The Training Village

So, I’m not good at putting up pictures yet, but since facebook doesn’t seem to be working for me, to my blog they go. Enjoy… and if you don’t like pictures… well… don’t enjoy. (Also, there’s about thirty pictures here… so you may want to take a couple trips here to take it all in.)

These are all from the months spent in my training village. For the pics of nowadays, you’ll have to wait. The process of putting these up is a LONG one.

I never quite figured out how this wonderful woman was related to my family. But her gap-toothed grin was priceless as was her frequent beckonings to join her for coffee, “Surj uzum es surj.” And she loved to dance, with little wrist flips and toe kicks.

This is my typical Armenian meal. Note the tomato and cucumber, still present at every meal. Also, there is cheese available on every table, and it is salty like whoa. And no Armenian table would be complete without bread in either the slightly stale, hard-to-tear chunks, or the harder-to-tear powdery flat lavash. Hatz u paneer (bread and cheese) is THE Armenian staple.

This is NOT a typical Armenian meal. The story is a good one, and a long one, and if you’re going to make it through these pictures, I’ll just give you the short version: Walked in the bathroom and was naked and climbing into the shower when I realized I was in the presence or our pokr kovi (small cow’s) head, skin and ankles. Poor Pokr Kov, as liked to call her. The family sold the meaty parts, but clearly they held onto the good stuff. These later became meals. However, they stayed in the bathroom for days. Plus side: they gave me something to look at besides the fly tornado that circled in the middle of the room.

This is my host brother bringing in the hay. I helped although the pictures me and my attempts were not worth the evidence they would provide if posted. But I did wield the pitchfork mightily.

Armenian Gothic. I couldn’t help myself.

I think my host sister weld the pitchfork more mightily.

Upon request, here is a picture of an Armenian church. Actually it’s THE Aremenian Church, Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It’s suprisingly small. Beautiful, but tiny. Most interesting facts: 1. Jesus alighted here, they say. 2. The church is built over a pagan temple that was used to worship the sun.

Horovats, the Armenian man’s barbecue. Here’s a good place to point out that here most people don’t have any of the same ‘culture’ around meat handling that Americans do. They handle the stuff, pinch salt out of the communal bowl, shake hands, scratch their face, touch everything without a drop of soap.

A picture of my favorite painting in my little village church. The church was built in 2000, and the paintings in the new building are gorgeous, with modern faces and poses. Actually reminds of the work of my friend, Kate Moore.

Sometimes the electricity goes out.

This one is for Aunt Sue. And check out the bowl! That’s gotta be one of the fanciest bowls to ever hold the famed Puppy Chow!

A favorite picture of mine of my host sister. She made me miss my real sisters all the time, but she was great fun to hang out with. We had lots of inside jokes that, wonderfully, had little to do with cultural or language barriers. Also, notice the tractor behind her. My host dad did a lot of work around the village bailing hay with that monster.

My host brother tending the horovats fire. Notice the cell phone in his left hand, the reason that minutes later he was stomping out a grass fire under the pit.

Host dad, skewering the chicken who just happened to be an unfortunate victim of the unfortunate dog who killed it, who was then unfortunately relocated to another house. At least the pup wasn’t turned out to the hills…

A rambunctious member of my groups summer camp, a project that three other volunteers and the village children did together. We gathered every week for games, dance lessons, or community projects. On this day we did a trash pick-up with an unintended end. Ask about that mini-failure if you’re interested.

My PCV friend Zoe planting flowers at our village church. Only days before we attended a funeral there where the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Catolicos, was present. He looked grumpy.

“Who will help me gather the wheat?” I kept thinking of that red hen’s fairytale on the day we brought the wheat into the cellar for the winter.

This is one of two pictures I think my aunt could make into a nice painting. It’s from a church called Geghart, a popular Armenian destination. What is really unique about this church is that most of the building is actually dug rightout of the mountain. There are chapels all over the slope, dug into the rock, where believers kneel, pray, and light candles. This picture is the main hall.

This photo is from one of the dug out chapels. The sculptors/carvers/diggers started at that little whole at the top, carved the intricate designes you see there, and later dug down to make a floor, columns, altars and crosses.

My favorite candle lighting picture. Another which I think would make a nice painting.

A wall from one of the dug out chapels. The designs are etched right out of the stone.

An entrance to one of the dug out chapels. Notice the hach kar, or stone cross on the left. These are everywhere all around Armenia, even in the abandoned churches you will find these abandoned works of art.

My training village PCV’s. Love ’em or leave ’em. I love ’em, but that conclusion came with lots of wanting-to-leave-’em episodes.

A last supper, ending in watermelon, with my smiling, warm and generous host family. I miss them.

And a last Watching-The-Cows-Come-Home from the khanut.


  1. […] 10, 2010 by breadtobeeaten I went back to the summer host family to visit for Nor Tari.  It was really breathtaking, seeing the miles of white surrounding […]

  2. […] From bottom left, clockwise: The first in the corner is a picture of my house on an icy day. The girl walking is my Belgian friend An, an European Volunteer Service compadre who served in Armenia with me. Above is a landscape of Armenia at dusk, a picture I took the night before I flew back to Texas. To the right of that are feet on the Vardablur gym floor (you might recognize the pic from my blog header!). Below is the Stepanavan central square in winter. And in the bottom right is a view of my tiny training village, Teghenik. […]

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