Sexism: a traveler’s story

So a lot of you are aware that I moved into a house in Tbilisi. There have been good and bad parts to it. One of the things I have learned is just how pervasive sexism is. It’s like a fucking epidemic! Let the story time begin….

My new landlord is an Israeli woman. Apparently, she owns several homes in different countries. She’ll buy them cheaply, fix them up, and rent them out. I can respect that. It’s actually something I considered doing for a while as a way to make a little extra cash.

We were conversing in the yard about future improvements, and related topics when she said something I didn’t expect. She said we should find a woman to live here so she could cook and clean for us. What? She doesn’t do that. She’s a business woman that runs around different countries managing her business. So why would she think…. Moving along….

The maintenance/foreman guy will often bring Georgians through the house to show them what he’d like them to do. It seems they always come when I’m preparing or eating dinner. If I believed in an intelligent universe, I would think it was trying to tell me something…. Anyway, I’ve run into the same sexist attitude on two of these occasions.

One of the guys saw me eating (I’d made a delicious pasta thing, and was eating it out of the pan, because why dirty a plate?), and decided to have a brief conversation with me. He said I should find a woman to cook for me. Then he went on about how they were also good for having sex with. He finished it all off with the thought that he liked to ‘fuck before eat[ing]’, because he got tired after meals.

I was too stunned to do anything except nod, and wave at him as he left the kitchen heading for the yard. However, now that I’ve had some time to prepare, I’d like to challenge these ideas that we’ve managed to (mostly) eliminate in the west. I want to tell these people that it’s possible to get so much more from a good life partner than sex and domestic chores. You can actually speak with them, and maybe even learn something from their ideas. You can have…you know…an actual relationship!

And maybe then, I could move on to the point that it doesn’t have to always be the woman that cooks, cleans, and generally minds the house. I’m no chef, but I’ve made some pretty tasty concoctions in my time. And I actually enjoyed it!

If someone doesn’t like my cooking, that’s a fair point, and they should absolutely make their case. However, bringing women into the argument is like telling me while playing basketball that they have a black friend who I should meet. Is said black person good at basketball? Maybe. Or maybe he trips over the ball when he tries to dribble. And what does he have to do with my ability to play?

Have any of these people even considered that I might actually enjoy preparing my own meals? Or are they too hung up on the notion that men shouldn’t cook; that it’s not their job? Maybe that’s a better approach. Instead of being all triggered, and grilling them about how backward their views are, maybe I should ask them why they feel the need to bring this up in the first place.

Well, this took an unexpected turn….

How about you on the other side of the screen. Yes you, the one who’s reading this article. Have you run into people like the ones I’m describing? Did you try to talk to them, and figure out what’s going on? Did you get all foamy at the mouth and scream at them about how sexist they are?

This has been real talk with Porcupous. Tune in next time for…. Just kidding. I may or may not follow up on this. Either way though, I’d definitely like to hear from you.

Financial Friday 24

Location: Tbilisi [Republic of Georgia]

Another week has passed already. It seems so short, and yet so long. But here we go….

Transportation

On Friday, a friend and I went to a restaurant across town to watch a world cup game. He didn’t feel like walking and called a cab. 10 minutes and a lot of him speaking to us in Russian (which neither of us understand), we arrived for the price of $1.15. Not bad; not bad at all.

Accommodation

So this is easy. Rent for this month comes out to $5.48 per day. It’s even paid in US Dollars so I don’t even have to convert it.

Food

Have I mentioned food here is cheap? It’s especially so since most days I’ve run down to a grocery store, and that’s constituted my ‘food’ spending for the day. On a related note, I’ve gotten a lot better at making oatmeal (porridge for UK types) taste good; learned how to not hard boil eggs; and have come up with the most delicious summer salad recipe ever invented. The produce here is so cheap, and mostly grown in people’s back yards or on real farms. I must eat all of it!

Other

Way too expensive travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

This no WiFi thing is not fun at all. I had to top up my data on: Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. One of the days, my computer gobbled up 500MB downloading an update…arg! Blogger problems….

On Monday, I bought a pair of flip-flops: $4.11. The ones I’ve been using as shower shoes are getting pretty beat up, and I didn’t want to continue contributing to their wear and tear. Plus, they’re cheap.

Summary

Week 24
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 1.15 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.15
Lodging 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 39.69
Food 6.57 10.35 4.11 5.59 6.16 1.05 2.71 36.54
Other 23.64 23.64 8.64 12.75 23.64 23.64 8.64 124.59
Total 37.03 39.66 18.42 24.01 35.47 30.36 17.02 201.97

So, not quite as much as last week’s spending. It will go a lot lower when WiFi gets hooked up though. I could be saving so much money.

Until next week….

Financial Friday 23

Week 23 has come and gone, and it was quite eventful…or at least for me. So here comes the explaining.

Transportation

These are just getting around town expenses. Basically, whenever I’m tired of walking, I’ll hop on the metro. I did this once on Monday and twice on Wednesday. $0.20 per trip is far more affordable than anything in the US.

Accommodation

Friday and Saturday were at a hostel. I spent most of those days inside hiding from the heat. Did I mention it’s hit 40C (104F for my US readers) every day this week since Monday?

On Sunday, I moved into a house. You can read my previous blog post to see how that’s been going. Rent is $170 per month which comes out to $5.67 per day for this month (with it’s 31 days). I also payed a $170 security deposit. I didn’t include that as I figured it was a loan that I’d get back when I move out. If anyone else feels like including that, feel free. You know, in those little spreadsheets you keep of my expenses…. Oh wait, I’m the only one that does that.

Food

I spent Friday and Saturday finishing off the groceries I’d bought in previous trips. There isn’t any room for food in my backpack so anything I didn’t eat, was left at the hostel in the free food area. I love the free food area….

The rest of the week was a combination of eating out and buying groceries. We just got cookware on Thursday so I did a lot more eating out than I will in the future (I think). If all goes according to plan, my food bill will drop significantly. We’ll see next week.

Other

Far too expensive travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

So the new place doesn’t have WiFi hooked up yet. They claim it’ll be in on the 10th. I really hope it is because I’ve been burning through data. My current plan is meant as a little side data while I travel between WiFi spots; not for keeping me connected with the outside word. I’ve had to add more data on Friday, Monday and Wednesday this week at $25 per instance. Ouch!

On Tuesday, my roommate and I spit the cost of an HDMI cable ($2.87) and a chess set ($8.20). (Those numbers are my half; not the total). The cable we’re using to connect the TV with my computer for movies/television (aka YouTube/Netflix). And we both like chess so…you could call them entertainment expenses.

On Wednesday, I went to see a movie: $3.69. In the US, it’s hard to find a movie in theaters for under $10 so I think the price here is fantastic! For anyone that follows my Instagram feed, the movie was Sicario: Day of the Soldado. You see? You get even more information about my life if you follow this blog and my Instagram account…. You little voyeurs.

Summary

Week 23
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6
Lodging 6.35 6.35 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 5.67 41.05
Food 0 0 10.08 6.49 6.11 7.8 5.18 35.66
Other 33.64 8.64 8.64 33.64 19.71 35.33 8.64 148.24
Total 39.99 14.99 24.39 46 31.49 49.2 19.49 225.55

So it’s significantly higher than last week which I attribute to the mobile data charges. I really want that WiFi. And this week also wrapped up the month of June so….

Jun 18
Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Total
Travel 4.26 1.03 1.02 2.24 0 8.55
Lodging 70.09 55.96 46.01 44.45 12.7 229.21
Food 41.55 74.77 62.89 24.62 0 203.83
Other 100.07 116.81 60.48 93.58 42.28 413.22
Total 215.97 248.57 170.4 164.89 54.98 854.81

Hello, cheapest month yet! This is one more reason why I love this country so much. Are you a nomad? Looking for a cheap place to stay? Consider Georgia. Your wallet will thank you.

See you all next week for another financial report.

Settling into a house in Georgia

For those that don’t know, I really like Georgia (the country; not the US state). I like it so much, I decided I should stick around for a while, and see what it’s like to live here. One of the people I met at my hostel found someone who was renting rooms in a house. At first glance, it seemed pretty awesome. Renting a room in a house is cheaper than staying a hostel, and I get my own room! But, as with anything like this, there were a few negatives that weren’t immediately obvious (at least to me).

Disclaimer: these are all specific to the house I moved into. Your experience (should you choose to duplicate it) will hopefully vary; especially after reading this post.

So a little more about the place…it’s a decent sized house. There are 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (one of which contains a bath tub and shower), a kitchen/dining room, and even a yard (with trees)! When I came over to look at the place, it was clearly in the process of being renovated with workers constantly going in and out of the place. It was claimed that it would be ready to move into by the 1st of July which was 3-4 days away. The bedrooms came in different shapes and sizes with the larger ones being slightly more expensive than the smaller ones. They all ranged from $150-$200 (US Dollars) per month. I picked one that looked good, and [after a few hours of thinking about it] told the land lord’s proxy I’d take it.

First problem. When I showed up on the first, they were still in the process of renovating. It’s not uncommon even now to have a bunch of workers wandering around the place and improving it. That would normally be a minor annoyance except for problem 2.

When I was scoping the place out, I was told that only one of the rooms had an air conditioner. I thought an air conditioner would be nice, but wasn’t exactly a necessity. I was so wrong; especially when combined with problem 1. When they’re in the house, they open all the windows, and leave the doors open. I get it; they’re constantly moving things in and out, but it doesn’t make for a very pleasant temperature inside.

Also, the last few days have been record-setting in their heat. I’m told the average high for Tbilisi in July is 33C (91.4F), and the record is 40C. Yesterday it hit 43C (109.4F)! And there’s a river that runs through the city so it’s not exactly a dry heat. I do not deal with that kind of weather well.

Fortunately, no one’s moved into the room with air conditioning so my 1 roommate and myself have taken to sleeping in there. We’ve also closed all the windows and set up a system of fans to pull the cool air into the rest of the house. When there aren’t workers running around opening all the windows, it’s actually almost pleasant. I hope no one takes the air conditioned room before the end of summer.

Another problem that wasn’t readily apparent, has to do with the washing machine (for cloths). It’s brand new so that’s nice. However, it wasn’t hooked up properly, and the hose where water drains was sitting on the floor. I was pretty pleased with myself when I figured out how to turn the thing on, and get it started on my roommates cloths. When we got back to the house later, we discovered water all over the floor. We of course, had no idea how to fix the problem so we grabbed a pan out of one of the bathrooms, and placed it under the hose.

Then, we spent the next 4 hours monitoring it, and emptying the pan when it got full. Why was it taking so long to wash a load of laundry? Neither one of us speaks (let alone reads) Georgian so figuring out why was an impossible task. After said 4 hours, we finally hit the pause button and waited for the machine to unlock the door. The cloths were very clean by then so we just had to hang them, and wait for them to dry.

Except that there are no cloths lines installed, yet. I let my roommate borrow the travel cloths line I had the foresight to purchase before I started my traveling adventure. For once, being a little over prepared turned out to be a good thing.

The stove was hooked up, and there the landlord was kind enough to provide dishes and flatware. So I figured I could do some cooking to save money. I’ve been in Georgia for a month now so I don’t necessarily have to go out every meal to try the Georgian food. Except that there’s no cookware…. Now we’re in a bit of an awkward position. We don’t want to buy cookware since we’re unsure if the landlord will purchase some for us. So for now, we’re sticking to meals that don’t require cooking.

I suppose we could message the landlord and ask her about any of these things, but there’s a whole list of ‘problems’ (I’ve only mentioned what I consider to be the most pressing ones). Additionally, the place is still being fixed up so we’re not sure if these are known issues that will be resolved on their own eventually. We don’t want to be annoying tenants that are constantly pointing out problems either. So yeah…new house problems; they can add up.

Well, I hope this has been somewhat informative. Perhaps if any of you are looking for a place, you’ll have an idea of what to look for and some good questions to ask. Or maybe you’re all veterans of house hunting, and I seem like a complete moron. Frankly, I feel a little dumb right now anyway so….

Talk to you next story….

Financial Friday 22

Location: Tbilisi [Republic of Georgia]

Week 22 was…largely uneventful. Let’s have a look.

Transportation

On Sunday, I went with a few people I met at the hostel, and rode the cable car a couple times. The hill that the ‘mother of Georgia’ statue sits on is a nice place from which to view the city; especially around sunset.

On Monday, I took the metro to explore a different part of the city. I could have walked, but the metro is so cheap. A ride out and a return trip for $0.20? Hell yes.

Accommodation

This gets very simple when you stay in the same spot for a while. I’ve watched a few waves of people stay in, and leave the hostel. If you’re on your own and you want to meet people, hostels are definitely the way to go.

Food

This was particularly cheap this week, because I spent most of the time cooking groceries. You can only have so much khinkali and kachapouri (the main local dishes) before you’re like “screw it, I’ll just get some cheap food to shove in my face”.

Other

Overpriced travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

So there was this concert on Friday that I was going to go see, and meet a few friends at. The only problem is that it’s been pretty hot the last week so I didn’t go during the day. I thought about going in the evening, but I was pretty tired by then and didn’t feel like staying up until 8 to head back ‘home’. So I basically bought a ticket I didn’t use: $12.98. It’s somewhat annoying, but I’m definitely happy with my decision to chill at the hostel. Because being tired and cranky is just not worth saving $13.

On Monday, I did laundry: $1.22. I know, it’s not very exciting.

On Wednesday, I payed for a mobile phone network unlock key: $18.90. Because the carrier I had in Greece thought it was a good idea to lock their shit down. I managed to get away with using a different SIM in Turkey because the carrier has a deal with the one I had in Greece to use their network. When I tried putting a Georgian SIM in though…that wasn’t happening. So, lesson learned: always check when putting strange SIMs in your phone that they don’t lock your shit down. It’s a huge pain in the ass to try and get it unlocked later. (Especially if you’ve left the country from which you got said SIM).

Summary

Week 22
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 2.04 0.2 0 0 0 2.24
Lodging 6.35 6.35 6.35 6.35 6.35 6.35 6.35 44.45
Food 0 1.16 11.57 0 9.8 0 2.09 24.62
Other 21.62 8.64 8.64 9.86 8.64 27.54 8.64 93.58
Total 27.97 16.15 28.6 16.41 24.79 33.89 17.08 164.89

So, it’s been a super cheap (boring) week. I can’t argue with averaging less then $30 a day though. If this keeps up, I’ll be making money rather than breaking even.

Until next week…

Financial Friday 21

Location: Tbilisi [Republic of Georgia]

Week 21….

Transportation

I stayed in the same place all week so the only ‘travel’ cost was taking the cable car on Tuesday. Since we’re on the topic of cable cars…transportation is cheap here. The cable car is 5x the cost of a metro ride if that’s any indication.

Accommodation

I stayed at the same hostel all week. The slight price discrepancy is from currency fluctuation. As I’m sure you can tell, accommodation is also cheap.

Food

This was strangely consistent this week. On Saturday, I bought a bunch of groceries in addition to going out which is why the price is noticeably higher than the other days. Most days usually involve going out once a day, and filling the other meals with groceries.

Other

Way too expansive travel insurance: $8.64 per day.

And…wow, I don’t have anything for other expenses this week. I’m so boring….

Summary

Week 21
Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Total
Travel 0 0 0 0 1.02 0 0 1.02
Lodging 6.53 6.53 6.59 6.59 6.59 6.59 6.59 46.01
Food 7.17 15.72 7.08 8.41 7.77 8.18 6.51 60.84
Other 8.64 8.64 8.64 8.64 8.64 8.64 8.64 60.48
Total 22.34 30.89 22.31 23.64 24.02 23.41 21.74 168.35

All right, so…a boring week makes for a super low expense report (and a really short Financial Friday post). Hopefully, this gives you a general idea of what it costs to settle into Tbilisi. Until next week….

That Kazbek mountain thing

My normal method of travel involves just showing up somewhere and exploring. However, one of the friends I made in თბილისი (Tbilisi) wanted to go on a day trip labeled ‘Kazbegi’. So I decided to be a good little tourist go on a group tour.

The marshrutka (from Russian: маршру́тка; it’s basically a large van or small bus) was supposed to pick us up at 0915. Apparently, traffic was particularly bad that Monday morning, and the tour company employees came out to talk to us around 0930. We then walked down the road a little (this was not in the original plan) and got picked up at an alternate location. I didn’t mind, but there were a few people with luggage because they were flying out after the tour, and one person brought a kid and stroller. It was a little tricky getting their stuff over the few cobblestone sections.

We headed out of the city, and eventually hit the საქართველოს სამხედრო გზა (Georgian Military Road) going north. Traveling on this road is amazing. It winds through the mountains and hits 2,379 meters (7,815 feet) at its highest point. This was also the first time I felt cool in months as I’ve been in ‘warm’ countries.

The first stop did not disappoint from a scenery perspective. We were on the side of a mountain looking down on a lake that looked like it might have been artificial as there was a huge mound of dirt on the lower end of the canyon. There were also a couple shops, a bathroom, and some wool outfits with accompanying sword/gun we could wear in a cheesy attempt to look like a local for Instagram. If I ever make it out there to stay for longer than a day, I’ll be sure to wear an actual outfit for my pictures so…I stick my nose up at you, fake costumes.

 

Small church

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The next stop was at a small church. While I only took pictures of the typical ‘churchy’ things, there were also a lot of defensive structures. The church is surrounded by a wall (that’s now in varying states of functionality), and a tower that’s entrance is a very narrow passage between it and a church wall. No armored (or fat) people are getting through there.

What a shitload of minerals in the water do to a mountain side.

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Then we came to a place that reminded me of Pamukkale, Turkey. This time, the mineral being deposited is orange, and makes the water taste like soda water. There’s no carbonation, it just tastes like it.

This is also around the time we started seeing the tunnels on running parallel to the road on the mountain side. These tunnels are at sections of the road where the uncovered area is closer to the edge. In winter when the roads are covered in snow and ice, these tunnels are vital to ensure vehicles can both make it up the mountains as well as prevent them slipping off, and having a very bad day.

We continued on to the town of სტეფანწმინდა (Stepantsminda). This place is pretty close to the Russian border, and is very touristic. There are a lot of hotels and restaurants. We ducked into one of the latter to place our lunch orders. We were going to continue our tour while they prepared the food.

On the way to, and pictures of Kazbegi, Georgia.

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Then we all jumped into some 4x4s (all terrain vehicles), and went up the dirt roads to…. A church overlooking the town. It’s a very plain church that consists of a lot of rocks, and no real decoration. It doesn’t need any as the view is spectacular: very green mountains, rivers, maybe a couple flocks of sheep, and the town that doesn’t have any structures near the church. It’s pretty isolated, and would take a couple hours to walk up to so I can’t imagine it’s used to hold services. We wandered around for about half an hour taking copious pictures.

When the selfies were done, we went back down to the town for lunch. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but Georgian food is fantastic! A lot of it is vegetarian as well; non-meat eaters rejoice.

After lunch, we started the long trek back. We stopped a couple more times along the way. Once, at the friendship monument which is a large semi-circle wall covered in art, and overlooking more stunning views of mountains, valleys, waterfalls…. The scenery on this trip did not disappoint.

The whole trip (minus lunch) cost me less than $30. That was money well spent even for my cheap ass. I also feel obliged to mention some sections of the road were destroyed which meant a very bumpy ride in some spots. The long winters with all the snow and ice make it nearly impossible to keep the road comfortably traverseable. It definitely took its toll on my old, grumpy self too. By the time we got back to Tbilisi, I was very ready to walk around. Also, if you get carsick easily, this trip is going to be hell for you. I was mostly ok, but I know not everyone will be.

Anyway, I hope this has been helpful and/or entertaining. I know most of my friends in the US would have a hard time placing Georgia on a globe (hell, some of them have a hard time with the US state of Georgia), but this place is so worth visiting. See you guys next post.