Shnor havor Amenor yev Surb Tsnude! Happy New Year!
It’s been a couple of weeks, I know. But I have a good excuse. I have had arguably the best collection of days yet in Armenia. They were not the typical, wonderful Peace Corps lot though they did include visits with Americans and Armenians and cross-cultural exchanges galore. But the idea of going over them is very very daunting. It’s definitely book worthy if I ever end up writing one of those.
But my Christmas was so unexpectedly wondeful I’ll just have to sum it up in a list (partly because I’m intimdated by the task of writing it, and partly because I need to get to my New Year’s party with my Armenian friends!)
So, take this list and imagine it as elements of the lit bit I’ll eventually write:
1. York and Margaux:
Margaux is a volunteer who works and lives down south. She and York met while completing a graduate study in education. York came to visit Marguax during his holiday break (he works as a middle school math teacher). Wanting him to see the country, Margaux brought him up north where they stayed in my house (note wigs which have been worn here. Thanks Kelly!). I was on my way south for Christmas, and so I was invited to travel with them. So it began…
2. Laughing. I’m not sure I’ve laughed that much in a very very very very very long time. We started writing down as much of a record as we could take between chuckles and guffaws, 19 pages of scribbles that will likely never make sense to any one other than the three of us.
Ex: “So, now that the meeting’s finished, get me an ice pack, and let’s go shopping.” Imagine the scenario as you will. Just know that after a few mornings, we started to complain that our abs literaly couldn’t take much more from our sense of humor.
3. Road trip. A car changes a lot. Many people who read this blog have cars, share cars, know of a life with a car. My own little Rodeo is sitting outside my parents’ house back home. But here I had only traveled by marshutni time tables and taxi drivers’ whims. After a frigid and cramped ride from Yerevan to my tiny cold town, York rented a car of his own. This would be his claim to fame among most PC volunteers he encountered who also were boggled by the idea of independent transport. The idea that we could just stop on the side of the road and take pictures or talk with shop owners or visit a friend: BAFFLING. Game-changing. The wind in my hair and US Pop airing from York’s iPod. A road trip in Armenia that included frantic photo shots out of the car windows, stops in the famed wine country of Vayot Dzor Marz, coffee with wine sellers, and car snacks of lavash and cheese and herbs and walnut rope. It was like our own Motorcycle Diaries or On the Road or a million other road trip fantasies.
4. Christmas. The road trip included a holiday which meant good food with good people. Margaux, York, and I landed in Kapan and teamed up with a few other people to make food for a group of around 30 people who all crammed into Margaux’s tiny apartment. It went down in typical Armenian style with an unexpected water cutoff (Margaux managed the whole preparation of the meal with less than an hour and a half of water), and with a kind visit from an Armenian neighbor who brought gifts to honor our American holiday (Christmas in Armenia is on January 6th). When we weren’t eating, we were playing games or watching some requisite Christmas movies (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Rent while making decorations; White Christmas while cooking up a storm; It’s a Wonderful Life during post-cooking nap).
That’s just a little bit of what really was some of the most incredible time I’ve spent in Armenia. I did end up missing a marshutni and therefore missing my last Christmas party with my World Vision friends in Stepanavan. I actually almost cried about that at the bus station. And the days weren’t without their bobbles. But I am absolutely certain that I have new relationships to be proud of and a year’s worth of experiences packed into a few days.
Thank you, York and Margaux, for a truly amazing trip. “My abs hurt from all the sorrow.”