Living on a Knife Edge

Living On the Edge

    I am pretty agitated today, on the one side happy and looking forward to my new life in Georgia, on the other, extremely frustrated and really growing impatient with GMT (Georgian Maybe Time).

    I love my host family, and I really have nothing to complain about compared to millions of people around the world, but I am also in need of my own space if I am to stay in Georgia. I am tired of living out of a suitcase, of not having my own kitchen, of not being able to leave things lying around if I want to. Our cleaner is a lovely lady, but she is too efficient. (How crazy does that sound! I am irritable because the cleaner is too clean…I am such a spilt brat!!). But, she is so efficient, that I keep finding myself frustrated!! To hunt for things (which takes up valuable time, especially when running late already because you overslept in your lovely clean and ironed sheets and cosy bed) and to have things tidied away when you have literally just got up to go to the toilet. I am fed up of random Georgians, strangers, and taxi drivers telling me that I need to find a Georgian husband, that I should get married, that I need people around me to be happy, and I hate sharing all the time. I want to do what I want and to be selfish, as I have grown up accustomed to.

    I have always preferred my own company, and I love my own space. I love silence, I like having to ask no one for permission, I like to do what I want to do, when I want to do them. In effect, I am not completely opposite to everything I love about Georgians! I have never needed other people to make me happy or to feel fulfilled in life, and I am actually happiest when I am on my own, with no one to disappoint me, and with no one to let me down all the time. I hate to depend on others for things, and that is why I am agitated with Georgia right now. Nothing is within my control, and I am beholden to the impulses and spontaneity of Georgia, and I hate that this makes me annoyed, because it is also completely ridiculous! Somedays, I just can shirk off my culture and upbringing. I guess its like being an addict in rehab, you can fit the box for so long, then you just have days where you slip back into the old habits! I am living life a little like Father Jack right now, in my bad language, irritability, and trying to fit into a society so different from my own! But, at least I still have my British humour to get me through!

    Pretty much feel like Jack when it comes to learning the Georgian language too!!!

    I was supposed to move into an apartment four days ago, but the lady has disappeared and I am dependent on others to sort this out. They keep reassuring me that it is nothing to worry about, but I can’t help but feel that everything is about to go tits up. Its completely scuppered my plans, not just for my new flat mate, who is now over staying his welcome, having been kicked out of the host family, but also the people I said could stay the night before they leave Georgia forever. I want to be in the new place and settled before I bring my pets here. I want to unpack my suitcase, so that I can take it away with me. I want friends to leave their belongings here so they don’t have to carry everything back home for summer, and I need space to organise myself and make my plans. Its an incredibly busy time, and I need to have space to breathe right now.

    If the apartment doesn’t happen, then I am screwed! I will be bringing my pets here with nowhere to live, and its going to be really hard to find a new apartment now, with just two days notice. I‘m anxious.

    Then there is the matter of finance. I should be financially stable right now, but I am no better than I was before I took on all the extra work. I don’t have enough money for the deposit on the apartment, nor the rent, and I have no idea how to fund my trip to Latvia and to make life for myself here. Why?? Because I have been let down by Georgian people, who failed to pay me for work that I did on good faith. I made the mistake of trusting them. Something I would never do in my own country. And Georgian students are very good at cancelling at the last minute, and wasting your time. I have definitely learnt that lesson the hard way, and changes will need to be made if I am to stay here.

    To make matters worse, I invested so much time and energy into teaching them English, three or four hours a day, every day, that I failed to focus on the other work in my life that was stable and would be a longer term investment, and I turned down other students to make time for them. Not only did they not pay me what they owed me, but they then had the cheek to tell me that my lessons were too expensive, after they had used my services for four or five weeks, and having known the price at the start! Thus leaving me in a really difficult situation now, where my future in Georgia really hangs in the balance.

    I still have no contract with the Ministry, but will hopefully sign it in a few days, if I decide to stay in Georgia. But they have informed me that I won’t be entitled to holiday, and will be deducting salary for the time that I am away collecting my dog. The knock on effect being that I won’t be able to pay next month’s rent, and won’t be able to put the money into my school project as planned. Not the best start to a new contract, to be frank! And I feel pretty let down on the whole.

    The confirmation of my flight was very late coming, and so its been a real rush trying to book my pets onto the flight. In the meantime, Air Baltic have changed their regulations regarding pets. So, now only two pets are allowed on one plane, and I have three pets, and it depends whether other pets are already booked on the flight. Pets are no longer allowed to travel in one crate together, so now, I have to purchase two new crates. After some discussion in Georgian, it seems that they will now allow two pets to travel in the hold, and one pet will travel as my hand baggage and stay under my seat. I am hoping that this will be my dog, as my cats will be incredibly stressed and vocal, and I don’t fancy carrying the crate around Riga airport for 13 hours whilst I wait for the second flight from Riga to Tbilisi. Then there is the issue of toileting said pet! My poor dog, will have to be at the airport two hours prior to departure, at 06.30am, which means leaving home at 05.00am, a 45 minute flight to Riga. Then 13 hours at the airport, before approximately two hours of flight to Tbilisi (plus time differences), and then who knows what beaurocracy we will have to go through, before my pets are allowed out of their boxes for a pee!

    Then I have to find 50euros per pet, which means trying to get hold of my friend in the UK, who has luckily managed to sell the last of my scuba diving kit, and who will pay for the online booking for the pets, once the Air Baltic Representative has called Latvia and asked the cargo guys to send it to me, so I can email it to her. Then I have to figure out how to purchase the IATA approved crates of the correct size and dimensions in order to hold the pets.

    I have tried every means possible to find out about the regulations for bringing pets to Georgia, but still no luck as yet. The British Embassy found me one website, from a company in America who sell passports for all countries for $9 each plus postage and packaging. Which wasn’t particularly helpful, but did mention that animals could be put to sleep (killed, for the non Brits), if the owner was found not to have sufficient funds to meet the legislations upon arrival…..but I still don’t know what they are! I have even contacted the American Embassy, as I know some of the staff there have shipped pets from America to Georgia, and I have contacted the Minister for Refugees because I know he has a dog!!!!! I am getting very desperate indeed, and the horror stories I have been reading about online are not helping my stress levels!

    So, clutching at straws, I decided to go to the pet shop near my house, and luckily the owner phoned her friend who supposedly spoke English (but didn’t, and in traditional non understanding Georgian style, just hung up!), and then asked the lady from a nearby shop, to come and speak to me. They didn’t have the crate I need to buy, nor did I have enough money (as I had feared), but she told me via her friend that I didn’t need to do anything to bring my pets to Georgia, it was only a problem for leaving Georgia. That I wouldn’t have to pay any money, nor special documentation. I would only have to do something in Latvia. I also went to the local vets, who said the same thing, so I hope they are both right! I am getting to the stage where, I think it will be a case of flying them to Georgia, and praying that they don’t get sent back to Latvia, or killed because I don’t have sufficient funds. They all have UK pet passports and up to date vaccinations, but whether it will be enough, I have no idea. Its all pretty stressful either way.

    But hopefully, after some asking around, I might be able to borrow one crate now. From my friend in Riga who will be going to a dog show this weekend, and can give the crate to another friend who lives in the nearest town to mine in Latvia. So, we just need to arrange to go and collect it, then I can ship it back to Riga from Georgia. So, that means I only need to find one more crate now…and there is still time!

    I feel pretty tough right now, and that I have to focus on myself as I don’t have the emotional energy to invest in another person right now. Probably why I am finding Georgian people incredibly frustrating. No one is able to help me with my issues in Georgia, and I need to have the time and energy and space to focus on what I need to do to make things possible. My future in Georgia hangs in the balance. I need to make things happen in order to move my life here, and if that doesn’t happen this week, then it’s the end of my time in Georgia. If I cannot get my pets here and get the apartment and finance sorted, then it’s the end of the road. I can’t live on empty promises and maybe time any more, as lovely as it is sometimes. I need all the stops to be pulled out right now. And I am realising that to survive in Georgia, and to remain emotionally intact, I need to go this road alone, because you can’t rely on anyone, no matter where you are in the world.

    I feel like a shit friend right now. My volunteer friends who were planning to come back to Georgia in September, have been really messed around by Georgian people (Ministry) too, and I don’t have the power to help them out at the moment. Their issues are also fairly simple, they need flights sorting, and contracts, and they need to know that they are coming back to something, that they giving up life in England for something better, that will give them purpose. They also have time and financial constraints, and are also getting grief from people who are relying on them for information, and who think they are stupid for even considering coming back. It will be awful to lose them, and to know that they are not coming back to Georgia, but equally I don’t blame them. I want to help them, and I am sure there is something I can do. But I just don’t have the energy right now, as I need to focus on my own challenges, and I can’t get involved in their emotions and difficulties, as I am already going through the same things. At the end of the day, we are still foreigners here, and the Georgians we have grown to know and love, are not turning out to be all that they promised. Its like, they take what they want and throw you out when you are done. I am not talking about my host family here, they are the exception. My family are very different, and they really have pulled out all the stops for me, which is why I feel bad when I am having issues, as I also want to be able to help them with their issues. I also don’t mean to cause offence to any Georgians, but sometimes life here is incredibly frustrating as a foreigner who is used to things being done in a very different (and more efficient or punctual) way. I am trying to remain calm and to go with the flow, and to listen to people telling me not to worry. But, this is a big step right now, and I am definitely finding out who my closest and most dependable friends are. Emotions are running high, and it’s a case of just getting my head down and ploughing through things, as time is of the essence. Some of my friendships are blossoming through the current stress, but other friendships are waning as I realise that it is mostly one way, and that is tough, having put myself on the line, and opened up more than I would normally have done. But I know it’s a sensitive time right now, and I hope I will feel differently in a few weeks when things will all be settled a bit. I don’t really have time to blog at the moment, but I am actually finding it helps me to keep focused and to keep on track, so consider yourselves my new psychiatrists or guardians or whatever!! Its going to be a tough job for you, but I hope there will be as many positives as there are low points. It is not necessarily a low point right now, just a phase or stress and big commitments!

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About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
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