Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anaklia Disaster

We usually try to go somewhere every weekend, but this weekend, another weekend of rain and nastiness, we were stumped as for what to do. My friend came up to my city and spent Friday night at my house. We slept in late on Saturday morning, something we can never do since we’re usually traveling on the weekends, and leisurely ate our breakfast around noontime. We discussed various ideas of what to do but there were no good options. The best thing I could come up with was going to Anaklia, a beach town near by. Sure the weather was bad, but we’d just go for an hour, see the black sea one more time and then come back.

We asked around to a few people we knew and the consensus was that marshutkas run on the hour, every hour, from the train station. We walked all the way down there and asked a few drivers standing around. Yes, the marshutka would leave at 1:00. Where is the marshutka? Oh, over there, and they’d point in some general direction. We’d head over there and ask someone else. Where is the marshutka? Oh over there, pointing in another direction. We headed over there and asked someone else. No, there’s no marshutka from here. You have to go to another station! Come quickly! And this man led us away from the station and down the street 10 minutes away to another station. Upon arrival he asked where the marshutka was and it wasn’t a marshutka, but a bus. And it wasn’t leaving until 2:30.

We were quite angry now. If there was a 1:00 marshutka like so many people had told us, we were now never going to catch it. We walked back to the train station and waited until 2:00 in hopes of catching a marshutka. When 2:00 came around and we asked again, we were informed there was no marshutka here, go back to the other station. We walked dejectedly back to the other station and waited around until 2:30 to catch the bus.

View out the window of the bus in the rain

There’s a reason why people take marshutkas, and I think that reason is because they are fast. Buses in this country are old. And they fit a lot of people, which means they need to stop and go a lot. Crazy marshutka drivers can drive as fast as they like, and fewer passengers means fewer stops. It took an hour to arrive at the beach by bus. We walked along the beach, took some photos picked up some nice sea shells but after an hour we were ready to go home. We hoped to get a 5:00 marshutka, but upon arriving at the bus stop, we were told that no marshutka would come until 6:00.

Last view of the Georgian coast

Amazing shells on the beach
The time was only 4:30 and that gave us an hour and a half to kill. We went into the only restaurant that was open in the whole town. It was quite deserted except for one group of men sitting around eating and drinking Russian vodka. They didn’t really look like restaurant patrons as much as friends of the owners or something.

We were of course invited into the restaurant but it was a bit eerie. There were refrigerators that were probably full of ice cream and soda in the summer, but now in the winter there was nothing. There was no menu. We ordered tea, the only thing we could think to order and sat around waiting until 6:00. We double checked with the waitress, there will be a marshutka at 6:00? Yes, yes, it will come. We were invited to drink and eat with the men there. I refused to touch the alcohol, and I wish I hadn’t touched the food because it tasted like marinated chalk. I couldn’t get the coating of whatever it was out of my mouth until I brushed my teeth that night.

Finally at 5:55 we went out to wait for the marshutka. Around 6:10 an unlabeled marshutka drove by and we flagged it down. We asked if they were going to my city, but they shook their heads, no, no.

We went back to the bus stop and asked where the marshutka was. There’s no marshutka. Just a bus at 7:00. What??? We went back to the restaurant and asked the waitress. Yes, the marshutka is coming, just wait 5 minutes. 10 minutes later we asked again. Where is the marshutka. Well, wait until 7:00, there will be a bus.

Now we’re freaking out a bit. They said there’d be a marshutka at 6, but there wasn’t. What are the chances of being a bus at 7:00? And we’ve learned that in this country intercity transport tends to end around sunset. Maybe we caused too much of a stink in the restaurant because they brought us over to the police station across the street, telling us that maybe they could give us a ride home. That seemed a bit of a strech considering how far we were from home, but I’ve heard of stranger stories in this country. We were brought over and we got to sit with the chief of police. He made some phone calls and concurred that there would be a bus at 7:00. Do you want a taxi instead? Uh, no thanks, that would probably be about two days pay just to get us back home.

We waited patiently in the police office until 6:55 and we went to go wait outside. Where are you going? We’ll tell you when the bus is coming. Just wait. Finally at 7:20 they told us to go wait outside. Another 5 minutes later the same bus that we had taken there pulled up and we hopped on.

All this wouldn’t have been so terrible if I hadn’t told my host mother that I’d be home by 6 because we had plans to go to the grandmother’s house to learn to make yogurt and milk the cows and get fresh milk. I was really excited by this prospect, but getting home at 8:30 meant no yogurt making and no cow milking. All I got to do was take a photo of the cows.

Grandmother's Cows

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