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Charleston, SC, United States
"Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself." -ACIM

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm Back!

There is soooo much to catch you up on, and I just don't have the time to type it all out. If you're still waiting on an e-mail from me updating you on whats going on, sorry. You're in a long line and I'm trying not to just type the typical 'all is well' e-mails.

But, for this post I'm going to try and upload a few videos and pictures so that y'all can see the Muslim holiday of Byraham and how that all went down back on the 22nd of March. It was a blast I can tell you and despite being beaten with sticks as a way of forcing me to dance, it was a really fun day. Two of my Peace Corps buddies came over to Muganlo and stayed the night so at least I had some other Americans to offer up to be beaten rather than having to take all the punishment myself.

After the holiday, life pretty much went back to normal. We had a PC conference for a week and that was a nice break from being in Muganlo (hot showers every day) where it has just this week started to warm up. There were several weeks in March and so far in April where we have gone 3-4 days without power and 2-3 days without water. Fun times to be sure. I've also figured out that I will no longer asign quizes or tests to be given to my students on Mondays. I thought that giving it to them on Monday would help since they would have 2 and in some cases 3 days to get ready for it. But, as I've come to figure out it just gives them 2-3 days to either forget that I told them about it or to just forget the information. Go figure. I'm working on writing a grant to remodel one of the classrooms and turn it into an English room. That way next year I'll have my own classroom and be able to stock it with English resources. Priority number one: new windows. I don't know if I can make it another year in freezing cold classrooms. School is the low point of my service here so far.

My birthday on the 29th was uneventful which was fine by me. We went to a cafe and had a huge meal and plenty of wine. You'll see some of that once I get done with all the holiday stuff below.
But, rather than all the boring details, I'll just move on to some picture commentary:
This first one was a weekly Tuesday tradition during the month of March. What you do is: drink some vodka, go find an old tire in the barn, roll some gasoline around in it, stuff it with hay, add some more gas to make sure, then light it on fire. Once the tire either falls or blows over, you jump over it 3 times for good luck in the Spring to come. Let me tell you a whole village burning tires lets off quite the smell and nobody other than me seemed concerned for either the environment or their health. But, hey. Whatcha' gonna do right? Here's to hopping my jumping over flaming toxic fumes pays off this Spring.

And to start off this MTV marathon, I thought I would show you some of the prep work that went into making our holiday feast! I mean, what kind of MTV marathon would it be if I didn't show you something being killed right?

My host-brother with the head of one of 10 chickens killed that night.

And that led us up to the actual day of celebration. Don't be afraid of the men in masks. They're supposed to be beating people with sticks. MTV on the scene:

In this next clip you'll see the Master of the Day up on a platform dressed in white. The area below him is where the men in masks would drag people to dance for him and continue to beat them with sticks until they were either tired or gave them some money. Keep in mind that EVERYONE was out for this celebration. The 'center' of the village was packed.

Now the moment you've all been waiting for... ME getting drug down the street and beaten, kicked and knocked around. Ahhh... Muganlo.

Also, here is a picture of my host-brother, a cousin that was in town from Azerbaijan and I with one of the dancers who was also a cousin of our family here. I was lookin a little rough by this point having been drug down the street several times, beaten and kicked. And, the wine combo was not helping much.

The dancing and festivities in the center ended around 2pm and my two friends and I spent the rest of the day visiting homes of relatives who had made sure that we stopped by for wine and food. We went to one of my student's houses (the one from a previous post about the academic olympics) as well because his dad loves me and is a really nice guy. We wrapped up the day back at my house in time for my two friends to witness my 4-year-old nephew take down a horn of wine and quickly pass out for the rest of the night.

With all that done, we move on to my birthday. All went well. My host-family bought me my very own set of wine drinking horns which I will let anyone in America try once I get back next year. You havent lived till you've taken down a horn of wine. (It is what it sounds like it is). Like I said before the day was uneventful, but I did get two cakes. One from my co-workers and one from the family.

The time at the cafe was fun. A band showed up at some point and played a few traditional songs. Happy Birthday among them. I never thought I would have an acordian, claranet and drum banging away at me on my birthday, but so it was. And, to wrap up this blog, I'm posting one more video for you. Sorry for the bad lighting in advance, but it's more for your ears than eyes. This is a video of one of my school's PE teachers singing a traditional Georgian song for me on my birthday. Sort of like his own special gift to me. Now, it may sound bad, but it really wasnt. And, like all gifts, its the thought that counts.

With all that said, I leave you with the musical stylings of Pata! -Peace!