An American Werewolf in Martvili*

Last week was Thanksgiving!  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Tragically, all of us Americans are far from home and family here in Georgia and so, to console ourselves, we decided to get together in Martvili to celebrate and feast together on the Saturday immediately preceding Thanksgiving!  (And some of us consoled ourselves by going to Paris and Madrid, I’m looking at you, Cristen!)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, awesome details of a Martvili Thanksgiving I just want to mention that I was sick in the week-tendays prior to the holiday.  My tender host family cured my illness with a mix of home remedies and gentle mocking.  I was treated to the ever-so-delightful hot milk + mineral water concoction (Yes, I will insist on using the world “concoction” despite the notable absence of any sort of tree bark in the mixture) for which my hostmoms had to make a special run to the store for milk.  The following morning I was greeted with some morning tea and this:


It’s some sort of anti-biotic or medicinal pill mixed into a spoonful of honey.  No joke.  Julie Andrews would be proud.  A few days later I had the pleasure of watching Luka make a concoction of his own.  While making tea, he asked me if I wanted “Goguly moguly” (Pronounced “GO-gully, MOE-gully”).  Naturally, I was taken aback and couldn’t help but think of the Jungle Book.  I asked Luka what goguly moguly was and he told me in broken English that it’s some sort of egg white + instant coffee blend.  He said that you just mix the coffee powder with an egg white and drink it.  Maybe you’re supposed to add hot water?  I don’t know.  We didn’t get that far.

Luka pulled some coffee off the shelf.  Despite my protests that it was coffee grounds meant for a coffee machine, he forged ahead and found the electric egg beater.

I don't think this is going to work out like you hope it will....

As Luka mixed it, the egg white frothed and seemed to absorb the coffee grounds.  When he turned off the egg beater and the mixture settled a bit, I noticed the visible presence of coffee grounds floating in the egg.  I pointed them out and Luka said, “No problem, no problem.”  He took a sip.

It probably tasted like raw egg with some crunchy bits. Those were the coffee grounds.

Yup, I was right.  That was the kind of coffee meant for a machine, not instant coffee.  Whoops.  Oh well, some other time, perhaps, I will have the good fortune (?) to try a goguly moguly all my own….  Here’s hoping.

I recovered enough from my sickness, unmade goguly moguly notwithstanding, to attend Martvili Thanksgiving (Or, to quote Pauli who in response to inquiries as to his attendance would always answer, “Do you mean ‘Am I going to America this weekend?’”).  The morning of, I met Rob and Ashley at Vagzlis Moedani metro station in search of a marshrutka.  We found an awesome one that showed movies the whole way to Martvili!  The first movie was a terribly classic Steven Seagal film called Executive Decision.  The second movie was even better!  It was a Tommy Lee Jones vehicle called The Hunted wherein he chases a former protégé throughout Portland, OR and they repeatedly stab at each other with home-made knives.  Luckily for us, we arrived in Martvili at the exact moment of the movie’s climactic payoff.  Hope that didn’t spoil the movie for you!  (Hint: It did.)

We met up with Ian who walked us to his house and then left once more after greeting everyone so that we could go buy some veggies for the chefs!  We bought them and returned post-haste as we were late for the big game!  What big game, do you ask?  Let me answer your question with a question: What game could I possibly be talking about in the context of this most-American-of-holidays?  Football, dummies!

This one's for you, America.

Seeing as a large chunk of us Group 2 TLGers are from foreign countries, it was a learning experience for everyone!  Brits, Canadians, a German and a Malaysian all partook in our American holiday pastime with great enthusiasm and curiosity.  It wasn’t a new experience just for them, either, as many of us Americans had never done more than watch football.  Take me for example.  I enjoy watching the Superbowl and all of the Stanford games I went to last year were a blast.  I submit, by contrast, for the jury’s consideration the following photo:

A born athlete.

Clearly not a champion football player here.  Nonetheless, Pauli and I were raring to go on the front lines.

Pik Quinn and Tall Paul are completely obscured by the awesomeness of Roli-Poli on the field. Only the glory of his hat and Moustache saved Max from a similar fate.

The teams were split based on colorfulness of shirts.  Clearly that placed Pauli and I on the same team, along with Lukas, Tom, Marissa, Ian (Our QB), Yev, Rob, and Tony.  We squared off against the formidable Mostly Grays who consisted of Pik Quinn, Damon, Ashley, Max (Enemy QB), Tall Paul, Rick, some guy named Mike from group three, and these two chuckleheads:

This is Hippy Bill and little Tsotne (?) one of Ian's host brothers. Good thing they were on the same team because they'd be a pretty uneven match-up.

Truth be told, the teams were really evenly matched.  We exchanged touchdowns for the better part of the game though the Mostly Grays started to pull ahead towards the end.

Despite our grim faces, we never gave up!

At first, every play started and ended with debates over which rules we would play by.  As some of us were way bigger than others, Tackle Football was right out.  At the same time, two-hand-touch seemed way too wimpy.  We settled on a policy of “wrap-up” tackles wherein you had to essentially stop your opponent by wrapping them in your arms.  I call it “Hug Football,” it’s far more pleasant and humane.

If you look closely, you can see a "tackle" happening towards the left of the crowd!
Some solid non-action going on in this one. Thanks Joanne!

Ten points to anyone who can spot the football everyone's staring at!

Really Joanne? You couldn't take more action shots?

Even the least fit amongst us kept up momentum all afternoon.  Yeah, it’s probably me I’m referring to.  My choice of attire also didn’t help.  In my defense, I was a bit limited by what clean laundry I had, but really, that’s no excuse for thick brown corduroy pants and an awesome windbreaker.

I'm so ready to rock. And so effing warm.

Pauli had the right idea halfway through the game by hydrating and, more importantly, by getting ready to really rock the football field.

"Get me ready to rock!"
Pauli could sell rat poison to a rat. I feel like there's a better turn of phrase than that....

Who wouldn't love that guy?

Someone had tipped off the press about our festivities and so they showed up with cameras and microphones hoping to film our game and interview some of the players.

There were also probably 25 Georgians sitting on the "bleachers" (some stacked pipes) watching the entirety of the game. American football is rather exotic here!

The sidelines were pretty active as spectators chattered away with each other, took photos, and discovered and protected an adorable kitten!

This is not a kitten, it is, in fact, David!
TLGers showed up from all over Georgia for the big game!
Grady, Joanne, Mike, and Alyssa enjoy the game, though from the looks of it, only Alyssa is actually paying any attention! Still no kittens yet....


Tony was sporting some fine war-paint and a sassy stance.
This cat had been found in the field before the game started and was very eager to be pet by us all!
But not as eager as Marissa was to pet the kitty!
Football and kitties, what more could Marissa want?

The game itself was quite exciting what with the rapid-fire back-and-forth.  As the game reached its final stages, team Mostly Gray was up twoish points, 9-7 in a game to ten.  Team Bright Colors got nervous and huddled up to make a game plan.  We settled on the plan, “Play better and don’t let them score”—one of the more solid football game plans ever conceived.  The plan began as soon as the ball snapped back to Max.  He backpedaled, looking for an open teammate but we had them pretty well covered.  He made a short pass forward only to have the ball intercepted by tall Ian!  (Marissa, I think you’ll agree with me in my estimations of Ian’s height and what advantages that gives him.)  We ran it down for a touchdown only to get another interception almost right away, allowing us to even the score at 9-9.

Ian laying down some smack talk on the opposing quarterback, Max.

A well-contested few plays later resulted in victory for team Bright Colors!  No hard feelings, however, and we all posed for a joint photo with our local mascot, the adorable kitten! [INSERT PHOTO 2655]

We returned to Ian’s house to reunite with the cherished few who had opted out of the football game and stayed home to cook our delicious feast!  (And drink a shit ton of wine, apparently!)  The lovely chefs had prepared several different dishes for us, each one better than the last.  In that vein, I’ll regale you with a tale of the first dish (and by association, the one which all others were better than).

"I want some Chef Boyardee!" "We don't have any." "I want something that's like Chef Boyardee but a little worse!" "Now that I can help you with."

As I helped carry dishes into the marshrutka, I met Marissa and Ian who were lugging a giant vat of pasta to the car.  I tried to step out of the way and let them pass but they told me to get in the front seat before the pasta arrived.  I did and took on the role of Pasta Guardian/Stirrer.  I had to watch the pasta the whole length of the short ride to Ian’s school and adjust the angle of the bowl so as to avoid spilling gallons of hot pasta all over myself.  We dropped off the food in the school’s dance room (? [it had a stage, at any rate]) and headed out to Boom! to buy some more supplies (notably liquor).  Upon returning we took turns toasting what we were giving thanks for.  It was a moment that was pretty touching and humorous at the same time with many light-hearted toasts intermingled with sentimental ones, including a very nice prayer in Brian’s native tongue (He’s a Native American from the Great Plains of Canada).  The party really got started after food and drink had been depleted and the music kicked in.

And of course, what American Thanksgiving would be complete without a burst of Georgian dancing? Especially if it features David, The Happiest Man in the World.

I am not yet at liberty to say why Pauli, Stephanie, and I required a projector at the party, but rest assured, it was epic and you will understand in the near future (I hope!).  I’ll conclude the evening with a heinous photo that will probably generate me a lot of hate mail (Most of it probably coming from Marissa and my self-conscious side.  It’s really a terrible photo).

I already regret posting this.

Also, David the Builder’s school was at this monastery that’s located in Martvili!  Frickin’ Awesome!

That should leave a better taste in your mouth. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

*Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with Werewolves, I was just trying to use this clever narrative hook to snag some of the Twilight fans (The Team Jacob ones, I suppose?) out there and trick them into reading my blog.

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