This is has been a great week. A lot has happened, great food, company, news, and a record made. In our village we have kinda taken on inviting the other PCT’s to meet our H.F.’s. This weekend was mine. So everyone came over for a meal, desert, dancing, and cards. In Armenia, some families (I don’t want to say all since I have not been over to a lot of place yet, but it has been said all) put out a great spread. This was no exception! We had rice and chicken, pizza (Armenian style), dumpling, Lavash, salad, and other great things. After you fill up on that, then comes desert: this consisted of coffee (I told everyone’s fortune when they were done), chocolate, cakes (we had two kinds) and ice cream. I had lost weight up until that day. On the healthy side we danced it off. In preparation for this extravaganza, I tried to help in the kitchen. Lets just say I could not even prepare the salad on my own right. LOL. It was still nice. My H. Mom and sister are great in the kitchen. Later we had coffee, I caved in and had a cup myself. (The coffee here is really strong, plus I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker) since our neighbor was visiting and see tells fortunes from the coffee grounds left at the bottom of the cup. So to sum of my coffee: One person is missing, I have a long line (this is positive some how), something about a dog (I learned this means I am trustworthy), a boy misses me, I will be married within a year, and then to finish it off there was some interesting hand motions. (I’ll leave it at that) We got our site announcements this week. All 47 of us PCT’s were pulled into a central locations and told were we would be going based on Marz (regions). They started with the north and moved south. I was with the last group. We all looked at each other when they announced that they were going to call out the last Marz. I thought all of us are going there or are some of going to be sent home? I wont be going home…I will be living in Goris, it is in the southern part of Armenia. From what I am told it is very green, beautiful, it has museums and a monastery. OOO and mulberry vodka is produced there. My program manager described is a vodka that could kill you because it is so strong. My Primary duties will be with a teacher union and a NGO that works with grants (I think) Overall I am pretty excited. I will be visiting my sited in two weeks. It’s kinda hard to think that I will be leaving this H.F. when they have been so great. I mean I live the Mayor. Most importantly they have really taken me in as one of their own. I have been struggling with being in CBD, but today was the first day I felt like I belonged. We talked about NGO’s (Non-governmental organization---a lot like non-profits). I had information to contribute and I could ask real questions. It was fantastic. I met one of the PC requirements be diagnosed with something. It has to do with being sick for four days. If it does not last for four days, then you cannot really use that title or call the medical unit. I’m leaving this veg for the weak stomached. I am getting better day-by-day. I’m sure it won't be the last time though. I want to thank everyone for reading this. I have received e-mail and mail. It means the world team to have your support. It makes it easier to be so far away from all of you!!! I miss you a lot.
We had our first cultural day this last weekend. It was fun, we got to see some Armenia art and learn some traditional dances. A bunch of s PST’s came into the main city and hung out. I think we will be able to do this every weekend with a new topic or trip. I can’t wait to go to Yerevan and see the museums and art exhibits. The Host family is wonderful. I taught the whole family how to play Egyptian war. It was so much fun. My host father was so great and really got into. He’s a lot like my friend Liz who is vey competitive. I almost walked away with a bruised hand from when he went to slap one of the doubles. LOL. They said my face looked so scared. You would too if you had the man across from you jump out of his chair, hand flying through the air to get the cards. It was great. My Host mom has been helping me with my language. She has huge patience to work with me. She cooks great. She made tolma again this week. It’s a lot like dolma but they you cabbage instead of grape leaves. YUM!!! I told her that she has to teach me how to make it before I leave. We lost another PCT this week. One of the “funners” (50+) chose to leave. I guess he felt it was not as challenging for him and had an opportunity to go somewhere else. I wish him the best. I feel sorry for his host family. From what I hear the mom is really sad to see him go. I was able to go on a good hick in our village. It was so pretty, even when we followed the calves up the mountain. LOL We hiked down to the river and visited another old church. ( I will post pictures later) The church has a lower level where there are a lot of pictures of Christ and other people. I watched the two younger boys go down and kiss the pictures and show respect. It was quite moving to see. I need to find out if it would be ok to take some paper and charcoal and get the prints from some of the stones. The craftsmanship is amazing. Today I shared pictures of my family. I was the only one with a cowboy for a brother. It was great to try to explain to my host family. They got it! I also was picked on when my peers were able to practice asking questions. The main topic was whether I was going to amostastum hay e. ( to marry an Armenian or get married in Armenia.) I of course said no. Then my host mother and sister also asked whether I had a boyfriend back in the states. I told them che and that I was to busy. They said you are a good girl and should have a boyfriend. They laughed at me, I think in a loving way. It is not normal for a 24 year old girl here not to be either dating someone or married. All I said from there was I don’t know. So I got a phone thinking I would be able to communicate with those of you in the states. Texts are really cheap for me and don’t get charged for incoming calls or texts. I learned this week that not everyone in the sates could send out text international. L Which I hope explains why I haven’t received any texts from you. Sigh. I can still send them out though.
It has been two weeks here in Armenia. Overall it has been a good two weeks. I have language classes five to six days a week depending one how many central days we have. A central day is when all 48(not 50 because two people have already left) of us come together to cover medical, safety and security, and team building activities. We do spend time with our sectors once a week to cover more of what our jobs will be. So far everything has been real general. I wont know what my actual location or agency will be for another couple of weeks. I’m pretty sure I will be with an NGO but not sure yet. It can get tiring since we have class for 4 hours then you go home for more language coverage with your host family. My host family is wonderful. They really take good care of me. I am pretty spoiled I think compared to some of the other PCT’s who are in other villages with no running water. ( This is most likely because they will be in villages were it wont be available) My HF says I eat to little but I tell them that it is a good thing since I am getting healthier. All the food is organic and fresh from the garden. We have Lavash with every meal. It’s kinda like a tortilla, but bigger and a little bit tougher. The weather has been stormy. Last night the electricity went out do to the lighting. We even had hail. Nothing like Vegas. OOO and we keep getting prepared on how "cold" and depressing the winters can get. That freaks me out a bit, but I believe I may be put more into a city that will have central heating. My fingers are crossed. This does not mean I won’t freeze; I just may not became an ice cube. The trainers keep saying that they don’t want to scare us. LOL. You all know me and the cold. Funny story time: First, one night for dinner I was shown we were going to have chicken and rice…with chicken feet. All I could say was "oooo chicken feet." (Now please note up to that date I had not had any food that was not similar to America) So we sat at the table and had the meal w/o the chicken feet. When were we done they pulled out the chicken feet. I was offered one and I had to say "che, che, che"(no, no, no) then I had to look away because the image of boiled chicken feet was beginning to be ingrained into my mind. They all laughed at me and but the chicken feet away. I told them I was sorry. Second, we were all at the dinner table chatting when the Host father was explaining the relationships for me. I have a host sister, host brother and a host momma, but he is a "dear friend". I didn’t know how to take that but found it to be quite funny. He is a funny kind man. I got a cell phone; my host brother picked it up for me in the main city. Now I can call people and send txts. It is quite expensive for me to call people, but free for you to call me. (hint hint nudge nudge). Txts are very cheap so that will be the main use I believe. It you would like the number send me an e-mail. As you can tell I am doing better. Each day gets easier. I’m getting into a routine. I have a good amount of me time to read, pray, and journal daily. It is a very kind county.
These are some pictures I have been able to take. The first are the a couple of a 5th centrty church in my village. It is in one of the villagers back yards. It was was amazing to see. The third one is one of the great views I have. The last one is my saintuary. (my balcony)
I made it to Armenia; it was a long flight from JFK to France and then to Yerevan. I did have some frustration with having to go through security again even though we had only got of one plain to get onto another. It didn’t help that I was feeling sick. We got into Yerevan at 8:55pm and took some time for all of us to find our luggage. We all stood out like sore thumbs. That night we went to stay in some cabins. They were really nice, heated showers, toilets, and nice beds to sleep on. This in not a typical experience for trainees, usually you roughen it a little pit more. My nervous got to me and I was horribly sick, so much so I asked for a doctor to see me. I missed the first full day of training because I was not feeling well. Training has been pretty much a lot of introduction on safety/health, our jobs, and language. I am excited about what I will be doing, at least from what they have told us. I think I will be working with NGO’s (non-government organization) to help with structure. We also have goals of working with the women and youth to help shift them into the working community. It is still early and we will get our actually site info in a couple of weeks. From the camp we moved into our Host Families house. I almost didn’t do this as I had a moment where I thought I needed to go home due to my stomach and nerve issues. The Peace Corps staff talked me into trying to stay and give it time for me to get used to everything and let my stomach get used to the food. We had a ceremony where we are to meet our HF and watch Armenia traditional dance. I first introduced to the wrong family. They gave me roses, and then we found out that I was the wrong person. They would not take back the floors. My real HF is the Mayor of the village I live in. The house is generous and huge. My room is on the small side compared to American standers but oooo so nice. I have a balcony that looks out on the yard (which has an apple tree and cherry trees), the village, and the mountains. I get up in the morning to read and write in my journal on the balcony. I have a host mother and father with a host sister and brother. The siblings speak a little English, which has been very helpful and funny at the same time. Their great people, very kind and generous. It is harder than I thought it was going to be. I know I want to do this, but sometimes my nerves get the best of me. Its overwhelming being in a place where you don’t know anyone, speak the language, and have never been. My anxiety comes and goes, but really affects me at night. My first night in my host families house I got up and night and backed all of my stuff up and was going to call the staff to send me home. When I woke up that had gone and I prayed about it and felt God told me to stay one the path and trust in him. The PC tells you will feel alone at times, which true. It’s going to take some time for me to adjust to this. My mom says in all her wisdom (after I woke her up at 1 and 6:30am) that I need to put mind over matter. I know that I want to be here and that I want to do this, so I just need to do it and get over the fear. Overall everything is wonderful, better than I could have ever expected, I just need to trust that I can do it on my own. On a funny note, leave it to me to bring gambling to Armenia. LOL. I taught my H.Sister how to play Egyptian War and go fish. She was not too interested in Black Jack. They found it amazing when I showed them how to shuffle cards. They also new that our casinos don’t have windows and no clocks. Yerevan has a couple of casinos but I don’t think people from the villages there.
Hi everyone. I have made it to Armenia safe and sound. The flights were ok, long and security was crazy! I did have luck with having what was a carry on turning into a check-in for free. That rocked. We are staying in cabins that are not normal, we have running water, electricty, and tolets. IT great. I will post pictures later. I will write more later.