Moving permanently to Georgia

We have been in Georgia for 2 months now. It feels actually more like 2 years and I don’t mean it in a negative way. We are quite used to living here already, even though the life that we have here is a lot different from what we had in Estonia. I need to admit that I like this change, even though I sometimes find myself reminiscing about life back home and my people back there, I really feel like this is home too.

Last time when I laid all my thoughts and emotions out, it was late June, we were stuck in Estonia with the whole family and the only thing we knew at that time was that there is no certainty when we can get to Georgia to join Kristiina and Hannes who by then had been alone on the spot for 4 months - dealing with plantations, harvesting, making teas, packaging, everything. You can read the post HERE.

Preparing myself mentally to arrive in Georgia

With all the hustle with flights, me and Kendrick ended up arriving in Georgia in mid-September. Mario got here around a month before us. We just couldn’t afford to get  tickets on the same flight as the prices were enormous and I think that eventually it played out even better. As we had a pause in the tea packaging because we just didn’t have enough resources on the spot, Mario’s hands were full of work from the day he landed - there were hundreds of kilograms of teas that needed to get packaged (we are still doing everything by hand) with a really limited time so he was able to concentrate fully on the work. 

Those 3 weeks alone with Kendrick in Estonia were a bit tricky for me though. On the day when I took Mario to the airport, I was so terrified that maybe we will not  see him for a while, just because the pandemic started to get worse and who knows, maybe they would cancel the flights again. Luckily this didn’t happen.

Me and Kendrick made a calendar to cross out the days until our flight - just to remind us how much time we had left and I tried to make it more exciting for him as well. Each day I got to say that we are one day closer to see daddy and the tea bushes. 

Kendrick with his calendar
Kendrick with his calendar on the day we started our trip to Georgia

I think what made me especially emotional was the fact that Kendrick won’t see his grandparents for a long time. As we all lived 5 km apart in Estonia, he was used to seeing them quite often and he always really enjoyed it. I got the feeling that we are taking away one really important piece of his life. We do live in the 21st century and I know that it is not that dramatic because we can see each other any time that we want via video calls, but it is not the same.

First weeks in Georgia were tough

We finally arrived in Georgia on 17th of September. Mario came to Tbilisi to pick us up. It was around 3 AM local time and Kendrick had slept for 2 hours only during the whole trip (we started our travel a day before at 12 AM, he was far from rested at that point). “We were flying with the plane and we were looking for you, daddy!” were the first words that Kendrick said when he saw Mario in front of the airport and again I cried inside. I was so happy that we were finally all together.

Kendrick and Mario in Tbilisi airport
Seeing Mario in Tbilisi airport after almost a month

I had really mixed feelings for the first few weeks. On one hand I was happy to finally be here, on the other hand I felt sad because of Kendrick. Even though Kendrick is quite a clever little guy, he didn’t fully get what this moving to Georgia actually meant - he kept repeating  that he wants to go to our real home (to Estonia) and wants to visit his grandparents. Which again, is very logical - what you can expect from a 2,5 year old. I think that he got used to the fact of us living here after being here a month or so.

The second really big change for him was local daycare - new teachers, new kids, new language, everything was new for him. It has been a pretty emotional journey for all of us. I think I have cried every time while taking him to the daycare. It breaks my heart to see him so sad and disappointed but I know that getting used to all of it takes time. On a good note, after a day in the daycare he actually talks with great enthusiasm about the things that they did and that he again learned one Georgian word “gamarjoba” (which means “hello” and that he has actually known for a long time already :D).

We also take Kendrick to the plantations and get him involved as much as we can. He really enjoys being in the middle of the tea bushes and watching guys working in the plantations, pretending to do the same, watching cows and piggies, playing in the mud - true country life.

Kendrick in Renegade Estate
Kendrick enjoying plantation life

Now we also found “Ingel” (Ingel means “an angel” in Estonian). Ingel (who’s name is actually Ingrid but Kendrick just gave her a new name) is one lovely Estonian lady who lives quite close to us and from time to time spends some time with Kendrick. He just adores her and it is so heartwarming to see the bond that they have. She is like a Georgian grandma from Estonia if that makes sense. 

Getting used with life in Georgia again

Getting used to life in Georgia after being in Estonia for a year has been quite smooth as we live in the same place that we used to - we know our neighbours and people around us, we know our neighbourhood. When I went to the local market for the first time to buy potatoes from my potato lady after being away for a year, she recognized us right away and asked about how we have been and said that she hadn’t seen us for such a long time. It has been good to see the old familiar faces who also actually remember us and this has made us feel really welcomed here. This is what I adore about the local people - they can be so welcoming and also helpful. For sure there are some exceptions but luckily I have had mostly positive experiences. 

Kendrick and Hanna in KutaisiWandering around playgrounds in Kutaisi with Kendrick

A good example of their helpfulness. One day we went to buy a piece of plywood with Mario. We overrated the size of our car and we needed to admit our stupidity but as we didn’t want it to go to waste, we asked for a saw so we could cut it in half. We still have a quite big language barrier here so we didn’t really understand what the guy said but I got the feeling that he will bring us a saw. Then another guy came, they talked between each other, after what I understood that there will be no saw. Ok, so we decided to leave our plywood there and Mario was supposed to come back with a saw and then cut it. Suddenly a third guy with a saw popped out and then it got really funny. We ended up sawing a piece of a bloody plywood with 5 Georgian guys who took shifts just to help us to get the plywood to the car :D 

Why we moved to Georgia in the first place

Besides us getting used to the local life again, there is a lot of work that needs to be done during the winter period. This is actually the reason why we moved here permanently, so that there will always be someone here who takes care of everything and coordinates the works in the plantations. Previous winter periods we have taken shifts and no one has been here permanently. Now Mario has taken the lead in developing our plantations. These shoes are certainly quite big to fill but he himself is really excited about it and so am I. Surely it is a huge learning process but well, no one from us didn’t know anything about growing and making tea and now, 3 seasons later our teas have got some really good reviews from tea industry people, so I think that we are doing at least something right and as far we are open to learn, I don’t have doubt in ourselves :) 

Mario and Simoni in Renegade Estate
Mario and Soso planning the works in the plantation

My role here is supporting Mario and keeping you guys up to date about our highs and lows. Also to show the progress of our work and bring you along to our Georgian journey. I need to admit that being here without the rest of the team feels slightly weird but as we keep in touch on an everyday basis we don’t feel “alone” here. Maybe only sometimes, when we have an especially crappy day.

Pandemic in Georgia at the moment

If you wonder what the situation is  with the pandemic here in Georgia, then it is not good, but I am trying not to concentrate on that because it might stress me out. At the moment we have 3500+ cases per day (Georgian population is around 3,7 mln). Schools and kindergartens are closed again, some of them have been for the whole time. Wearing a mask in public closed areas has been obligatory from the very beginning of the pandemic and for a few weeks now the mask is also obligatory in open public areas. Surely there are also limits for group gatherings. In addition to that, we also have a curfew, so we are not allowed to be outside from 22:00 till 5:00. For some of you it will probably sound like a normality these days, but I tend to compare everything with Estonia, as I was there until mid September and this differs a whole lot from the restrictions there.

To sum everything up...

Anyway… I think I need to wrap it up for now otherwise it gets tooooo long. To sum it up, we are grateful that we can be here now and hopefully our work during the winter period will show results during the harvest season. What makes me a bit sad is the fact that we won’t see our families during the Christmas time. There hasn’t been a year without spending the holidays with the family for all of my 29 years of life, but I think that we will organize some virtual Christmas gathering, at least this is something. I actually have no idea when we will see anyone from home in person, but as the time flies here, I do have hope that it will happen faster than we can imagine.

But on a positive note - it is a tangerine season and this makes me really excited! Today we went to pick some tangerines (and lemons) straight from the trees and I haven’t had such delicious ones before in my life. I think I will soon look like a tangerine myself :)

Hanna in Renegade Estate
I accidentally bought myself a hat with "Everything is possible" written on it,
hopefully it is a sign :D

Written by Hanna