Thursday, November 27, 2008
Lavash is the traditional Armenian staple. It is almost like a tortilla, but not. It can be a little jaw intensive to eat after it has been sitting out for awhile, like days. But I've eaten my share of it and find the history interesting. It is holy bread, therefore cannot be thrown out. And it is as old as time, consisting of only flour, salt, and water. I often come to this one room lavash factory to warm myself, and I eventually eat a few free slabs while the women are nice enough to let me take their pictures. It was an attempt to do a mini-essay, I hope you enjoy.
Every Tuesday and Thursday I run an "English club" with a group of 7th grade kids. They are more or less like wild animals on crack. They beg me to take them down to the stadium where I let them run around and be 7th grade kids, instead of teaching them how to say "Hello, how are you" in the classroom. I remember my 7th grade year as being the year of pantsing people and spitting really far. Awful. It has to be the hardest age to work with, I feel great amounts of pity to all 7th grade teachers. Today though, I brought a few of my own clothes, hats, scarfs, and belts and we played the 'put on clothes and run' relay game. It went over with many laughs and two rounds.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I was not able to copy one of his images, but Jason Eskenazi is worth your time. He has taken some beautiful and interesting photographs of the the Soviet Union and other Soviet countries before and after the collapse. If you have some time, visit the NPR link that has an 11 image gallery and a small interview with him. On my way out of the Peace Corps I think I am going to take the long way home, through some of these places myself.
Just when I think I've got the whole town of Vayk licked, scouted, and all discovered, I will stumble across something unusual. Since I am no longer able to run around the soccer stadium with cows and chickens in solitude due to the cold, I am using an old gym. While inside I heard small voices and chairs screeching coming from upstairs. I found a chess room full of kids and a chess instructor too. I learned they have matches and lessons 3-4 times a week up there, and while I did a few wind sprints on the court below that took me back to being in high school basketball, I thought about how retarded it is that I never really learned how to play and that some 6 year old could probably whoop me.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Passing moments, passing the time. The most exciting thing about taking pictures (in my opinion) is getting a great looking moment in your camera. Its like a little treasure, that you made and that you can put your name on, stick on the fridge and stare at. I would like to say thank you to the people who have been kind and encouraging with my photos, pushing me forward. Like it is said here, "Apres!"
Monday, November 10, 2008
A few shots of home life. I woke up this morning to find the tree in the front yard struck barren of its leaves and little Moni-dog looking chilled and gloomy at the front door. I always try to smuggle her inside at night for a few minutes but it never fails, everyone else prefers to have her outside. Poor poor Moni-jan, you don't have a prayer for an indoor existence.
For the past 3 days my town has not had any gas. We have been taking bucket baths and cooking our food with tiny electric coils. I took this second shot while in the kitchen chatting with Arpine, waiting for my oatmeal to cook, and hoping she wouldn't mind my obstructive camera in her face.
Aside from photos, I do actually work. I don't like to write about my daily life on this blog, who wants to read about anyone's day in day out stuff. Its a gift to be this free, and to give what you can. My newest project ideas are to host a breast cancer walk for women in the spring, provide some basic outdoor education to the youth here; compass reading, hiking, fire-building, river crossing, first aid, etc., and to work on a few teacher training classes this winter. But taking pictures is by far the most fun!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
After 6 months, this country feels like an old worn in car. I know how it works, how it smells, and what I have to accept. It has brought about some new thoughts and cultural awareness that I don't think I have the talent for articulating well. All that I can say at this point is that I wish everyone the experience to not only travel to far places, but to stay long enough so that your hands become callused from the grip of hanging there awhile.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Coffee and vodka, vodka and coffee. Each drink is followed by either a toast or a fortune reading. After the coffee is drank, you turn the cup over and let the sludge run down the sides. From the patterns in the sludge comes your fortune. My fortune has been read so many times I've lost track of what is supposed to happen to me. And if anyone sees your vodka glass empty they will gladly refill you whether you want more or not. "Paige-jan, eat, drink, and eat some more!"