The Super Bowl in Armenia

One of the fears I had about leaving home was missing all kinds of sports. Baseball, basketball, and football. I loved to watch the games on my massive HD TV. I loved to watch ESPN tell me what I just watched. And I loved to read all about it online, hear about it on the radio, and talk about it with my friends.

Two years later here I am and I haven’t really missed it as much as I thought. Yes, I missed a Cardinals World Series victory. But I was still able to participate by listening to the games live on ESPN Radio. It was actually a cool experience that was kind of a step back in time. My imagination worked on overdrive as I imagined everything that Bobby Valentine & co. told me. When they clinched the series, I found myself laying on a makeshift mattress on the floor of a cold old house at 7 in the morning with a bunch of other volunteers passed out around me. My AC adapter ran alongside the chopped and dried wood for the wood stove right next to my floor spot. I’ll never forget it.

So how do we celebrate the Super Bowl here? That’s right, it’s a holiday if you really think about it. Well, your casual volunteer will probably not witness the event. But for those of us who are sports nuts we find a way. Last year it involved hitching a ride to Martuni, staying up all night with the A-17s, and watching a sometimes crappy live feed of the game without the actual commercials. I hitched a ride back home at 8 a.m. with a nice guy delivering a mountain of plastic bags to Vardenis.

This year was even better. I was invited to Ijevan, a city in the northern marz of Tavush. Two PCVs from my group live there in an apartment together. I had never been there so it was a great excuse to make an out-of-the-way trip to see their town and enjoy the game. They have a lot better setup than I do, with actual chairs and a couch, plus a coffee table. But how did we watch the game? No TV.

No problem. What PC lacks in amenities it forces you to make up for in resourcefulness. We checked out the PC projector and hooked it up to a laptop. Then they used their high speed internet connection to download a torrent of the game right after the game ended. If you don’t understand what a torrent is, then join my club that I started. Basically think “file.” Several tense hours later, which involved 6 men not checking their email, not logging into facebook, and carefully screening phone calls in order to avoid ruining the fate of the game, we had our download. Our Super Bowl started at 3 p.m. Monday afternoon. We were probably one of the last pockets of American men on Earth to know who won. Time stood still.

With the projector rigged up on top of the couch, we watched the game in a captivated trance. It’s not often you get to watch something HD in the PC. Wires were strewn everywhere, a sheet acted as our screen, and the picture bobbled around whenever someone on the couch moved an inch, but the game was glorious.

The rest of the time there was spent watching way too much stuff on the projector. I also played some Tecmo Super Bowl on the projector, leading my Bears to a nice victory over QB Eagles and friends. Sleeping was an every man for himself proposition, as is usually the case. I utilized my increased constitution to sleep “outside” on the balcony. The warm Ijevan nights equated to the normal bedtime temperature of my own apartment, so I was effectively sleeping in normal circumstances despite the concerned trappings of my cohorts.

Ijevan: Just as dirty as the rest of Armenia

Besides all that, I got to see one more place in Armenia. At this point it’s nothing new, but you can appreciate a beautiful place like Ijevan regardless. I realize my time is becoming shorter now. I am still not in bittersweet mode yet, as it is quite cold and unpleasant yet. But that time will come. I just realized yesterday that I have just a few more weeks of language lessons left, perhaps 14 sessions. The end is starting to begin.

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4 Responses to “The Super Bowl in Armenia”

  1. Peter Says:

    That river photo is kind of chilling.

    I think you should make a trip to LA sometime down the road and go into a restaurant and order everything on the menu in perfect Armenian with a straight face. Think of the shame you could bestow on the servers’ parents who realize their children will never speak it as well as you.

  2. icenugget Says:

    They throw their trash in the river because when the spring melt comes the rush of water carries it downstream. And guess what’s downstream? Azerbaijan. All over Armenia you can find people throwing shit in the rivers claiming that it either flows to Turkey or Azerbaijan. Nevermind poisoning the water supply for your Armenian neighbors…

  3. Peter Says:

    Not to mention it looks like most of the trash they throw just sits there in their own village.

  4. icenugget Says:

    I know, impeccable logic.

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