loved :) I have gotten so many compliments since I have started wearing it. Lastly, my Clustermate Hannah made me a GREAT card that always makes me laugh when I look at it :)

    The biggest surprise was blowing out the candles. Guliko, my host mom, brought in the enormous cake and lots of candles on it and in the middle was the biggest candle I had ever seen in my life. I thought to myself, they couldn’t have put a firework on my cake and SURE ENOUGH IT WAS A FIREWORK! It shot out sparks and white lights when lit. IT WAS AN AWESOME SURPRISE, as you can see from my face (see picture below).

    I had a fun birthday with good company and surprises.  It was a good first birthday in Sakartvelo…I can’t wait to see what my next 2 birthdays will be like :)

    Happy Birthday to Me! :)

  10. The “Magic” of Borjomi

    So I know that it has been a while since I blogged.  It was a busy week so I really had no time. So, now I am playing catch-up.  I am going to try and do the blog posts in chronological order over the next week or so.

    So about a week ago, A group of about 70 Peace Corps Trainees (THATS ME!), Volunteers and Staff went on a trip for a hike in Borjomi.  The entire week before this trip when I told people I was going to Borjomi, all I heard was:

    "O, that is a beautiful area, you will love it!" or " O, that is my favorite part of Georgia!"

    Everything that I heard just made me so excited for this trip. The people were not lying. Borjomi is absolutely gorgeous and just a magical (yes I said magical) part of Georgia.  I took my first train ride to Borjomi with all of the people who went.  It was very cool and traveling by train in Georgia can be uncomfortable (depending on how crowded the train is) but also very easy to use to get around.  

    The entire group did a big hike up the mountain in Borjomi.

     Little known fact about Borjomi:  Even though it was very popular during the Soviet Union as a resort town, it was founded back in the early 1830s when some soldiers discovered mineral water there….only to become popular when a brother of a czar took a liking Borjomi.  Today it is still a resort town where people flock too for their vacations.

    Borjomi is known for their mineral water.   Literally you can’t go anywhere in Georgia without seeing bottles of mineral water with Borjomi plastered on the side of them.  The water is so popular what many volunteers’ (including myself) host families asked if we could bring them back some Borjomi spring water from the natural spring in Borjomi.

    We walked to the top of the mountain and stopped at a monastery there.It was very cool because the monastery was set amid a ton of trees.  It felt very eerie but very calming,  It was beautiful even if the weather wasn’t cooperating that day.

    We stopped somewhere for lunch and just had a big picnic, continuing up the mountain afterwards and after we waited out some rain that had rolled in.. Our final destination was a ferris wheel at the top of the mountain, sitting by the cliff’s edge looking out.  

    Sadly, it wasn’t running yet because it was the off season but it was still cool to see.  I am definitely going back to Borjomi to ride the Ferris Wheel before I leave Georgia.  We started going down the mountain but stopped to look out onto the view by the cable car platform and get out of the rain.

    BEAUTIFUL VIEWS WELCOMED US IN FROM THE RAIN!  It was incredible.  Sadly, the cable car was also not running either so we had to walk down into the town of Borjomi but the views were WELL WORTH THE CLIMB!  As you arrive into the town of Borjomi, you are met with a mixture of modern and strangely chateau-eek architecture.  It added a lot of character and warmth to the town of Borjomi.  I was literally transported to the mountains of Germany. Gorgeous!! 

    We were allowed to walk round down in the town for about 2 hours and look around.  We walked around Borjomi with its springs ad also playgrounds/Amusement rides.

    The scenery was really picturesque (as you can see, I took a TON of pictures).  I could see why people flock to Borjomi in the summer.  It was just so perfect and peaceful, it was rejuvenating.  I really wouldn’t mind living in Borjomi or close to Borjomi for the next 2 years. I could see myself being happy there, we will see soon enough where I end up (sight placement interviews on Thursday! AHHH!!). We ended this great day with ICE CREAM = The perfect end to a perfect day. :)