Howdy Ho!

Christmas is only 2 weeks away. Are you ready? Normally Christmas can be a stressful time – trying to wrap up work before a long break, buying the “right” presents, the traffic, the crazy people everywhere, and the media bombardment. Here, I am learning that it is up to me to create a Christmas environment for myself. Not only is December 25th just another day to these people, but I’m pretty sure that they celebrate their own Christmas (Jan 6th) in a much different way than we do.

So yesterday I decided it was time to get Christmasy. I shuttered myself in my room and watched the original Mr. Hankey South Park. Usually I watch the Mr. Hankey Christmas Special (from season 3), but to watch the original was a great reminder that catapulted me into a Christmas mood. I quickly watched some other Christmas stuff I have, scoured my CPU for music, and made a sweet snowman background in Photoshop.

What else makes it feel like Christmas for you? For me, the weather is a big factor. It’s been downright cheery here, which isn’t quite what I think of when I imagine Christmas weather. I think we’ve had over 40 days straight of sunshine now. I am pretty blown away – yes, it’s been cold, but not as cold as I thought, and much sunnier. For anyone who has seasonal depression, perhaps Armenia could be a good location, assuming the trash and lack of infrastructure don’t get you down. With that said, the buzz around town has been that it will snow tomorrow. We’ll see. I’m kind of hoping for some just to have a change from the dustiness that has prevailed in recent weeks.

Besides thinking about Christmas, it was an interesting week. Unfortunately, it started on a terrible note, as my counterpart’s father passed away. Going to the wake was one of the more profound experiences here, and one that I will probably always have with me. Needless to say, the apartment search with my counterpart has been put on hold. I decided that it was time for me to try to do something about it on my own, lack of language and local connections be damned.

I got Wayne’s old landlord’s contact information and gave her a buzz. We met one day, which actually turned out to be pretty funny. She wanted me to meet her at her job, at the polyclinic. I got there, she sat me down at her desk, and started asking about a business plan. What? Where’s the apartment, lady? Next thing I know, we’re in the director’s office. There are like 7 ladies in white coats and me. “What do you want?” I want an apartment. To salvage this situation, I asked if they wanted a PCV. I can bring you an application if you want one. But I thought this meeting was about an apartment. After saying goodbye to my new unwanted acquaintances, the landlord finally took me to the apartment. It looked great, especially compared to a couple I’ve seen. The killer is that they want 5000 more for it than Wayne paid. Or they could do it cheaper, but without signing the housing agreement. No thanks, guys. So I went home and paid my family for the rest of December (have I mentioned that it’s awkward to tell your family you’re moving out, and then you actually don’t move out? Yeah). Now I’m prepared to just wait it out a month or two more here.

Walking to my language lesson one day, I got stopped by the grandfather of a child at the Y. This man met me once, mind you. He became very excited when he saw me. He grabbed me by the arm (men here often walk holding each others’ arms) and walked me into his house nearby. His idea of drinking coffee included vodka shots, which was a way I’ve never tried before. Having tried it, I can say that it makes language class more fun. I would recommend it to you during a break at work, but I understand people might look at you strangely if you have a bottle of vodka next to your cup o’ Joe. One of the unfortunate differences between Armenia and the US.
Finally, today I met a lady who randomly called me to work on her English. I got to go see her work site, which is a mental hospital in Vardenis. They take patients from all over the country. The patients live in the facility for life. It’s all funded by one of the government ministries. It was nice to see that there is a pretty decent facility for the disabled people of Armenia. Looking around town, you wouldn’t guess they would have any sort of decent place to put mentally ill people. But this place had a nice cafeteria, activity rooms, and a nice outdoor area too. Plus, I now have another contact in the community. I can really understand now why we are here for 2 years. I have been here for over half a year and am just now slowly making contacts. It takes a lot of time to become a member of a community, especially in a foreign place.

Okay, drop me a comment and let me know what is new in your life. Thanks for reading, and expect some heavy posting near the end of the month, when I am not working!


9 Responses to “Howdy Ho!”

  1. Peter Says:

    Do these people that stop you have any prior knowledge of you or your involvement in PC, or are they just intrigued because you look a little different and a want a peace of your American dream!?

  2. Gail Says:

    I’m glad I didn’t have to watch Mr. Hanky with you this year—but I will miss watching A Christmas Story.

    So are you drinking coffee these days? Or just the spiked kind?

  3. Bryce Says:

    Now now Mr. Crookshank I recall walking arm in arm after vodka shots in STL, mKay….

  4. icenugget Says:

    @Peter – Some of them know I am a volunteer, but in general they just know I’m something different in a homogeneous society.

    @GUnit – Deep down you miss Mr. Hankey, I know it. I drank coffee twice last week, but fortunately it’s micro sized compared to the US.

    @Bryce – You must be thinking of Mr. Bay, for I do not remember that! Also, please see scene from Mr. Hankey where poop is in Mr. Mackay’s coffee. PRICELESS

  5. Ben Says:

    Coffee and vodka huh? Guess who’s moving to Armenia?

  6. icenugget Says:

    If that doesn’t entice you enough, almost everything here is organic…and the fruit is way better.

  7. Kelsey Says:

    I’ve been waiting to comment…but now I have officially watched the Christmas story on christmas eve and if I had vodka, I would have toasted to you!! I laughed at all your favorite parts for you though. 🙂

  8. icenugget Says:

    Now that’s what I like to hear. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a leg lamp somewhere in Armenia.

  9. 2010 in review « IceNugget's Blog Says:

    […] Howdy Ho! December 20108 comments 5 […]

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