23 May 2011

A low-budget trip through Turkey

The financial income of a volunteer does not allow big expenses. Luckily, there are ways of cheap travelling – nowadays supported by internet communities such as the couchsurfing network.
Our trip from the Turkish border at a glance

Göreme cave city

Göreme cave city
Our trip starts in Tbilisi, where we catch the incredibly cheap night train to Batumi (5 GEL for more or less 300 km). If you think that the night train is uncomfortable and boring, then you are wrong. Uncomfortable – yes, especially if you are as tall as Villi. Boring – no f***ing way! We met some very nice Georgian people in the train and some of them were carrying 60 liters of home-made wine with them – which they wanted to share with us with pleasure. By the time we arrived in Batumi, I saw everything double, and the breakfast on the seaside was... lets say... interesting. We took a bus to the Turkish border and started hitch-hiking in pairs. We discovered that hitch-hiking in Turkey is very easy, mostly we caught a car or truck in no-time, and most of the drivers were very nice people.
Our trip has 2 big targets: Ötkür's place and Cappadocia. Ötkür is one incredible couchsurfer who hosted Irena while he was not at home and who was hosted by Irena while she was not at home. But on this historical day, they finally should meet.
Still Göreme, now there is one rock missing ^^
Castle of Uçisar (the rock on the right); on the left you see a typical "fairy chemney"

Villi and me are joining Ötkür and his friends to an Inna concert in Trabzon, and eventhough the performance of this singer was quite poor (she was on stage only for half an hour), we had much fun, which might be related to one bottle of Gomi we had earlier that evening. Inna was wearing only Kupalniki, and so her performance was more like a photo shooting than a concert. But I have to say that she is a real professional act, as she can improvise the lyrics (“fly like you do it like you're high like you DON'T TOUCH MY ASS!! like a woman”).
The next day on the road, we are hitch-hiking together with one friend we met in Trabzon to Samsun. There, we are hosted by some couchsurfers who are doing Erasmus in Samsun. They remind us very strong our own EVS family and they are very hospital. But the next morning already we are leaving and hitch-hiking to Nevshehir, the capital of the Cappadocia region. We stay there three nights and visit the nearby cave cities Göreme, Ürgüp, the castle of Uçisar and the underground city of Kaymakli. The region is just gorgeous, and none of us has ever seen something similar.
Ori hitch-hiking

After Cappodocia, the next stop is Sivas, a bigger city with a long shopping mile but as well a historic center. We are hosted by a young Turkish couple, and we have very nice talks with them about the political situation in Turkey.
The next day we hitch-hike on a mountain track to Trabzon and, after another stay at Ötkür's place, to the Georgian border. In Batumi, it seems impossible to catch a car to Tbilisi. When finally there are some guys who are ready to take us to the capital if we share the fuel, we agree. Big mistake. The track leads over some mountains and there are many trucks on the road. Our drivers seem in a rush and they pass some trucks in very risky places. In the end, we had three almost-accidents, which could have taken a bad end I guess.
Who is saying hitch-hiking is dangerous? The first ride we payed for on our trip (except for the night train of course) was the most dangerous ever! We were really glad when we got off that car, I tell you!


Getting away from Rustavi

After some weeks at home, we totally had to get away from Rustavi. That's why we decided to go for a camp in the forest near the cemetary in Tbilisi. At 11 o'clock, we met in front of the city hall and waited with Illo and Awto for the rented marshrutka.
In the early afternoon, we reached the place, tired of carrying the heavy tents and other camp stuff up the hill. The fact that is was raining quite a lot didn't make it more easy to build the tents. And as if somebody was making fun of us, it stopped raining as soon as we finished the work.
But nevertheless, our mood stayed good and we started to chill and have a small supra with Nikka's good home-made wine and some Georgian food. As a dessert, we smoked some tasty shisha.
Full and happy, we moved to the fire place and drank some of Awto's gorgeous self-made cognac.
For me, this was the time for a nap, and I was on stand-by for some hours. When I woke up again, we made shashlik followed by another nap. The next time I woke up, it was already quite late and we spent a nice evening together around the fire with many jokes and a great atmosphere.

The next morning, after a so-so night outside, I wake up next to Villi, and Nikka is joining us to prepare breakfast consisting of delicious Thai-noodles from the package. Ori, who couldn't succeed in gathering our interest in her feelings the other night, didn't know if she should be angry at us or not. She decided that there was no point and tried to re-gain Cristy as a friend, which ended up Ori chasing Cristy through the forest.
We spent the day chilling in the forest and eating the rest of our food. In the evening, the marshrutka came to pick us up.
All in all it was a short but sweet camp, and most of us would have liked to stay longer.


16 May 2011

European Youth Parlement - Rustavi 1st regional session

This first regional session was held on the 7-9th may week-end. 
I was glad to be a part of it as the only 'european union child' !
So what is this exactly? 

EYP sessions, whether they are regional or national, are runned in every european country (and not only european union as you can see).
The main goal is to have a 'get together' of young, interested, motivated and very active people, to think and produce a resolution (enounced problems with solutions) about one given topic (related to georgia and europe as we were in regional session) - so that we can increase our knowledge, understanding and activeness (if that is even a word?), and make new friends of course.
We had a lot of non formal games (even just games) to increase our team-building and sense of competition. And in the end, we didn't sleep much but we had the best time.
All of it, was of course going on in english. Lucky for me, we went to Rustaveli cinema for a one hour movie (georgian/russian) and also the closing ceremony (the most formal part of it all) was in georgian language.

I got myself included in the DEVE (for development) committee, thinking and discussing very actively about the following given topic : 
How can Georgian youth be encouraged to increase opportunities for civic activism among other youth in their respective communities and especially in regions? What kind of experience should we share from developed European Societies about youth involvement in civil society and regional development?

The DEVE committee was composed of girls only, aged 14-22 (errr, that's me again!). I am also glad to announce that we did a very good job, having our resolution passed with the most 'in favor' votes.
As for me, I got to learn a lot as well about georgian youth (which is kind of essential when you are a volunteer in an organisation called "georgian youth for europe" ;-) ). 
The most interesting part was to my opinion, that we would freely share our opinions, but always in a respectful environment. Some things I didn't understand how it works exactly, during the general assembly for example, and the thing I regret a little is that our resolution will just stay as it is now. Maybe I should have a look over, see if we can make some things happen for real!

They say that after one session you become more or less heavily addicted. I sure did!

Written by Mary. Pics by Sophie.