The room was white and blank with a series of curtains and a number of beds with people in them. My head was spinning as I was thinking, “Fuck, I’m getting too old for this shit!”
I rarely drink anymore unless it is a social situation like this one was and oh boy did it kick me in the ass.
Apparently it had been a rough night. I was out with some friends of mine who lived in Tbilisi, Georgia and we had been discussing investment opportunities, banking, and entrepreneurship in Georgia. It started off well in a nicely renovated flat that a friend of mine owned finished to the highest European standards. It then escalated from there after a bottle of crown royal whiskey. The ideas people share here are fantastic and the opportunities are amazing.
This was my second time waking up in a hospital bed with alcohol poisoning. The first time was in college at some yuppie private school where we had a mix of aristocratic families, along with state senators daughters and sons who couldn’t keep their legs closed on a Friday night, and the international students from Eastern Europe who knew how to party and generally were more refined than the stupid fucks who I went to school with. Fortunately I was sensible enough and dropped out after the 3rd year and didn’t keep wasting money on education in the USSA.
Now back to the alcohol fueled shenanigans…
My second thought was, “Wow, I’m a moron for not buying health insurance sooner. This drunken escapade would have been free.” Seriously, the health insurance is cheap here if you are a resident… really cheap! 150 dollars for 80% of just about everything covered plus 100% of emergency room visits, and one checkup a year covered. The hospitals have the newest equipment that you might see in the USSA, Europe, and Asia but the costs here are dramatically lower. The doctors speak three languages not just one. Many of them go to school in Germany and other European countries. This is a very nice place even if you just come here for residency to save money on health insurance each year that will cover you globally if you choose the right plan. Drop your O-Shit-Care in the USSA or any other 3rd world shit-hole and get yourself some good medical care. The good doctors in America are leaving for Central America and Asia, so you might as well leave also and get health insurance that covers you globally while you travel.
Third thought: “Fuck, I’m still drunk.”
I looked over and realized there was blood all over the pillow of the hospital bed… ‘lovely, what did I break this time? I thought I was finished with such shenanigans in my late 20’s…’ After reaching for my sunglasses, I realized they were not present, however the sticky red spot on my head was from the imprint of the side of them. I religiously wear them 24/7 as eye protection after my car window shattered one night due to a gunshot back in the states.
There was something seriously wrong with my head. Now, I know what your thinking, but now is not the time for crazy jokes… My head was throbbing! After reaching up to touch my head I realized they put a tube in my arm and were pumping me full of some clear liquid from a bag hanging above my head. I felt some oozing sticky stuff on my hand. Upon closer inspection it appeared red and sticky, and my head started to spin.
After waving frantically at the nurse I got her attention. She walked up to me and just said, “drunk” in a very thick Georgian accent. I replied, “Yes, and I’m going to throw up, so could you get me a trash can to puke in?”
She looked confused…
I made a second attempting by motioning with my hands near mouth using my fingers to show stuff coming out. The language barrier is a bitch and my tendency to talk in broken Latin learned in high school and college doesn’t help either when still intoxicated.
“Celeriter… shit… no… that’s latin,” she looked confused.
“Rapido trash can?” Nope Spanish does not work here. She still looked confused.
I made another motion to show stuff coming out of my mouth. Aha, now she understood!
This time she immediately ran to fetch a trash can… “Specibaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…” (“thank you” in Russian) she arrived back to the bed just in time as I saw a mix of steak and red wine exiting my mouth from last night. Three points! Shame on those kids in gym class for picking me last for basketball… something about my aim being bad… sheesh! Next she arrived with a hand-full of paper towels. This time I got out a, “Madlooooobaaaaa…” (Georgian for “thank you”) before the chunks started to fly again. This language thing gets easier after a year of flying in and out of this awesome country.
Dinner was fantastic, by the way. Organique Josper bar in the Old city of Tbilisi is simply amazing to be honest if you are looking for a really good restaurant for 30-40 Euros per person with an appetizer, 2 glasses of wine, a main course, and a desert. Just don’t tell them that a drunk American sent you… This is very expensive by Georgian standards, but the food is excellent, so if you are in town go there!
Quite a few good restaurants can be found In the city center near the “I love Tbilisi sign” and the strip club (not a fan, but whatever floats your boat). After seeing those two locations you make and find a set of stairs going down to another pathway with restaurants lining each side near a bunch of people trying to sell you overpriced tour packages.
After puking in the trash can I told the nurse, “I want to pay and leave.” She looked confused again. I told her “I go now? How much Lari?” (Lari is the local currency in the Republic of Georgia with approximately $1 USD to 2.50 Lari exchange rate).
She came back with a piece of paper and said, “Friend, you call him.”
So, she dialed a basic Nokia cell phone that people use in the States when they are doing questionable things and don’t want a lot of attention. A friend of mine answered the phone, “Hello John, you fell and hit your head last night, they did a CT scan of your head and you are OK. We will be at the hospital to come get you soon.”
This is what I like. The Georgians have little faith in government as well. Some of the only things that need to be said on the phone are “where” and “when” you will meet someone then you can talk when you see them.
While waiting for my friends to arrive I reflected upon how thankful I am that friendships like this Exist in Georgia. This led me to begin thinking about the past and the present. My last few years in the US were an absolute hellish roller coaster. I dropped out of college for the last time, got kicked out of the house, was homeless for two months while living in a 2000 Volkswagen Passat in St. Louis while I was working nights at a 7-11 for a really nice Arab guy named Mohamed. Sleeping in the public library while your laptop is turned off is a good way to do this if you need tips. Along the way I picked up another part time job during the day for a shrewd Chinese businessman who sold cell phone cases in affluent shopping malls in St. Louis. This limited sleeping to four hours a day which was OK for awhile. Afterwards I liquidated some possessions and made a down-payment on three months of rent in a questionable area across the river from St. Louis near a spot that a lot of bikers and petrol heads would frequent. It was exciting. Living there for three years taught me a lot about the world and I was blessed to have a wonderful roommate who owned the place.
Thinking about the stupid shenanigans in the states like the way the wind feels on your face in the middle of winter driving down a country road after your window shatters while driving down the highway. A pair of Oakleys helps with the stinging feeling significantly. Half the windshields in taxi cabs in Georgia are cracked as well, so it benefits you to always have eye protection. Enjoy it, this is the free world and the police won’t pull you over for something as stupid a cracked windshield. If this bothers you then please don’t come here and try to change it.
The police in Georgia can read and write in their own language, imagine that? It is a toss up in America getting a cop who can read and write fluently. And these Georgian police officers can read and write in Russian and English also. Needless to say your likelihood of being shot by a cop is a lot lower in Georgia than the USSA, so the safety benefit is also a plus.
There is this stigma to this lifestyle of few possessions and traveling to ten or more countries each year that you are some dirty hippie sitting on the beach with his MacBook Air writing a blog about how he is living life on the beach and banging hot chicks every night while watching the sunset. That sounds nice, it really does, but he is missing a lot of opportunity in the Republic of Georgia (secretly I am happy many dirty hippie digital nomads stay out).
This is a very easy city to live in due to, taxi rides costing only $2-$3 USD anywhere within the city. 4GB of mobile data is 3$ USD per month. A meal at most restaurants is $4-$5 USD and a subway ticket is $0.20 USD. An apartment in the city center will run you $300-$400 USD, with utilities costing no more than $50-$60 USD per month (for everything, water, gas, etc). The livability of the city is open to interpretation based on what you consider to be 2nd and 3rd world. Tbilisi reminds me of what I imagine Sofia, Bulgaria to have been like 10 years ago.
If you can come to terms with playing human “Frogger” while crossing the streets here you will be OK. Georgia “works” if you “go with the flow”, where in this case the “flow” is often “total chaos.” Don’t try to fight or change it. Life is enjoyable here in a libertarian sort of way.
Aside from the drunken debauchery, Georgia is amazing from a business standpoint. Normal people walking into banks off the street are getting 10-12% return on a 1 year CD in a bank with a $10,000 USD deposit. If you invest $50,000 USD you can basically write your own ticket for 15% on a CD. It is not unreasonable because the bank will loan that currency out again at 30% interest on a loan to a private person. And yes the banks are safe here, they are backed by the government and the US has their hands on the puppet strings of Georgia so do your own research. Seriously though, fly over here and make some money!
This country places significant importance on personal responsibility to take care of yourself, so if you are begging for more social welfare programs, please stay out.
The church is also important here but not to the extent where the views are shoved down your throat. I’m not religious but if there is a God out there he is probably laughing at me for being dumb and falling over while drunk.
Locals here are generally quite awesome. It feels like a mix of the Balkans with an Asian disorderly feel, mixed with something from a movie about Ukraine. This is an awesome place and quite free, if you are a fan of the libertarian mindset. Georgians are wonderful people. Truly they are some of the kindest people I have met in the last year living out of a checked bag and a carry on. My only request is that you don’t knock the country for not being like where you are from. Georgia is very unique and you will either love it or it will drive you crazy. Personally, I love this place.
Fifteen minutes later my friends arrived and we walked into the hospital office. My head was still spinning as I pulled out my wallet and said, “how much?”
The lady at the computer slowly replied, “350 Lari.” I asked if she could look and see if I had health insurance as I pulled out my Georgian residency ID card. Apparently I did not have it even though I was told by the salesman that the residency package included health insurance. By the way when you spend thousands of dollars on a residency package, please please, please get everything in writing and don’t buy the first product that someone offers you.
After stumbling out of the hospital waiting area and towards the exi,t I realized they didn’t make me sign anything. This is awesome, in the USSA we have all kinds of bureaucratic bullshit to deal with after checking out of a medical facility. If they don’t like how you are behaving they can keep you and charge you more money.
Needless to say I was as pleased with the freedom as I was with the prices. My friends and I proceeded to walk out of the front and to the car. There were no armed thugs with badges at the door like in St. Louis or people harassing us to buy stuff in some overpriced gift shop. We hopped in a Subaru and went back to my apartment. This hangover would take at least a day to sleep off even with with some delicious Georgian carbonated mineral water.