I've been stalling on posting photos and writing about Poti, Georgia - I've whimmed and whayed about what I'd like to say and, I'm still drawing a blank. So, I'm going to do what i do best.....wing it. *Mom, you might want to put your ear muffs on - but only because I know that our brains work the exact same way and that we have the same tendency to let our imaginations run wild*
Stepping off the ship in Poti was slightly surreal. I wasn't quite sure if I was getting off - and then suddenly I was getting off the ship in 30 minutes! I was literally racing around my stateroom throwing the rest of my things into bags, scrubbing, dusting, etc. In retrospect, I really should have spent some time reading about Georgia on Wikipedia a bit before my departure.....or at least some type of research as I knew absolutely nothing about Georgia.
There was a tiny little boat waiting for me in the anchorage. Aboard the boat was a port official, a boat operator and his buddy (as I'm sure this was a novelty) and the ships Agent. Only the Agent spoke English. When we hit the pier I was immediately shuffled into the Agents car. (This is always the part of the trip to and from the vessel that weirds me out - there is always this thing in the back of my head that says, 'this is the time they drive away with you and you're never seen again'. Clearly, that is completely unrealistic....nonetheless...)
We stopped first at the Agents office so he could get some paperwork in order and then we headed to the Office of Border Police (Immigration). Driving the short distance between the port, the Agents office, and Immigration was my first real look around. Things were in very rough shape. A lot of the buildings were in shambles. There were a lot of unfinished construction projects. The roads were full of pot holes (if they were paved).
When we arrived at the Immigration office it was completely unmarked. We pulled into a back lot that was mud and full of puddles. The building looked like a vacant apartment building that had become run down. The Agent walked up a back stairway and stepped up to a tiny little window and peeked in - that was when I realized that there were people sitting inside in uniforms. I handed over my passport and waited.
I waited for a bit and was then escorted into another room that was further up the stairway and through the door. There were five Border Officers sitting around a table where a lap top was sitting. They had me sit down and then they closed the door.
My brain immediately went into overdrive. All I could think is, 'what the hell am I going to do if things get really weird, really fast?!' I was thinking: why did they shut the door....what would they do if I asked them to open it....what if I stand up and get closer to the door in case I need to run away. You get the idea. I was flipped. I did my best to act cool. Eventually the guys started to try to talk to me in broken english. Of course, first they wanted to know if I was single - then they wanted to try to set me up with their sons. One of the guys told me that he had been to El Paso, Texas. Before I knew it the formalities were complete and I had a Georgian stamp in my passport.
From the Immigration office I was taken to my hotel - the only hotel in town. I was going to be staying in this hotel for two days...so I knew I had to get comfortable.
(I'm going to stop now and say.....to be continued.....)
A couple photos from day one: