Dateline: Kutaisi, Georgia—09 Mar. 2017
The walking and stair climbing yesterday took a toll that I had to pay today.
When I first woke up, my feet felt pretty good. I was able to walk in slippers with only a slight twinge from the blister on my left big toe. I thought that might be a good sign so I had a normal morning with the Russian grandparents. Most everyone else in the house took a trip to the coast, and it’s been relatively quiet.
After a shower I needed to changed the wet bandages and that’s when I saw that the big blister wasn’t better. It was worse. Underneath the band-aid it was twice the size of what it was when I first put the band-aid on. It looked like a had a grape attached to the side of my toe.
After reviewing my plans for the day, I came the conclusion that any walking would probably cause the blister to burst. That would leave me with a mess in my boot and I’d still have to get back to the house. This would tear it up more and possibly mess up the rest of my trip.
So I decided to swap my plans for today with the plans for tomorrow. This meant staying in and doing laundry today. On the plus side, I wouldn’t have to worry about washing clothes the day before I left. Because if the wires got crossed and I wasn’t able to, I’d be leaving Saturday morning with a bag of dirty laundry. I gave this a better-than-coin-flip odds of happening, should the rest of the family come back. Also Beqa, the only other English speaker in the house is leaving tonight to spend the weekend in Germany. So doing my washing today would prevent all sorts of problems.
I also couldn’t leave the blister like it was. So I headed back down to the family room with my box of band-aids and ointment hoping to find a needle to do some blister popping. Thankfully there was one to be found and after a sterilizing it with a lighter I had one flat blister. To spare the gory details, it was nothing short of a mess and I’m glad I had tissue handy to keep from it oozing onto the rug.
Once it was squeezed out, I applied the Russian kills-it-all cream and covered it back up. A couple of other spots on my left foot got the same treatment. My right foot looks good and didn’t need anything.
With the doctoring done, there was no way I was getting anywhere near my boots. So I stayed in slippers and declared it a lazy day.
The first day here I also did laundry. Which in reality meant I asked Beqa about it, and he showed me the washer and then went to get his mom because he couldn’t read the Russian labels on the dial. He later confessed that he only knew one setting and that’s what he used. Then she picked a setting and added the soap.
This time I was on my own. The washer has one main knob for the cycles and a digital display with time and temperature. I spun the knob around a few times until what looked like the timed wash setting appeared. Fifteen minutes looked good, and thankfully that was the default setting. I did want to bump up the temperature, and the button on that side of the display did as expected. So I added the soap and pressed the only other lit button to start the wash. Success. I’m sure it has all sorts of neat settings but I wasn’t going to try and decipher them.
I checked back in forty-five minutes and I had clean clothes. Now I had to dry them. The wind hasn’t stopped blowing for even a minute since I arrived in Kutaisi. This morning it was blowing harder than ever.
With only a handful of items, I was able to triple up on the clothes pins to make sure nothing blew away. If the wind were to take something from my fourth-floor balcony, it would be across the city before I knew it was gone. After about a half-hour, I chickened out and brought in the socks and underwear to let them finish drying inside. I added a few more clothes pins to the shirts and hoped for the best.
Everything survived, and I brought them in a bit later.
Then I did what I should’ve been doing everyday: study the language. I fired up my iPad app, MemRise, and dove into the lessons. I’m not sure how much progress I made, but it’s more than I knew before. I had used it before leaving, but with the daily exposure to the letters it was easier to study.
Somehow, four hours had slipped by while I was learning the Georgian numbers. That pretty much killed the day. Since I had planned to stay in, it worked out perfectly.
Now I have clean clothes, the ability to count to ten, and hopefully healing feet. Maybe I got more done that I realized.
I haven’t been able do to as much sightseeing as I planned. But I think I have a feel for the city. It’s laid out in a haphazard way that reflects its growth over the last thousand years or so. It also feels more like a car town than Tbilisi. There’s no metro system, so there’s fewer people out walking between places. It also lacks the underground passages for crossing the streets that Tbilisi has. This means fewer street vendors and shops built into the passages.
The previous government built a massive parliament complex on Kutaisi’s west side so the legislative branch could move from Tbilisi. The plan was to spread out the government around the country so that areas other than those around the capital would have influence. The building was built, but then the government changed and the moving plans were put on hold. Had it happened, Kutaisi might be a completely different place than the one I see out my window. I still want to get some photos of the building, even if it is sitting empty.
Small countries like Georgia tend to be nation-states because of how one area accumulates all of the economic activity. This is also one of the things the founding fathers of the United States worked to prevent by creating the Electoral College. The last election showed how the rural vote can take precedence over the large cities, and proved how valuable of a system it is. In Georgia, what Tbilisi wants Tbilisi gets.
In some ways Kutaisi is a big little town. There seems to be enough going on to support the people, but I don’t see it growing enough to become a true second city in the country.
I have enough bandages left to change them out in the morning. Once I do that, I’ll have an idea of how much walking I might be able to stand. If things look and feel good, I’ll head into downtown and find a place to buy some new socks. After that, I’ll see where the wind takes me.
Use the MVW Travel tag to see all the posts in this series.