Back in the US . . . A

Well hey there! It’s been a while, eh? I made it back from Georgia safely and in one piece, and now I’m preparing for my next big departure, this time to the Czech Republic, which happens in three days. Crazy, right? I feel like I’ve only just gotten back.

Mtskheta, the former capital of Georgia

I think I feel that way because it really is true — I only got back just over three weeks ago, and it’s been a real whirlwind of a three weeks — a family reunion to get me over the jetlag, a trip to DC to try to deal with my Czech visa (unsuccessfully, but it’ll all work out), a return to Chicago that really didn’t last long enough, and now, finally, a few days to relax and do nothing but PACK until I jet off again. Am I ready, people ask? Well, no, not on a literal level — I’m going for 11 months, and I have no idea of what I’m bringing . . . besides my hockey stuff. On an emotional level, yes, I am, I’ve been waiting for this ever since I left Prague the first time, but I still haven’t finished appreciating America yet, really.

My 10th grade, some of what I miss most about Georgia

It’s the little things that really hit me — or are they little? We’ve had a huge heat wave lately (as you know, if you’re anywhere east of about Chicago), but I can avoid it with the air conditioning. I have innumerable choices for every meal. I can drive, and count on people to follow the rules of the road, at least most of the time. I don’t have to feel bad about speaking English to waiters, baristas, the people who take my ticket at the movies — I’ve never been so conscious of being a native speaker.

I wonder if the architecture will be so Soviet in the Czech Republic?

I’m ready for it, though. Speaking Czech is honestly one of my favorite things to do. I haven’t found a place that I’ve thought is more beautiful than Prague — even in Georgia. Sorry to all my Georgian friends, but that city won me over the moment I saw it. To each her own, I suppose. And I’ll be there for a month, and then closer to Prague than I was to Tbilisi; it’s only an hour from Liberec, the city where I’ll be living, working, playing hockey, etc. Sounds like a life I’ll enjoy, and I’m so excited to start living it.

I never said I didn't think Georgia was pretty -- Svaneti was almost surreally beautiful.

So now, I again find myself in the process of packing and goodbyes — the third time I’ve done it this year. At least I’ll be in the CR for 11 months! Unless I decide to stay longer . . . we’ll see. I’ve only been talking about going back since I left for the first time in 2008 — and now I am. Maybe I’m repeating that — but it’s all still pretty unbelievable to me. Just like how now I’ve been to Georgia and come back. Did I really do all that I did? Did I really meet all those people, see all those landmarks, take all those marshutka rides? Apparently I did . . . and there are still 5 months left in the year. Crazy, right?

One last shot of Gurjaani, from the bottom of the main drag.

So, onward I go. I’ll get my fill of America tonight with some good baseball and barbeque, and then leaving will seem like nothing. Wish me luck! Going off my recent track record, I’m guessing that my next post will come from Prague.

 

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