Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Georigan Vacation Day 7, or "Extreme Biking!"

Today started in the wee hours of the morning. Gohar couldn't sleep because she was too excited about biking (bless her heart). She took her book to head out to the kitchen not to disturb my slumber BUT NOTHING PASSES ME. I apparently sleep-talked to her and said “I don't understand” which she assumed was me being awake and confused on why she was leaving the room. She explained and this time I didn't say no for no reason. The time has come for a gentler asleep Lena.

But alas, I woke up a few hours later, not being able to sleep either. Not sure if it was due to my itchy bug bites or being secretly excited about biking as well, or a combination. Gohar and I chatted about prisons in Armenia and beyond and she tried to keep a theme going to make sure I stayed awake but eventually I gave in to sleep. I remember constantly waking up because of my violent tossing and turning.

We woke up tired but got ready for our bike ride. The sky was cloudy so we thought it was the perfect weather for it, and hoped it would become sunnier afterwards so we could go for our swim. We couldn't find out original rent-a-bike kids but just a block down was another option so we chose the two bikes that “fit” best and were on our way. We noticed right away the bikes creaked a lot and regretted not test-riding them first, but they would do. The bike path in Kobuleti was incredibly smooth, so no matter how bad a bike someone had, the path could almost make up for it. There was a nice breeze and we were very happy with this decision. We passed a lot of other bikers as well, but like I would imagine it to be the same in Yerevan, lots of pedestrians didn't really seem to know (or care) what the paths were for and would just block it and there were a few cars actually parked directly on it. The worst was when we noticed a huge crowd not only blocking the bike path, but the entire side walk. We saw that they noticed us so were just waiting for them to move – from either side, but until Gohar almost hit one of them, they just stared and made no effort to move.

We biked until the bike path ended and decided to head back riding closer to the water. This is where the “extreme” biking made its debut. We biked on a smooth path until it turned into rubble and rocks and when we tried to get back onto the bike path had to swerve onto the road right away as there was a car blocking the path and pedestrians blocking the side walk. Two large trucks were driving and even though we stayed as close to the side as we could, it completely terrified me when they drove past. I kept thinking of my parents hearing about my death this way, and me being blamed for it: “There was a very distinct bike path right beside her, but she rebelled and didn't use it”. My parents would never know the truth.
This was taken in Yerevan, but same idea
Gohar and I yelled “extreme biking!” to each other a few more times when we thought we did something cool, and made it back to our bike boys at 50 minutes. We got to pay less and realized how sweaty we were. We walked home which made me realize how strange my thighs felt after not biking for so long and devoured more watermelon in our kitchen area. We changed to head to the beach but when we got there realized the crowd was small for a reason – the winds were strong and while the water may have been okay, the weather seemed too cold for being wet. We decided to read for a bit, then both of us ended up falling asleep for about half an hour, me always waking up when sellers of sunflower seeds and these gross corn puff chips would walk by screaming what they had.

We dropped our stuff off at home and decided if we couldn't swim we could go to the market and check out the spices. We walked about 30 minutes before finding the souk and I right away noticed a very fine strainer I fell in love with – I could use it to make almond milk. It was only 1 lari and it was MINE. We then saw a woman selling spices and again I fell in love. Whenever I sniffed one, I realized it was the main spice of a Georgian dish I loved – either a bean dish or a greens dish. Gohar and I bought khmeli-suneli (three different spices mixed together, on the spot) and seasoned salt and I also bought a small bag of hot Georgian red pepper. I kept feeling paranoid that I would become addicted to these spices and then run out, but I guess all the more reason to come back. We bought spicy seasoned salt for two friends as well and before the day was over, I became jealous of only having seasoned salt and not the spicy one, so I went back and bought that too.
Queen of spices
We asked the woman if she could recommend us a good place to get beans and she gave us a location we followed. Soon after getting there, Gohar realized this was the same place her dad and her ate at 3 years ago. It was a small hidden place, so we definitely would not have found it had the spice woman not explained how to get there. There were two Armenian men sitting and eating and after hearing us speak English, mocked us in Armenian. MY OWN PEOPLE. Gohar asked the woman working there if they had a bean soup and she said no. Crushed, she asked if they had bean dishes at all, and the woman said yes and we ordered two. She brought us a ridiculously huge basket of bread and delicious pickles and a hot pepper. When our bean dishes that were apparently not the soup Gohar had eaten 3 years ago with her father arrived, we realized it was in fact, bean stew, and the exact same dish Gohar had eaten. The 'ol soup VS stew debate! It arrived with forks but we asked for spoons to make a point. We feasted and they were delicious. I was too excited about my spices so I put in some of the hot pepper, which was actually quite hot, and then the spicy seasoned salt and was very pleased about my choices. We asked the woman working what they put in the beans and showed her what we bought and she said most bean dishes just have a little of everything we bought. My dreams were coming true. I took a bite of the hot pepper and Gohar told me to take it to our hostel instead which I didn't understand and am still wondering about. Did she mean as a memory? Or to eat it a later time? But she didn't want it and if I wanted it then, why would I save it to eat it at a future meal? I will get my closure.

The woman told Gohar she remembered her and her dad and Gohar told her about how much Kobuleti had changed in the past 3 years. Gohar then fed two kittens some of our bread and we decided to head back. Tired and full from the delicious beans, we sat on our beds and realized we could no longer extend. The weather on our last day was supposed to be sunny so we were okay with the decision. We ended up falling asleep and waking up not knowing what to do with ourselves. It had been raining and was quite chilly so we decided to watch more House – and guess what, more people died. I was getting used to it so it was not as sad as it used to be. STIFF UPPER LIP and all. We realized we were hungry so went to the market to get some more Georgian cheese, tomatoes, bread, and ice cream sandwiches because we needed a pick-me-up due to the weather. The bread men asked Gohar if she liked the Georgian “lavash” and she said yes. They then wanted to confirm if Yerevan was really as hot as people were saying and Gohar said she didn't know. My room mate had told me it was that day so I secretly did know.

We sat in our kitchen, ate, and watched Arrested Development. After eating the delicious ice cream sandwich, we decided it was time to put an end to the “small” 9kg watermelon. Gohar cut it up real nice and we officially ate the entire thing and have no regrets (except for the time Gohar had too many and felt sick).
Gohar's action shot
On our way back to our room I saw something weird on the stair railing. Upon further observation, I realized that it was a PRAYING MANTIS. It was trying to hide from me but to no avail. I stared at it as long as was socially acceptable and then got Gohar's iphone to take pictures. After learning about their mating habits and becoming a little obsessed with them, seeing it in actual form was a little like seeing a celebrity. I was nervous. Gohar asked if I knew if it was a female or male but I did not. Females are larger but I had nothing to compare it to. Oh if only a male showed up and we could watch the mating in practice—and confirm which was a female. Gohar asked if there was a way to prevent it from getting into our rooms and I replied with something witty but I forget what it was now.
I was so nervous!
At this point it began raining and was cold enough that we shut all the windows. We checked the weather forecast online and the next day was supposed to be sunny and warm so we didn't feel too bad about the weather. We watched some TEDx talks about nutrition, a youtube video of a spoken word artist talking about breastfeeding in public and then watched some more House until we were tired enough to sleep. Gohar couldn't sleep until 2am so she was chatting with friends from Yerevan on her iphone and e-mailing me the few pictures we took until she realized it would be a lot faster with a computer. She eventually fell asleep and joined me in getting one step closer to our dreaded last day :(

Observations: I still don't really get what TED or TEDx is and am too embarrassed to ask Gohar again.

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