Workin' 'Till' the End

One drip. Two drip. Three.

Saltwater began to fill my face, trickling from my head like a leaky faucet. I gripped the shovel with my grimy, blister-laced hands and took one last stab into the mud.

It was the first time my entire body had felt physically tired since I had been here—and I kind of liked it.

I grazed across the hills and valleys of the village known as Switli and took in the beauty of four hours of manual labor tilling my host father's vineyard.

People in this part of the world work hard for their land because, for all practical purposes, need it to survive. If the land is fertile this summer, the grapes and the beans will supply rewards for Mamuka's family in the fall.

In many ways I'm a village man at heart. I am forced to spend more time there then I do in the city and would probably be pacing the broken back roads even if I wasn't.

But it wasn't until I worked in the field did I appreciate the life of those who live there.

Half of me is quite sad that I won't be able to see the benefits of the hard work this fall. The other part is tangled in the mystery and imagination of it all and would be disappointed I wouldn't be able to create my own "field of dreams."

Switching topics. Today was a bit of a shitshow at school.

I had just entered the teachers' lounge when a mysterious man made his way to the nearby couch.

Dressed in slacks, a button-down shirt and a bright green jacket, he didn't fit the profile of a village parent, nor a friend of any of the staff.

I gazed across the room to see if I could find approval, but all I found were blank stares. Several teachers looked at me in bewilderment and some looked away, hoping to avoid any unwanted discussions.

Eka entered the room and soon things became much more clear. As the banter became more vivid, Tomriko, who was sitting not far from me in a corner, explained that he was the ex school director and was claiming that "the school was mine."

For nearly an hour the man paced around the school grounds. The teachers were on high guard for the increasingly obvious bi-polar, skitzo; until the po po showed to settle the dispute.

I was removed from my 3rd period class to sit in on the questioning. I'm not exactly sure why (maybe because the guy talked to me?) since my Georgian is about as broken as the lighting system in the school, but I was there—taking pictures of the "show."

The man of the hour getting an earful.

The roses are in full bloom in Imereti. This one is from the family's village home.

A recent supra feast. The word supra actually translates in English to "table cover," but it is used in Georgia to describe a gathering of family and friends for an event. This one so happened to be for the death of a relative. On the 40th day after someone passes, the family holds a supra in their remembrance and visits the grave.

The first graders had a performance last week. Not sure why they had balloons, but it added to the "Aww."

A parent on the field trip last weekend was more than happy to take shots of wine and whisky at every stop. Crystal didn't turn this toast down.

My new cat friend from the village. He kind of looks like a hoot owl, but rest assured, he's the real deal.

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