Not Quite Spring

The mud was almost gone. Almost gone! Snow seemed out of the question. But we’ve had snow all day now, even as I write. What’s another half foot at this point though? It will probably melt in a couple days (I hope).

So even though we are still hovering around freezing, life must go on. First thing was the poetry contest I spoke of last time. Everything worked flawlessly (the girls showed up, the taxi showed up, the event happened, etc). We had a great time and I was really proud of the girls. The youngest one is perhaps the most adorable 12 year old girl I’ve ever seen. She is so diminutive and shy, but when she got on the stage she was as brave as a soldier. Two of the girls took home 2nd place in their respective grades.

The whole crew in Martuni

Then, last week we were busy at work finishing up a grant for our summer camps. I spent a couple days translating it with one of the girls. When translating there are many moments where I just have to let things go that really bother me. I have to remember that I am supposed to be translating and not recrafting all the ideas within so that they make sense to a western mind. Of course there are times when we have to rewrite, but if I stopped every time I wanted to, we would never get done.

Friday we were off to Stepanavan, a city halfway between Yerevan and Tblisi. Aga and I stayed with Pascal, our French friend who lives there. We arrived at about 8:00 Friday night after a day in marshrutkas (the final 3 hours on a stool – ouch!). He wasn’t back from Yerevan yet, so we went to a Georgian restaurant, where I had khinkali for the first time. Needless to say, I loved these oversized raviolis. Oddly, the restaurant had no beverages except for a pear soda (famous in Armenia, known as limonat). We ordered one and then secretly drank some leftover vodka that Aga brought along. I mention that because the next night we returned to the same restaurant after learning from Pascal that he always brings his own drinks, including beer and vodka, into the restaurant. Later Friday night we met Pascal’s French neighbor, Mike, who had some great photos of the recent political demonstrations in Yerevan.

Stepan: Bolshevik Leader

Saturday was spent wondering if Pascal would wake up soon, deciding to leave without him, walking around Stepanavan being amazed that people weren’t amazed to see us, bumping into a PCV who gave us a tip to check out the cemetery, walking through the cemetery and finding an amazing view of a river gorge, eating baklava, hiking through a village to a hilltop, and finally reuniting with Pascal. At this point we were tired and hungry, so we decided to return to the Georgian restaurant. We ate some delicious food and drank our drinks. Then Pascal went out to check on something and never came back. We soon realized he had been absorbed into an Armenian party’s table. We joined him and immediately had shot glasses and juice in front of us. I think everyone had a good time. For us, free vodka and some entertainment. For them, 2 French dudes, a Polish girl, and an American sitting at their table. By now, I know what to expect from these situations. The conversation turned almost exclusively Russian when they realized that Aga spoke Russian. That left Pascal and me in the dark for most of the time. And Mike, despite having some Armenian blood, has just started learning the language, so he was lost most of the time. Finally, we left right as things were getting a little weird. It was a good cap to a good day.


The next day was spent in transit to Vardenis. We spent a couple hours in Yerevan between marshrutkas, and it was possibly the best couple hours I’ve spent in that city. The weather was warm, yet not hot. We ate ice cream in Republic Square and watched some kids rollerblade down the steps. Then we grabbed a beer at a café near the Opera and did some people watching, my favorite activity in Yerevan. Maybe it’s the break from being watched that pleases me so much. Or maybe there are just some really interesting looking people in Yerevan. Whatever it is, I love it.

Monday I went to Gavarr for a safety meeting with PC. We have these mandatory meetings where we talk about what happens if there is an earthquake, war, etc. And now, here I am, trying to find a place to stay in Yerevan Friday night. I signed up for Couch Surfing, despite my skepticism. So many people swear by it. I have really enjoyed meeting different Europeans while living here, and using Couch Surfing is another great way to do that. So I’m giving it a try. I have a meeting with Armenian Red Cross for Border2Border on Friday. Then on Saturday I will go to the Armenia v. Russia Euro Qualifier. It should be a great weekend, as long as it doesn’t snow!


2 Responses to “Not Quite Spring”

  1. Peter Says:

    Love the photos! You are so Euro now – taking beer and vodka breaks and couch surfing. Very envious of the Euro qualifier! Take lots of photos and save your ticket.

  2. icenugget Says:

    Thanks man! It should be interesting: a bunch of Americans cheering on Armenia. Good advice on saving the ticket. Full report soon.

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