Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
26Trip End Ongoing
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One quick story on how wonderful the people of Georgia are.
Last night I got on a mar’shutka to bring me home from Batumi (about 40 km south of Poti). There was the driver, two attractive guys directly behind him, then a slightly older lady with a lot of bread behind them, a young couple behind her, then me in the 4-seat back by myself. Just before we left a man who had been enjoying his beer for a long while got on and sat in the single seat by the door. (looked like this-ish):
2 cute guys (door)
bread woman drunk guy
young couple (empty)
During the drive, the drunk guy was in a good mood and trying to talk to a few people. I have my headphones in and am mainly looking out the window as we head out of Batumi. Drunk guy of course winds up in the empty seat next to me, trying to make conversation with me (in Georgian, so I wouldn’t be able to talk to him anyway even if I had wanted to). I ignore him - thank you earbuds - and pretend to fall asleep when he isn’t looking. The majority of the ride is me pretending to be asleep and ignoring the drunk man. Everybody knows he is drunk and isn’t paying him much attention, but we are all fully aware of what he is doing at all times. He isn’t touching anyone or being offensive so we are letting him be.
After a while, the road gets really bumpy so I am having trouble keeping up the facade of sleeping sitting up without cracking my head on the window, so I have reverted back to looking outside. Drunk guy comes back and tries to make conversation with me again, not really noticing/paying attention to my earbuds. He then pulls out another beer and offers it to me. I decline, so he opens it himself, drinks some then offers me a sip. I decline again. I hadn’t realized it, but one of the cute guys has been watching the drunk guy through all of this. He speaks up when drunk guy offers me the beer a third time, putting the beer bottle practically in my lap. ‘Bicho!’ (boy) he calls from the front, getting the man’s attention, then telling him ‘modi bicho, modi.’ (come boy, come - and no that is not insulting here). Drunk guy slowly moves up to the front where he talks to the cute guy for a minute, then goes and sits in his original chair, pouting.
We are now about 20 minutes outside of Poti, driving in the middle of nowhere and drunk guy tells the driver to stop. He does and drunk guy gets out and crosses half the street. I don’t know if he was pouting or angry or just tired of sitting in the moving van, but we were not about to leave him there. The driver and the boyfriend of the young couple got out to go try and convince drunk guy to come back. The girlfriend asks cute guy something, who replies, gesturing to me, so she turns around and asks me in English ‘Are you ok?’ (with emotion that makes me thing cute guy was told her that drunk guy was harassing me). I said I was totally fine - I have dealt with drunk people before and this guy seemed harmless - and the girlfriend said ok, but seems a little wary. Cute guy then tells me to come up and sit behind him - bread lady has moved aside - so I go up, slide in next to the window and the bread lady, with her large bag of bread on her lap, sits next to me.
I have been castled! In front of me is my protector (cute guy), next to me is the bread lady and behind me is the young couple. Drunk guy will not be getting anywhere near me if they have anything to say about it.
Drunk guy eventually gets back on - in a good mood again, after joking with the two men that went out to get him - and we proceed to Ureki (5 minutes up the road) where drunk guy gets out, with all his stuff and the rest of us continue on to Poti. (Yes, this was his actual stop, we did not just kick him out.) Only when we are driving again does the bread lady move over to give the two of us a little more room.
Before he left, the drunk guy gave us a small bag of chocolates that he had and after we drove away cute guy gave the rest of us passengers a couple of them each.
The remainder of the ride was calm and a smile kept creeping onto my face from what I had just experienced. With each interaction I have had with people here, I am learning how truly friendly and caring they all are. Be it on the mar’shutka, on the street or in a shop.
So if anyone at home is still worried about me, I hope this post will help reassure you that I really will be ok out here in the wide world.