Winter in Batumi can be a rather trying time. Days of incessent rain can easily bring the most upbeat people into a funk that never seems to end. Loyal readers will know that I struggle with this, especially coming from a desert, where rain is seldom, humidity rarer, and the sun is almost always shining. However, this year knowing that every morning my day starts with a visit to the Radisson has dramatically changed my life. People have noticed and commented. Well, it does do wonders to have access to endless amounts of hot water on a daily basis, a rarity in Georgia. Decadent, true, but totally worth it. As I post on Facebook last week in a post-soviet country the only motivation you need to work out is the prospect of being warm and having hot water. If it were only so simple in the USA.
My time at the spa is divided among swimming and the gym. I recently made the discovery that I like, no love, the elliptical machine, of all things. It is shocking to me as well. I put my headphones on, watch CNN or Al-Jezera and try daily to beat my distance and calories burned for the prior day. After a month of visiting the Radisson, I had been feeling bad that the scale said a loss of only 6 pounds. It seemed odd that it would be that low considering how loose my clothes are getting. Yet, in the past two days 3 different people have commented. Tonight host brother #2 said that "Charlotte...you're kilos are flying away." Thanks Lasha. I appreciate that. But there are still many more kilos to make fly away in the next 2 months.
As it is the off-season for tourism in Batumi, rarely are there other people there. However, on last Saturday there were approximately 6 people using the facilities. I must admit it felt rather crowded. Most days it is empty save for me, my host brother, and our university colleague. At times this can be awkward, very awkward. Case in point, a couple of weeks ago I ran into my host brother in the steam room. Um...yeah. I was greeted warmly with "Charlottenburg!" (My nickname, which I've noticed that he has started introducing me with to people and these people think that it is my real name. Charlottenburg is a part of Berlin, his dream city.) My heart sank, as this was one person I never wanted to see at the Radisson ever. "Oh...hey there." I hate being seen in my bathing suit unless I know I will never see those people again in my life. My host brother I see on a daily basis. Despite being wrapped in a thick terry cloth towel, I felt woefully under dressed. It got more awkward when our colleague shows up and invites us for a visit to the sauna. There I sat between two partially clothed men I see on a daily basis, and know well. Fortunately, the sauna looks out at the Batumi skyline. Enough said.
Until that "encounter" my host brother and I had set up a schedule of using the Radisson. We actually told one another that since so much of our lives are spent together, we need time apart. It was agreed that I would go in the mornings, and him in the evenings. This worked for awhile. Now we both go in the mornings, with the unspoken understanding that we don't really talk to each other. It works well. But, I will say that the day of the steam room encounter I was there at my scheduled time; my host brother wasn't.
A lot of the initial awkwardness of seeing my host brother and colleague at the spa has gone away. Today for example we had a discussion about work outside the sauna. No one seemed to care that we were not even dressed in business casual, and that we all had flip flops on. I'm sure that after my swim this morning, I looked awesome.