Monday, September 29, 2008

Another update..

As many of you may have heard, there was an out break of violence in Bolivia a couple of weeks ago which escalated very quickly and many people were killed and injured. As a result of this violence and the expulsion of the American and Bolivian ambassadors, Peace Corps has been suspended in Bolivia. All of the PCVs have been accounted for and evacuated. Luckily this all occurred before we were there so we did not have to be evacuated again.
But this does put us in a bit of a difficult situation. We were given the option of taking another transfer to another country leaving in the next month or so or we could call it a day and close our service. We have chosen to do the latter. This was a very difficult decision for us to make and we are very disappointed not to have been able to complete our service under such circumstances.
We are very sad for the people of Georgia and the people of Bolivia, that their everyday lives are now ones of such struggle and uncertainty.

Some former Georgian Peace Corps volunteers have put together a non-profit organization to fund raise and gather supplies for the victims of the Georgian/Russian conflict. If you would like to see how you can help please follow the link below.

Again thanks for reading the blog and for all of the support that you all have given us over the last 16 months. We will let you know as soon as possible where we decide to go and what we decide to do with ourselves. For now everything is a little bit up in the air, but I am sure that we will figure it out eventually.

Talk to you soon,

PS I would like to draw your attention to the slideshow in the upper left corner. These pictures are from our "best day in Georgia, ever" which coincidentally occurred just three days before we evacuated Georgia when Russia invaded the country.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Situation Update

As you have seen from our blog title, Martha and I have slowly drifted out of the limbo we have found ourselves in over the last few weeks here in Armenia, and have decided to transfer to Peace Corps Bolivia. This is a result of the hard work of the Bolivia, Georgia, and D.C. staff, and I’d like to thank all of them for making this work.

This is a very exciting but a rather sad time for us, as we feel as though we are leaving behind friends, family, and incomplete projects in Georgia, and do not know when we will be able to return. Though I did attempt to look for work in Tbilisi, to try to help the humanitarian and rebuilding effort that is going on there, I decided that the situation was just not stable enough to risk going back. Perhaps Martha or I will be lucky enough to find ourselves with the opportunity to return to Georgia in the future, but as for now, we had to look elsewhere.

Our previous Country Director, Kathleen Sifer, transferred to Bolivia a few months ago, and reached out to the Peace Corps Georgia family immediately when the situation began, expressing her concern for us and Georgia. Since then, she has opened a few spots in Bolivia for her old group (G7’s), and we gladly accepted to finish out our last year with her in Bolivia. While details remain to be fleshed out, it is looking like Martha will be working as an Integrated Education/Youth Development volunteer, working on a wide range of issues, and I will be working as a Natural Resource/Environmental Education volunteer, focusing on the dramatic environmental deterioration facing Bolivia. We will start in a few weeks time, as soon as we can get our vaccines and visas in D.C.

We will keep you posted on our plans as we get more information, and we will also be posting pictures from the last few months in Georgia, as soon as we get to a more reliable internet connection in the good old USA sometime next week.

Thank you again for all your support and concern for us over the last few weeks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We Are Safe

Just a quick note to tell everyone out there that we (being Peace Corps Volunteers) are well taken care of and are currently in a hotel outside of Yerevan. That, unfortunately, cannot be said for our friends and family back in Georgia. We have not been able to gather the latest news, but we have heard reports that the Russian military are pushing into Georgia from the West. We hope that the violence ends soon, and that - possibly - we may go back to Georgia in the next few weeks, but that is looking increasingly unlikely.

We will keep you updated with the latest information. Thank you for all your emails and your concern for us.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Just some pictures really

Hi All-
Here are some pictures from our trip to Kobuleti in June. We visited James' school (The Kobuleti Tourism School or something like that) and stayed with the school director Dato. It was a very lovely weekend and if you ever need some guides in Georgia I know where to find them. The school was really amazing and the staff was all very nice and they showed us a really good time and then we were shown around the Botanical Gardens in Batumi by one of the schools graduates. All and all it was a very nice weekend.

Julien, Dato, Josh, Me, Kelsey, Jeesun, Travis, Brian and some of the staff from Kobuleti's Tourism School

Julien pretending that he might consider playing basketball (with Dato the school's Director and Irma James' counterpart in the school gym)

Me at the botanical gardens (see previous post) It was quite hot

Water lilies They were accompanied by many frogs

Some Persian graffiti on one of the Giant Bamboo stalks
All Pictures courtesy of James Douglas

Friday, June 27, 2008

One Year in...

Hi All,
I am sitting here in my room on the first Monday after the last day of school wondering what I will do for the summer. Today is not a good start as it 12:30 and I am still in my pajamas, but in my defense it is raining and has been for two days and that only means one thing, mud and lots of it. Mud is one of the true constants in my life in Georgia and since the 16th was our one year anniversary in country I have had a year to truly study mud in all of its variety. Sticky, sticky mud that somehow migrates halfway up my pant leg on the way to school making me look like I have come in from the fields, but making me wonder why I am the only dirty one.
Does everyone else have a magical teleporter that I don't know about? Is there some sort of secret locker room in the school where everyone changes their clothes and shoes and I am left with mud all over my pants and shoes? I think maybe it is just the incredibly slow paced walking that Georgians have taken to creates a negative entropy thereby turning the mud particles to ice and makes it impossible for them, the mud particles, to leap up all over their clothes. Who knows? I am not going to spend a whole blog entry telling you about the different kinds of mud, but let’s just say I am going to avoid going out today as long as possible and I will not be visiting my garden anytime soon. I would like to instead muse on our year in country.
We have had several visitors to Peace Corps Georgia and some new additions lately in the form of the G8s, so I have had the opportunity to tell people about Georgia, but with the intention of not trying to scare them off. I have been honest, but guarded in some of the grittier details, like the toilet situation, and the cold. We want them to make it through the summer.It has also been nice to see Georgia again with a fresh perspective.
Luckily I have also spent some time in the Autonomous Republic of Adjara lately, which is on par I believe with any of the most beautiful places on earth with its turquoise waters and jungle like citrus-grove covered mountains leading into snow covered peaks. Last weekend we went to the Batumi Botanical gardens which is the 2nd largest Botanical garden in the world. It was just amazing to wind our way down toward the sea through paths of all kinds of wonderfully exotic plants including Giant Sequoias and huge Eucalyptus trees. The only section that looked a little worse for wear was the desert section, but they can be excused, because I am pretty sure no desert plant is accustomed to over 4 meters of rain a year. Luckily it was not raining when we were there, but it was humid and hot, but it felt right for the jungle atmosphere.
We plan on going to Batumi again next weekend, to fully kill any sympathy for us as lowly Peace Corps volunteers. It's a rocky beach, does that count as roughing it? And sometimes people have sexual relations on the beach in front of you which can be a bit traumatizing, especially when boys and girls can barely look at each other in other parts of the country, unless it is to hit each other over the head with their notebooks, ahh 3rd-9th grade such lovely children.
On the Terjola front this summer, it is camp, camp, camp. Though there will be no real camping due to security concerns from a certain unnamed organization that we currently are associated with. There will be a lot of English spoken and the coups de grace will be SPACE camp at the end of the summer. SPACE used in the previous sentence is not an acronym, this will be actual space camp minus space exploration of course but with all of the cool things like egg drops and spaghetti bridge building and hopefully a well attended rocket launch that does not create any international security issues. So if anyone out there has any cool space things, like posters, movies or books that they would like to donate to Terjola's space camp please send it to us at the following address:

PCV Katchinoff
110b Burdzgla
Box 66
0194 Tbilisi
Republic of Georgia

Congratulations to Julien on a successful grant written for mapping software. Soon Terjola's region will be well mapped and labeled. Yippee! This will actually help us a lot on future grant writing because we will be able to explain what we want to do and where with a visual representation. Many maps to come I promise. We will get more pictures up soon as well.
Well I think that will be all. Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive us this past year and we only have 14 months left, See you soon (relatively).