It’s May? What?

Time is relative, right? I’ve been doing some traveling around Armenia for work. Maybe it’s the travel, or maybe it’s complete shock that it now feels like Spring (Wayne it snowed on 4/27), but I can’t believe it’s May already. Did April even happen?

Two weeks ago I was in Vanadzor to do some work on our CBD program’s project plan and learning objectives for training. It was an all day thing, so that meant traveling the day before and the day after in order to fit the marshrutka schedules. I am now used to the way that works here, but if I step back and think, it’s crazy that you can spend so much time here traveling for 1 meeting.

Vanadzor was a nice break in the usual routine. It’s the 2nd or 3rd city of Armenia depending on who you ask. I stayed with my good friend Kath, who is a fellow Solakite and a member of the “Over 50” volunteer community. She has a great bright apartment that made me realize how far I’ve fallen short of making my own Soviet darling feel like a home. Also enjoyable, besides her company obviously, was her delicious cooking which included things like cheese toasties, salads, French toast, wraps, and apple pie. Needless to say, I will be going back!

Last Wednesday I took off for a 3 day training in Yerevan with 2 Armenian girls from Vardenis. The topic was HIV/AIDS. It was a training of trainers, with the idea that we now return to Vardenis and do at least 6 presentations in the community. The training was great. There were 10 or so PCVs and about 20 Armenians. I really had a great time with the Americans there – they were some of my favorite PCVs. Almost all of the Armenians were great too. I was really impressed with their presentation skills and maturity in talking about many amot (shameful) topics. Especially impressive were the efforts of my Armenians, who unlike the majority there, were not alumni of the FLEX program (1 year study in a US high school). 1 of the girls is actually in my English club and had enough grasp of the language to understand me a few times when I couldn’t explain myself in Armenian. Combining her English skills with my Armenian, and we were actually able to understand each other as a group quite well. It helped that the other girl was one of my coworkers who talks to me quite a bit in Armenian, so I can understand her a bit better than most.

Sunday I came home from the training and stopped in Martuni to attend Nick’s going away party. Martuni is pretty cool because there is a cluster of 6 cool Americans serving in and around the town. They are all leaving at various times this summer, just another experience for me in survivor syndrome, which I’m sure I’ll write about once Aga leaves. 🙂

First, we went to Madina to pick up Hector. He has a great host family. His dad looks like an Armenian David Hasselhoff, except he can handle his alcohol. We had some great food in Hector’s house before leaving. Hector is a great guy from LA. As a Mexican-American, he is completely fluent in Spanish. I was always and still am baffled as to why PC thinks it’s a better idea to send someone like him to a non-Spanish speaking country like Armenia. I guess that’s the government for you?

The goodbye party was done in Nick’s school. We were met by 8-10 slightly elderly Armenian men, the teachers at his school. Apparently everyone was invited, but Nick knew none of the women would come. The men were in great spirits though and you could see how much they respected Nick. He is arguably the best volunteer we have. His level of Armenian is so high, which has definitely helped him truly become a valued member of that community. It’s pretty cool to see. As there were no women present, it was up to the men to prepare the food and set the table. There were a couple moments when I wondered if we were truly capable of accomplishing such tasks, but somehow we got it done. The khorovats was great, the vodka flowed, and there was even some nice Armenian singing. Despite a rainy spring day, the inside of the school was joyous.

Toasting in a classroom

Monday was a holiday for some reason. I have no idea why (but I can really get used to this). Since I had the day off, I did the only thing that seemed appropriate: Taco Night. That’s right, for the first time since leaving the glorious USA, land of plenty, and also land of Land O’ Lakes dairy products, I ate tacos. Thanks to my Mom, I had the taco seasoning and even some tortillas to use. I bought some fresh tomatoes, a pepper, cheese, and ground beef to round it off. It was actually my first experience buying meat from a butcher in Armenia. A half kilo cost 1,200 dram, or about $3.50. So that’s pretty close to what you would pay to 1lb of chuck back home I think. The only difference is that you carry it home simply in a plastic bag rather than the bloody Styrofoam seran-wrapped thing we’re so used to. I think if you walk down the street with a plastic baggie full of ground beef in the States, you’ll get dragged to the nearest precinct for questioning!

So, the tacos were delicious, and per usual I overate. Every time I eat tacos I finish the meal thinking, “I’m not going to make those again for a while…” Even better, it was Aga’s first time eating tacos. At this moment I realized the sad reality that not all countries are infused with the deliciousness that is Mexican food. One more reason to love the USA (no Bin-Laden reference necessary).

That leaves me at today, which is a work day that I am really using to get ready for the trip to Poland. There is a lot to do in getting myself ready and trying to help Aga wrap up. I’m pretty excited for the trip, but really don’t know what to expect. It will be my first time on an airplane in almost a year. Perhaps a fitting reminder that I have been here now nearly one year.

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2 Responses to “It’s May? What?”

  1. Emma J. Says:

    man, I can’t believe that a year ago we were sitting at Mokabe’s and I was worried that I would never hear from PC….my, how time flies. Have fun on your trip!

  2. icenugget Says:

    Wow! Don’t things like that make you glad you stepped up to the plate and made it happen? I think Mokabe’s in late fall 2012 is in order to come full circle.

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