Thursday, June 30, 2011

Armenia I

So far I am thankful for two things.

  • The verb “to be warm/hot” cannot easily be confused with “to be turned on.” To my knowledge. Although it took three months for somebody to tell me last time…
  • Smiling and giving the thumbs up to my mom to show that I like something or understand is not politely telling her to F***k off.

Without these two mistakes to make, so far I haven’t had any problem with the language. Ha. I tried to tell my family I was going hiking with some fellow volunteers and my host dad got out the car and was ready to drive me to church because they thought I wanted to go pray. I also told my family that ice cream was called “Eskimos” in America. Sorry Alaska. And when asked if I thought cows smelled and I said no, the smell didn’t bother me. The next question was whether or not my mom and dad owned a cow. To that I answered, No my parents do not own a cow; but all of America just smells like cow manure. At least I know this to be true in 1 out of the 50 states. Go Wisconsin.

Speaking of cows… I got to milk one the other night. Now I know all of you Wisconsinites are not impressed (although the Minnesotans secretly areJ). I do however want to assure you that I rocked it. I’ve always heard milking cows is hard. Nope, I got plenty of milk out of that cow. In exchange for milking the cow, the woman who actually owned the cow promised to stop by sometime and read my fortune in the coffee grounds left in my cup. (Similar to reading tea leaves. Which Armenians found to be weird? Reading tea leaves is so much weirder than reading coffee grounds.)

Speaking of cows…* another volunteer and I have started going for cow runs. These runs are dubbed such because they happen at the same time the village cows are being taken out to pasture. (about 7am). We run through the town, dodging potholes, water, and cow manure, saying hi to all of the Tatiks and Papiks.** while they stare at us, dogs bark at us, and cows seem to “pull over” and let us pass.

*I plan to start as many sentences as possible with this.

**Grandmas and Grandpas

Coffee. If you were to race Armenians against the Spring Garden Coffee ROMEOs (Retired old men eating out), I am not sure who would win. I spend at least a quarter of my day “drinking coffee”; another quarter is devoted to eating. I have set a limit of three pieces of bread a day. That is one with each meal. It is hard to stick to when each member of my host family at some point throughout the meal insists that I eat more and puts another piece of bread in my hand and food on my plate. Confession: I consumed at least a weeks worth of lavash tonight while helping/watching my host mom and sister knead the dough, throw it, and bake it. Delicious.

On a more or less serious note…

I’m squatting again. Okay, that wasn’t the serious part. But seriously. I am. The first time I saw my squat outhouse some nostalgia swept over me (Oh those China memories). The second time I saw my squat outhouse, all such feelings were fading memories. The third time I saw my squat outhouse I realized: it’s still a squat outhouse. On the pro side for personal hygiene: I have a hot shower.

Now seriously…

I find out my permanent placement in July which I will move to in August. We (the volunteers) are kept pretty busy right now with language six days a week, technical training three times a week, and other activities once or twice a week. It is nice but exhausting to be this busy. During my free time I usually “hang out” with my host family, study up on the language or get together with some of the other volunteers. “Hanging out” with my host family usually consists of a lot of staring. I can describe their physical appearance in almost perfect detail. While I understand more than I did on day one…which was nothing; my comprehension and speaking skills are still developing. And by that I mean severely lacking…but developing.

I hope life stateside is going swimmingly for all of you. Send me updates when you can. Things I may be interested in: How many brats were sold at Bratfest? Have all of the winter kegs finally been switched out for the shandys? What is the newest Chris Brown song? Are all Wisconsin politicians present and accounted for?

In all seriousness, I do appreciate any emails, messages, phone calls, letters, smoke signals you may send my way. I probably will not have a lot of access to internet until sometime in July but I’ll make an effort to respond when able!

If you would like my contact info, phone number/address, email or message me and I’ll send it your way.



  1. Ah, going running in places where it is a foreign concept. You can meet the most interesting people and have the most interesting conversations because the conversation begins from the premise of "You are clearly a crazy person for running around in specialized clothes for no reason."


    Love this update. I can hear your voice and it makes me happy.