Friday, September 27, 2013

Georgian Vacation Day 2, or “Flying a Little Too Close to the Sun” Part 1/2

I wake up and feel the sun shining on me. I still roll over and ask Gohar if it is sunny. She says, “yes it is!”.

Reality: I was dreaming. I wake up and it is cloudy and gloomy and I ask Gohar if it is sunny because I am in denial. She says, “no it looks cloudy like yesterday”. We realize I slept-talked yet again and when she went to close the windows during the night because she was cold I told her not to for no reason. Life lesson: I am a jerk even when asleep.

We get up, drink water, put on our running clothes and decide that we will not let the weather stop us from doing the things we planned. We are here for adventure.

We head out and see our host-dad feeding their unintentionally adopted kitten leftover meat and I feel like this is a good start to our day.
Then as we try to get to our pre-planned running route, we see a huge truck with the Azerbaijan and Turkish flag intertwined. Mocking us.

We try to pass the only green patch to get to our destination, avoiding the rocky road for reasons unknown. Gohar yelps and before I ask why, I realize why: we both are stepping in the mushy water as a result of the previous nights rain. No matter which direction we go it gets deeper and a Turkish man sees us and laughs and we try chatting for a couple of minutes before getting to concrete ground and assessing how wet our shoes are.

We begin the run with a great view and a nice wind. The road stops a little over 15 minutes so we know it will be around 30 minutes by the time we head back and finish. The way back has an even nicer view – full of mountains and beautiful trees. It reminds me a bit of the Hrazdan gorge we run in Armenia. We stretch and head home to change because WE ARE GOING TO SWIM. As long as we didn't have measles, we were going to swim, rain or shine. As we change and eat some breakfast so our insulin keeps our cortisol in check, we notice a little beam of light in our room. I skeptically look outside and although it appears the clouds are parting, Gohar and I decide to be pessimistic and not celebrate. We head to the beach and see the lifeguard who tells us to sit near where he is and he will let us use the fancy white chairs at no cost. Gohar politely tells him that we want to head to a less crowded spot so we can relax and read. This of course seems a bit silly since in Gonio the “crowded” area has 3 people. We are lone wolves.

The sun is out. We are not imaging it. The clouds have parted and there is no turning back. WE WILL SWIM WITH THE SUN ON OUR BACKS. I am not used to such big and sharp rocks so getting into the water took longer than expected. I kept asking Gohar if this should be hurting as much as it did. The water was chilly but the kind that you get used to once you dunk your head in. So we dunked and never looked back. It was the best experience so far, swimming in the beautiful sea and knowing that it was still early and this was just the beginning. We swam for an hour or so, which included me teaching Gohar how to do front stroke but not being able to successfully explain zig-zagging her arms. Poor choice of words on further reflection.
The entire population of Gonio out for a swim
We headed out which was more painful than coming in. Gohar was braver than I and walked as soon as her feet could touch the ground. I swam until it was too close to shore to acceptably swim anymore before getting out to avoid hurting my feet on the huge rocks as much as possible. It didn't work and I ended up with sand in my pants. And everywhere else. I asked Gohar twice if she had sand on her in jealousy, I guess thinking if she looked hard enough she would find it and feel uncomfortable like me.

We ate our bananas, nectarines and smashed some walnuts caveman style before reading those books we couldn't get passed 2 pages the night before.
It was around 10am and the sun was out but not strong enough to worry. In about 30 minutes we both realized it was time to get in again and swim. Gohar had warned me about jellyfish, and although they only come out during the hottest part of the day, I kept checking around for them. The lifeguard came and visited a couple more times, talking with Gohar in Russian while I zoned out. Gohar realized that although Russian was the only common language they shared, his Russian was not very good and that he would say “seriously” (serioso) when he meant to say ‘really’ or almost any other adjective. So he would say things like “that area is serioso far”. Just a little note.

When we came out of the water we noticed the sun was a little stronger but still not strong enough to worry. We were very concerned about burning but there seemed little reason to worry – we told ourselves we would leave by 12pm  and head to Batumi until 4pm to avoid the strongest time for the sun. Once we got a little colour from the faint morning sun, we wouldn't burn as easy the following days, but we would still be careful. Around 11am it became strong enough that I began to worry and put a shirt over my face and shoulders – where I’m prone to get burned the worst. I once fell asleep as a kid on a family vacation in what was originally a shady spot and woke up to my face and some of my chest being covered in bubbles. I cooked myself. I couldn't open one of my eyes for a few days and people gave me weird looks. I would not make the same mistake again. There are alternatives to avoid being burned, but we assumed being out early was the solution for now.

The lifeguard brought us an umbrella for some shade, said some more things were serioso, and Gohar and him went for a swim while I kept reading “Freakanomics”. I crept under the umbrella so only the backs of my calves and feet were peeking out but lifting them up so they too were protected. Eventually I became tired and put them down. Gohar and I decided to leave in 30 minutes to head to Batumi. The lifeguard offered to take us there in his car when he was off his shift at 9pm and Gohar and I wondered like grandmothers why we would want to go to Batumi after 9pm. We left the beach and on the way home I saw a middle aged man with a full on sweater on, but with the part that was meant to cover his stomach rolled up, like a belly top. I think this confused me a little too much. I can't believe I may die never knowing the reason behind the belly top.

We changed and noticed some areas were a little burnt. My face, Gohar's thighs, but nothing crazy. We took our stuff and headed to the mashootka stop to wait for our ride to Batumi, where we planned to check out some markets, swim at the beach and have a nice Georgian dinner. We had both eaten a delicious red kidney bean dish when we had been in Georgia previously (separately) and we planned on having that. At some point on the ride, I noticed three men sitting behind me repeatedly making the sign of the cross a little frantically. I became very paranoid and assumed something bad was going to happen like the “calm before the storm”. I secretly relayed the message to Gohar in Armenian of what I noticed and she laughed and told me that in Georgia, even if someone is not very religious, it is very common to make the sign of the cross when passing a Church. I only felt a little silly. As usual we missed the stop at the centre but the mashootka driver told us he would turn around and take us back there. We began to explore Batumi and the beach and were impressed – but also happy we decided not to spend the majority of our time there as it was much more crowded and touristy.

                END OF PART ONE! FIND OUT IF WE GOT REALLY BURNED SOON...!

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