I’m so tired I can’t breathe. More to the point, I can’t bloody sleep. It’s not like me – just the workaday insomnia for me, not a three-day bender of ragged raving sleeplessness. Night one you can chalk up to newness and a rotten arrival time on your flight. Night two, revelation. Saints of yore bolted upright at visitations from angels and heavenly hosts. Yours truly with less exalted visitation by bedbugs. Or, as it goes with faith, an unsubstantiated but fervently held belief in them anyway. Subsequent microscopic investigation revealed no evidence of the little beasties. But something is biting me, and I spied small flying creatures during one frantic lunge at the light switch. I have set vinegar honey traps and plugged in to wall sockets mysterious Russian products whose packaging features winged things prone on their backs, awful sticky legs surrendering to the sky. Trust me on this: among the things you do not want to Google at 4am: “bed bug fecal matter.” Night 3: fading but still righteous terror of biting things, plus bug bite inspection revealing a newly engorged mole that spells nothing at 3am except m-e-l-a-n-o-m-a. If you are so unlucky as to be on my international speed dial, I am sorry that you had to hear a delirious madwoman wailing “I have bedbugs and cancer!” I do not mean to make light of either. In those dark, mad hours I was dead convinced of both. Thank God for the light of day.
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Fundamentally an introvert, there are so many times in a day when the idea of buying things from people seems too daunting to consider. I fumble with the language and don’t want to draw the attention to myself. But the best and freshest and cheapest fruit and cheese and spices and sauces to buy are from the village vendors who take up shop along the streets and underpasses. I decided to adopt one of the stalls as my go-to villagers so that the arrival of the American wouldn’t be such a production. They’re darlings, these. After the usual pleasantries (“Where are you from, my dear?”) and the usual fibs (“you speak Georgian so well!”) we enter into global tomato showdown. They asked me if the vegetables and fruits in Georgia taste better than the fruit in America, knowing perfectly well what the answer will be and standing back and beaming before I even can start getting effusive over how great their fruit is. “They are big in America, but not delicious” says me. “Yes, big! Because it’s GMO! GMO!” says them. And I say EXACTLY and we smile together in agreement, parity established. As superpowers go, you could do worse than global fruit dominance. Phew. Groceries sorted. I count the days, but still, unlike taxi drivers my village vendors have yet to ask if I’m married with kids and how old I am, which gets really old. An American friend (you know who you are) invented an entire imaginary family for the benefit of her taxi drivers, only I believe she kept forgetting the ages of the fake kids. All cities have their petty hazards.