Georgia on My Mind.
was walking down a side street yesterday in central Lima when I
spotted, of all things, a small cardboard display on a table at a shop
front for souvenirs, one thing I never would have thought to see
anywhere on earth, having looked, actually, in many places for many
years. I saw, among other things, a flag patch of the Republic of
Georgia. I was laughing. I bought two for a dollar or so. I asked the
girl at the shop if she had FYROM, Jugoslavia, which she had never heard
of. She knew nothing, unsurprisingly, of Georgia. She was happy, and I
was ecstatic. Later in the evening I sewed on patch onto the crown of my
new black baseball cap. I pricked myself a few times. Who would think I
would find a patch of Georgia in Peru? WOW!
This morning I woke and went to the rooftop to make coffee on a
hotplate there, and as I was boiling water I was joined by a Japanese
lad who saw my cap and asked if I'm from Georgia. I said no, I'm from
America, and then, to my surprise, he said he had been in Georgia last
year. We talked about Georgia for an hour while I had coffee in Peru.
This is pretty strange, or else I am way out of the loop in the lost
decade of being settled down sort of. Ten or so years ago Georgia was a
mountainous wilderness few people would venture to from fear, rightly
felt, of being killed if not robbed on top of it by bandits. And it was
difficult to get visa. But how things must change in this rapidly
expanding Modernity. All morning I had Georgia on my mind, and part of
the reason I find this so utter amusing is that in packing for this
journey around the world, if I should last, I tossed, without thinking, a
map of Georgia into my pack where it has settled to the bottom to be
useless for a long time. I don't know what I was thinking when I threw
it in there. I don't think I could be farther away from Georgia if I
tried. And to meet, a matter of hours after having found a patch, a
young man who had been there recently was some kind of wonder to me.
I left my hotel and went to buy a few supplied, mangoes and bread
and such, and as I was crossing the plaza to the supermarket down the
road an old man chatted me up in English. I decided that even though he
was a street hustler I needed some time away from speaking Spanish, if
only for a few minutes. He told me he has a school for orphans up the
north of the country, which he eventually asked me to donate to, and
which I politely declined, saying that I am working my way to an
orphanage in South Sudan and need all my money to get there. The strange
thing is that when he approached my and spoke English he asked if I am
from Russia. He then chatted about Georgia, obviously something he
picked up as a way to hit on tourists, street hustlers like him and
Obama having a sack full of sly come-ones for any occasion. I had at
that point spoken to four or five people in the day, and two of then
spoke to me about Georgia.
To end this story on a note I think is amusing, I was coming out of
the store when I bumped into an English couple in their early 30s, and I
said excuse me (con permiso). The guy looked at my cap and whispered to his companion loudly enough
for me to hear, "Bloody yanks."
Now, anyone who knows anything knows that I can pass easily for a Georgian. Why? Because my front teeth are gold.
It's an appropriate joke here: How do you know your child is Georgian?
His first tooth is gold.