Happy New Year!
So starts my first full year in Armenia. I apologize for the hiatus in blog posts, but one of my many new years resolutions is to keep the blog more up to date.
It has finally turned cold here in Armenia. I went to a town called Yegeghnadzor in Vayatsdzor marz to ring in the new year and we were all pleasantly surprised by the covering of snow when we woke up to January! We made a snow-she/man, went sledding on garbage can lids and plastic bags, made snow angels and enjoyed some general debauchery. Before the snow Armenia had looked dead and dull with all the trees sans leaves and the countryside bare. But now…I am living in a white winter wonderland.
When I returned south to Kapan I found that only the high mountain Khustoop had more snow on it. Kapan remained the only place without snow. However, I awoke this morning to snow snow snow. I immediately woke up Robyn and Lizzie to have them share in my wonderment. Only then did I realize that my clothes I washed Friday morning and hung out to dry were still on the line since it had rained a bit and the clothes definitely were not dry enough yesterday to bring in. Well now they are more wet and lining the chairs inside my apartment. Vochinch.
I will have you know that I was not the only one with items on the line still this morning. But I was quicker to get them inside!
For those of you who haven’t been kept somewhat up to date via Facebook or tidbits heard elsewhere I will try to convey the past 5 months of my service into a few highlights. This could be a challenge.
Settling in September
School started on the 1st. There are 43 students in my village school but only 2 actually live in the village. This I found to be somewhat stressful because there were no teachers or students in the village to hang out with after school and work on my language, assimilation and integration. This lead to the big decision in November.
Finding out my counterpart isn't working at the school this year. I am at liberty to choose my own new counterpart. I take her, Anna the biology and chem teacher, to the conference in the resort town of Tsaghedzor.
Unlock weekend from our sites. 30 of us went to Lake Sevan to hang out. I got to swim in the lake but it was bitterly cold and rainy there.
Waking up to chicken feet in the kitchen sink. I never actually tried one but just ate the broth around them.
Enjoying the fruits of my family’s garden and the beautiful scenery around my village.
Bowling in Tsaghedzor.
***Lizzie moves to Kapan***
Shnorhavor Usutsichneri Or: Teacher Appreciation Day. The students recite poems, sing and dance. Then the teachers drink cognac and wine at school. Apres!
Becoming best friends with brothers Kamo (14) and Garin(11). We went hiking, fishing, frog catching and at the end of every adventure I was invited into their home to socialize with the mother (Tamara) and grandmother (tatik) and of course eat more delicious cuisine. Plus they have the most precocious 3 year old little sister, Laina.
Visiting Vahanavank with the school and picnic-ing and then more delicious horavats.
Working with World Vision on International Hand Washing day. We went around to the kindergartens and gave presentations on proper hand washing and the benefits of healthy lifestyles.
Visiting the Farmers Market for the Kapan Small Farmers Association
People watching in the city square. (creepily with my camera)
Hanging out with friends on rooftops.
Soccer Matches. Kapans team translates as "Treasure Mountain" and their skills are equivalent to an American high school team...on a good day.
Finding the DAS which stocks curry, soy sauce, pickled ginger, cereal, Chateau Margaux wine, Tobasco, Venus razors, and blue cheese! Along with a myriad of other things.
My trip to Robyn’s village, Tsav. We taught a dance to the 1st graders for the upcoming talent show, hiked, I was courted by the young and more age appropriate and dined with some crazies.
We had lots of visitors to Kapan for Fall break. We break in the karaoke joint and have a fantastic time. Photos may not be blog appropriate.
Robyn and I hike to the Andokavan Fort ruins.
Armenian mullet haircuts
Matt moves into his new apartment and I am mostly free of the host family from hell.
New Home November
Snow in the village on November 1st.
Meeting the DAS Boss Artur. This man may be the best connection I make in country. Plus he loves to fill me and my friends up on fine cognac.
Uranium mine in Kapan. This rally successfully gathered the most Kapanites to band together against the installation of a new mine. However, plans are still in motion to begin construction.
Hanging out with the Yerevan soccer team fans at the local hotel.
Kapan Spelling Bee is a roaring success. Our students did awesome at the Regional Bee a few weeks later held in Goris.
Packages from America arrive chock-a-bock full of delicious American things!
Lizzie and I do several AIDS and HIV awareness presentations. The students also participate in a poster contest for World AIDS Day. Some of the submitted posters were amazing. One of our students actually won the contest.
Lizzie moves into her new place and we find dusty gems. Fur coats, record player with Russian records, and soviet post cards.
Jay and I hike with students associated with his NGO to Vahanavank and then the two of us head further up the hill to Halidzor Fort.
My favorites students, Kamo and Garin’s tatik offers me her apartment in Kapan to live in. It is amazing and I decide to rent it from her for the remainder of my service. Love this family. I move in. It needs some modifications and renovations but love my new place!
Thanksgiving in a small village with 15 other volunteers. Delicious food and fun company for my first major holiday away from home.
I spent a week in Yerevan. Hared my first international Hash at the botanical garden and then had All-Vol. Every volunteer in country reports for this conference for three days to discuss what has happened and future opportunities.
I worked at the Homeland Handicraft Fair with the NGO Lizzie and I have been working with to sell crafts made by Armenians in the regions.
Home sweet home. I get to make my new apartment my own with a new heater, couch, lots of cleaning and the first homemade meal complete with a Halloween funfetti cake. A bit late but still delicious.
York comes to visit for 10 days. We rent a car and have the time of our volunteer lives!
This might be a post for itself. coming soon.
I host dinner for over 30 volunteers. read: SHITSHOW.
2010 came to an end. In all this year has been amazing. The first 5 months at home in America with great friends and family and building new friends, who have become my family here in Armenia. I hope everyone had a great holiday season and the new year is off to a great start. Shnorhavor!