Up and down the steps we went. It was like a dark and sadistic version of one of those Suzanne Summers workout tapes from the 80s. Goga was on a quest to replace a modem and I was on a quest to figure out just what in God's name he was trying to do.
On the third floor, a dim light led us down a cold and vacant hallway. We heard a bit of rustling from one of doors, so we entered. A pair of beady, black eyes gazed at us, cautiously following our movement to the back of the room. Goga quickly introduced himself and told the disgruntle man I was an American. The man stood up and smiled and told me (in English) to sit down.
For nearly 45 minutes we sat in this small room, watching a stranger play internet poker. I was freezing and quickly losing patience with both of them. Goga had high hopes that the patience would be rewarded with a box of internet bliss. Wrong.
I asked numerous times who the hell the guy was before I was told he was the town ISP master. A man...in a small room...inside the post office...with one computer and a pack of cigarettes...controlled the town's internet.
One thing I've learned about the town of Zestaponi and Georgian culture in general is that you should never expect anything. You may see a vacant building. They may see a bank, town center or mail delivery depot...or internet hub. You should also never plan on set times at school or with family outings...the people run on Georgian Standard Time (which is about 3 hours behind whatever time you are on)
I'm still searching for my set of perceptive eyes and GST clock.
Thursday and Friday were a wash for me. Because of the snow, my school shut its doors. I ran a lot of errands with my family and even visited a friend's host sister (who lives next door to me in my complex) in the hospital, who had just had kidney stones removed.
Yeah, that's right. Kidney stones.
Think 1950s doctors meets abandoned building of cold and darkness. Terrifying.
I could only sit in her room for about 10 minutes before I needed to get out. For a short moment, I realized why everyone in this country smokes and drives like assholes. Everything is stressful and completely unexpected. I'm oddly starting to like it.
This week's snowfall created a blanket of beauty across the area and made Zestaponi the most beautiful place in the entire world (to my eyes). Yesterday I ran across the river and hiked to the large temple, which sits on a hillside and faces the heart of the town's infrastructure.
I imagine it was built in that location because it was a vacant area that could be seen for miles away. But I like to think it was built in that exact spot because of the beauty that encompasses it on a late winter day. And despite whatever stress or deconstructive elements I have, I feel at peace on that hillside...like nothing else matters.