December started off in a normal way. In Batumi the weather was mild during the days but chilly at night. As expected we have had our share of rain up to this time and the roads from our house to the highway became lakes making it difficult to walk. Umbrellas are our constant companion.
The beginning of December also signifies the passing of another year of marriage bliss as Suzanne and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary. We took the opportunity to book a room at the Radisson Hotel in Batumi where the service was really great. Not only did we get a room upgrade but the hotel also sent us a bottle of wine, a basket of fruit and a small cake. When I booked the room I did mention several times it was our anniversary but I did not expect this. So for the next 24 hours we enjoyed the comfort of the hotel, I had a swim and a massage while Suzanne enjoyed relaxing in a tub and reading a book.
Well that was the nice part of the month. We returned to our house in the village on Sunday evening just before dinner. After putting our things away and starting the heater in our room we went down to talk with our host family and have dinner. Here is where all the fun began. When we retuned home it was raining but the temperature was falling. By the time dinner started the rain had turned to snow and then to ice. This isn’t unusual for Batumi but it was the first time we experienced it. Well the storm, blowing in from the Black Sea, had very gusty winds and extended deep into the country. Dinner was almost over when we lost electricity. Everything went dark and out came the candles. While we do have power outages in Georgia, usually it only lasts for a couple of hours. We soon learned that this was a major storm and many power lines were down. It would be 7 and a half days before electricity was restored.
What to do? Without power our room would become an icebox making it difficult to do anything during the day and a challenge for sleeping at night. We found ourselves spending a lot of time in the petchi room with the rest of the household and when it came time to sleep we had to put on several layers of clothes before getting under the covers. The experiences here in Georgia just keep coming.
The power outage also affected my work as without power the office remained closed. Suzanne’s school also shut down for the week. This would have been a fun time if it wasn’t for the snow and cold. Travel for the first few days was all but impossible. As we received word that power was being restored to parts of Batumi, we finally ventured out to the highway to see if we could catch a ride into the city. We needed to find someplace where we could charge our phones and computers as their batteries were fading fast. McDonalds to the rescue, this was the one place where there was heat and power. I had to buy an extension cord so that I could share an outlet with others, but after three hours we had good charges on our equipment and were able to head back home.
December 14th was the date for the NESC, National English Spelling Competition. Suzanne is the regional coordinator and the games must go on. This did pose a problem as many of the kids who qualified for the regional round live in the highlands of Ajara and the heavy snow, up to 2 meters, would prevent many of them from participating. We hope something will be arranged for them to have a chance to go to the national round in March.
Since the competition was on a Saturday and we were still without power, we decided to once again visit the Radisson Hotel to assure ourselves of being on time at the competition site. Of the many good things I could say about the hotel one of the best is their generous late checkout times. We were able to keep our things at the hotel until 5 PM which made it easier for use to go to the competition and return before heading back to the house. We learned later in the day that power was finally restored but could be intermittent.
The rest of the month, up to December 19th, was rather normal if not cold. We were counting the days as on the 20th we were leaving for vacation to the warm climate of Costa Rica and our grandkids. More on this in the next posting. For now, enjoy the following album containing pictures of all these happenings.
The petchi room.
All bundled up for sleep.
Butumi in the snow.
Spelling competition winners.
Freshly picked mandarins.