Thursday, November 02, 2006

Globe Trotting: All Grown Up

So this is my second visit to Georgia and I think the 7th country visit I have made since joining the Activists and each trip is a little different and a little more involved. Because of our philosophy of only going into a country on invitation we have had wonderful hosts in each country who handle a lot of the logistics of our work. In Tajikistan that meant two cars with drivers and two interpreters available to us basically 24/7. In Bulgaria, our host accompanied us and got us everywhere be it by taxi, bus, or foot unharmed and on time. Here we do have an interpreter who meets us at the interviews where she is required but as far as getting there we are left to our own devices. Now normally this wouldn't be a problem - you get a taxi, you haggle, you get in, you get there. But apparently the driving rules in Tbilisi were changed recently as were many street names so the cab drivers don't really know where things are. The streeets are narrow and windy and some are one way so even when you are going the right way you feel as though you are driving in circles. That coupled with the fact that we have the names written out in our alphabet, not in Georgian, so many of the drivers can't read the addresses all that well and our pronounciation leaves something to be desired. We took a cab from the hotel to our in country partner's office and an hour later we arrived. She meanwhile was frantically calling the hotel, the UN, etc. trying to track down her silly lost activists. Not a workable system!

Solution: we have hired a driver for the trip and he is in contact with our partner and with our interpreter and with us so that he can get us where we need to be and when. We have also had the addresses written in both english and georgian so when in a pinch or on the weekend when we do need a cab we can at least give the driver a clear idea of where he is going. Levan is our hero for the trip! He is very nice and understands a lot of english and speaks a little (probably more than he lets on) he is a musician and his english comes from his study of music.

Despite our logistics hiccup we are really enjoying this adventure and it is wonderful to be back in Tbilisi. As Mary keeps saying with some restoration it really could be the next Prague. So that is going to be our recommendation to the UN and anyone else who'll listen: Ministry of Tourism. Well ok, fix domestic violence and child abuse first but then tourism!!! ;)

-A. Monkey