Communication, Cultural Differences, Family, Food, Social Customs, Village Life, Weather

Red Eggs, Wine and Mud

Ah Georgian Easter! I feel I owe everyone at least some description of how it went down.

Red eggs? Check.
Chocolate? Check.
Relatives? Check.
Cemeteries, supras, and wine? Check.
Food, food, and more food? Check.
An enjoyable weekend? Check.

Arriving back in the village Saturday evening, the cooking was going full speed ahead and relatives were already present in the house. Around 11 o’clock, after I’d already retired to bed, local kids came a-hootin’ and a hollerin’ up to our gate for their red eggs. I threw on my jeans and went down to watch. A short performance, but it created a sense of anticipation for what was the come.

Sunday morning, after a supra-style breakfast and the arrival of more relations, we began to walk to the cemetery. This is what you do on Easter. You go the cemetery, take a loaded basket, sit around your ancestors’ graves and have a supra. I like it. My host family seemed surprised that I didn’t know where all my family was buried and that I don’t regularly visit. I felt a little ashamed of our collective American selves.

The cemetery was on top of a steep hill and since it has rained for about the last 6 weeks the mud was pretty incredibly. Though I was wearing boots, I was worried about slipping and spectacularly sliding down the hill. Somehow, very carefully, I made it all the way to top. Hands on waist, I admired the view.

This cemetery held the graves of Vaxo’s parents and grandparents, so Tamta, Teo, and Giorgi’s great-great-grandparents. Our supra table was assembled and most of the men sat down to eat. I wasn’t hungry yet, so I went visiting with the girls. It ended up being one long visit with the family of one of my favorite students, Nino. Her mother is a teacher at my school and her older brother is a student at the other school and speaks very good English. The relatives were very curious about me, but very kind. It would have made them so happy if I could’ve eaten something, but I just wasn’t hungry. But I still left with an orange, red egg, and chocolate in my pocket. And several glasses of wine sloshing around inside. And an invitation to their house the next day.

Our time in the cemetery was not as long as I expected, but the weather was not very obliging. It had been alternating between raining and drizzling the whole time. Didn’t really encourage lingering. Yet in the attempt to leave, I ended up two pieces of cake the fuller.

I’d been assured that the way down the hill would be better than the way up. Uh. No comment. As I feared, going downhill in deep mud is much more treacherous. Wading was really the only word for it. We were making our way down when I started getting strong suction noises from my boots as I lifted them out of the mud. I wasn’t concerned until Tamta called my attention to the fact that the bottom of my boot was no longer attached. Oh dear. Almost fully unattached. I figured maybe I could sort of slide on that foot. But with the next step, the bottom came off entirely. Oh dear, oh dear. That left my foot protected in only the furry lining of the boot that remained and my sock. The furry lining was the next thing I lost. In moments I was making my way down the hill with only a sock on my right foot. And quite a ways to go. It wasn’t so much the mud I was worried about, it was then rocks covered under it. Only a sock on one foot, remember? With the help of my host sister I finally made it back to the house. Where I headed right for the water spigot. The family got a big kick out of me peering at them through my now bottom-less boot.

After cleaning up and inspecting the holes in my socks, I took a break in my room for awhile. I had a feeling the evening would be another long supra. So I was taking a rest like the rest after Christmas breakfast or Thanksgiving dinner. A few hours later I came downstairs prepared for more feasting. More guests had arrived. They looked familiar, but it didn’t come to me immediately. The bride and groom from the wedding! The one I went to in the fall. I didn’t realize that they were such close friends of the family. Supraing ensued and it followed the usual course.

Neli and Nestani were very intent on making sure the new wife ate plenty of everything. Generally I am now exempt from the intense cajoling to “Jame! Jame!” for which I am grateful. So I could sit back and enjoy the show. It’s very entertaining when you are not on the receiving end. The look of consternation when something is summarily dumped on your plate without you putting it there. Ah. Those were the days.

When our guests were stuffed to the gills, they said their goodbyes and left for home. The table was still swimming with food; it looked like we’d hardly made a dent in it. But it’s the Georgian way. Gracious hospitality. Overabundance. It would be disgraceful for a plate to be emptied and not immediately refilled. Which of course leaves plenty of leftovers for the days to come.

That was just Day One of Easter. There was still Monday and Tuesday. And there’d been Thursday and Friday before I even got home. The next two days were much the same as the one before. Supras, food, wine, and lots and lots of family. Overall the family is very welcoming to me, but I am always saddened by the language barrier that prevents me from really joining in.

Today is Thursday and stale paska is still sitting on the table. All the leftover red eggs are being diced up and transformed into egg salad. Cake pans with a few remaining squares are lingering in the hall outside my room. A few tangible reminders of the weekend.

With the passing of Easter is appears we are finally receiving our spring weather. Positively heavenly the last few days.

The last week of April and it appears spring is finally here. Thanks, Easter.

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