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I had to make another visa run to Georgia. I hope this is the last one! Not because I don’t like Georgia but doing the 3 x 3 bounce is so old. What is a three by three bounce? This is when I have to fly three hours in one direction to fly back, albeit at a slightly different angle, three hours to Tbilisi. In reality, it is two hours and twenty minutes in one direction and two hours and thirty in the other direction, but that sounds overtly precise and hence boring.
Georgia was as welcoming as it always is for tourists. I think I am getting used to this sincere and generous welcome past the point of surprise. Not that I am taking it for granted. I would never do that but, I was less surprised when my friend/brother (from another Mother) picked me up at the airport and joined me for a great lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. We spent the afternoon catching up and enjoying each other's company as if it hadn’t been a week. It had been almost three months.
I returned to the Mais Guest House and settled in for the potential two or three-week process to begin on Monday. While I have found a professional person to do all the filing and paperwork it is always a gamble when it comes to time. I had the weekend to kick back and enjoy some cigars with friends at the Davidoff Cigar Lounge. It was a great reunion, and we all fell back into the comfortable routine cigar smokers have and understand. If you’re not a cigar smoker well, I can’t explain it. We all caught up on current events, and I spent lots of time and effort explaining exactly what is a Donald Trump and how this could have happened in the self-proclaimed greatest democracy in the world. It was very much like watching your high school tough guy get his ass handed to him by a Catholic School Cheerleader Squad for the Georgians. They were kilometers past 'couldn’t believe it' status. I got the impression it shook their faith in the democratic process. To put this into perspective, you have to remember how hard and how many people sacrificed everything to achieve the government they now enjoy. We are not talking distance past events or obscure events referenced in speeches by people they don’t know. No, we are talking individuals who held the very hands of the dying. The ones who lived for months without power, water, and getting bread required a ticket and a trip across town. A city plunged into chaos and lawlessness while staring down the twin barrels of external influencing super powers.
I did as much as I could to explain the electoral college and how that system worked and how the courts would act as a buffer to the more crazy ideas that the Office of POTUS might try to run with. It didn’t go a very long way to reassure, but it did add up to some very good topics to discuss and so the room was lively with the discussion.
The Russian Consulate is in the Swiss Embassy compound and the line up to get in is a chaotic affair. Line and turns are never as simple as saying they are in London England. When I finally got to the window the lady behind the glass recognized me and smiled and seemed impressed that my Russian had improved as much as it has. She commented my accent is getting better. She then also handed back my paperwork and said I needed to complete it in Russian. I was surprised as the last time she wouldn’t take it completed in Russian.
I returned to my professional, and she was as surprised as I was. So surprised that she pulled out Google Translate to make sure what I was saying was what she understood I was saying. Translation complete we did the paperwork again in Russian and added a photocopy of my last visa to the one containing my identification page of my passport. A new addition to the requirement from last time.
I returned with two sets of applications, one in Russian and one in English. The Russian one was kept, and I was handed back the English one with a sticky note that I could pick up my visa on Friday after six in the evening. I walked out of the office surprised that my visa would be ready in only five days.
The next week included numerous invitations for supper. Supper in Georgian means a feast. So for tourists, it is important you know that giving time between these invitations is wise. The liver will need at least forty-eight hours of healing. My liver is an Olympic superstar, so I did three of these in a row. Max made a great traditional dinner at his home and brought me home safe and sound. Nodar took me out to a great traditional restaurant and then escorted me back to Mais Guest house. Shalva, Bekka, David, and Zura organized a couple of dinner deliveries to the club, and thankfully the club is a close stumble home. Public Service Notice for Canadians. Georgians may think you can keep up with them when it comes to consumption of Wine and Brandy as a result of my poor judgments. To paraphrase Riddick; “Do not step up if you can’t keep up because you’ll just die.”
I went back to the Embassy on Friday only to find out it was closed.
I picked up my visa on Monday and booked my return trip to Anapa Russia. Short notice bookings are never cheap, but I was glad I had not booked it ahead of time. The return trip saw Max and his Wife stepping up again and taking me to the airport at one in the morning. Flights from Tbilisi are less than great for connecting to anyplace other than Turkey. So Anapa saw me arrive with zero sleep in twenty-six hours. Home in my bed saw me doing a “just to be safe” two-week detox program. Not that I needed to, or have a problem, but kind of like doing your oil change early because you’ve been doing some hard driving.
Today I got to it. The need to do box is at this moment ticked with the proper Government issued pen. The want to do but can’t is still on hold. The center does, after all, hold what the rest can’t.
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