A Picnic With a Bunch of Rowdy Church-Goers

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.”

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The way up and then down from Omalo was nowhere near as bad as we had feared, though mountain biking down the steep slopes that made up the road made us really wonder how we had ever gotten up in the first place. We ended up setting up our tent at the same lovely picnic spot we had visited the week before when we had been invited to eat with a family picnicking nearby. This time we decided to make our own fire and cook some potatoes, veggies, and cheap hotdogs for dinner though our idea was short lived since halfway through we were invited to join the roaring party at the picnic table of rowdy drunk church-goers.

We sat down (me on the girls side, Kevin with the guys) next to the young twenty-year old girl who spoke English and quickly became our translator. Across from us was the priest who wasted no time in asking us our religion. I found it slightly ironic that these people, completely drunk and stumbling around, were making toasts to God and to their church since I have yet to see what benefits God sees in alcohol.

Once again the Georgian wine culture posed an issue for Kevin and I because they simply can’t understand why we don’t want to take giant shots of wine all night. The girl next to me explained (and this is not the first time I have heard this) that she didn’t even want to drink but was being forced to by her parents and their friends. It’s even worst for Kevin in this respect because you aren’t considered “a man” if you can’t keep up with their drinking, though fortunately Kevin is smart enough to know that drinking is definitely not the key to life or fame. It’s even harder for us as cyclists because neither of us want to be hung over in the morning when we commence our kilometers, and though a glass or two would be fine, it’s sort of an all or nothing game here.

The group of older ladies at the end of the table were laughing and playing jokes on each other (like breaking each other’s bras by pulling on them) while the men were making various toasts (led by the priest) to everything from children, to religion, to wine. It was an interesting scene which encompassed most of what we have seen in Georgia so far – extremely friendly, happy, and hospitable people, wonderful food, and a little too much wine.

7 thoughts on “A Picnic With a Bunch of Rowdy Church-Goers

  1. I was a guest of honour at the head table at a feast in a country that shall remain nameless. The host dared me to a drinking contest. He said he would drink me under the table. The women at the feast – who were nationals of that country – gasped in horror at his dare. I told him I would change the contest and eat him under the table – which I did. All the nationals, except the host – cheered me loudly at my success. He had consumed too much alcohol to eat.

    My experience is that people in countries that have been communist – and not necessarily just the former Soviet Republics, but also countries in Asia – drink way too much.

      • Hi! I only just recently stumbled upon your blog and I’m so glad I did! I love to travel as well and reading about all those amazing adventures makes me wanna just pack my backpack and go asap πŸ™‚
        Anyway, it’s very true that the Balkan people like to drink (too much), especially spirits. It’s very normal and culturally acceptable (if not expected, as you already noticed in Georgia) to drink until you can’t walk straight. But please don’t be worried because yeah they’ll offer and ask why you don’t want to drink several times, but they’ll accept you nonetheless πŸ™‚

        Anyway, I’m from Slovenia and if you happen to visit our tiny but diverse country (something tells me you’d enjoy the Triglav lakes valley), you’re most welcome! No worries, we’re not that crazy about alcohol! πŸ™‚

        Safe travels and have fun!

      • Haha great! Yeah so far everyone has still been great to us after we refuse their drinks, we are just always afraid about being rude! And yes, we do plan on coming through the area! It will be another few months through till we make it.

  2. Drinkers seem to be the same the world over. They always want you to drink with them even when you don’t like it. Excessive use of alcohol is gross and unhealthy. I applaud your good judgement at such a young age. When they try to force it on you just smile and say, “Sorry, but I’m in The Program.” That usually shuts them up, at least where AA is known πŸ™‚

  3. Although I do drink and enjoy it – rarely excessively – I live in Brazil and to stop drinking when you think you had enough is *almost* unaccepted here too. If you don’t want to go with the AA excuse, one that usually works well for me is saying I’m taking antibiotics and the doctor asked me not to consume alcohol.

    By the way, I think this is the first time I’ve commented your blog, but I’ve been reading it for quite some time and it’s wonderful and moving!

    Travelling in the way you guys are changes you forever. Enjoy it immensely, as much as possible πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! That’s a good one. I was also going to try a sort of I’m allergic type of response but the medication one is great. Of course, now I need to figure out a way to convey this to a group of drunk Georgians who don’t speak English πŸ™‚

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