Wednesday, April 28, 2010

cotton candy

I was looking back at my vacation pictures from Georgia and Turkey, feeling very spring loaded to be somewhere else, somewhere new. In the Peace Corps, I think it is important to travel out of country every so often, as often as you can actually, because these small developing countries have a way of blocking your vision to what else exists. Of course memory is still strong, but even being in a big international airport after 7 or 8 months of just being in Armenia is a little overwhelming. This picture is from Batumi, Georgia - a small beach town on the Black Sea coast that I really liked. I think this was the last roll of it for the day, and I watched these kids' nervous faces hoping this lady could spin more. Cotton candy days aren't too far down the road...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

a little of both

This woman is a math teacher at the school I work at, and she also shares my birthday. So she's immediately cool with me. She's lives close to the small corner store that once was a small soviet style refugee trailer that served someone's living needs but is now my favorite place to pick up eggs, bread, or more phone credit. The owner is a lush, is always seen to have a few shots of something near by and willing to share with anyone he can persuade to drink with him at 1:30 in the afternoon. And it's the only place I feel comfortable having a little debt at. He'll just write my name down in the small paper notebook that is filled with years of pages of people who haven't paid, and in a day or two I'll give him the 2 bucks. I don't know why I even ask, I think it makes me feel more like a local maybe. Last night I was down there around dusk and took this picture. I like seeing pictures with 2 kinds of different light in them, it has always grabbed my interest. I know it's on the dark side a little, so put on your glasses and forgive.

Friday, April 23, 2010

play your part

A photo I took when we were working on our women's day exhibit that I think is an accurate representation of the standard gender roles in Armenia. It's a system that works well, is protected, and actually sought after - as getting married and having children is the biggest priority in life here. Even children in the schools, when asked questions about gender roles, agree with the kind of norms that embraced American society 50 or more years ago. It is old as time, these kinds of expectations and limitations, and the pattern doesn't break easily (or should be broken at all) here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

50mm love

I hardly ever take pictures of things like apples and trees, but with this film camera I got as a gift last year (a 50mm Canon AV-1 old school), it's like putting on a pair of Life Is Beyond Beautiful pair of sunglasses and feeling really inspired by how it looks through the lens. I have been shooting old Russian slide film I got from a friend, plain 200 speed Kodak, here and there rolls of black and white from other volunteers who have lost their spark on taking pictures - it's been a lot of fun, and I while it's a little expensive to keep the developing and printing process up with my Peace Corps salary, I think I might let my digital camera take a break for awhile.

Monday, April 12, 2010

lunch and tourists

A group of 4 Irishmen came to eat lunch at my old host family's house this afternoon as part of a home-stay tourist program run by a hostel in Yerevan. I came over around noon to help with the table setting and taste testing, and all 3 of my host mother's kids showed up to see what was going down as well. In typical Armenian style, the tour bus was about an hour late so we sat around looking at the table, and I took some pictures and later taught one of her sons what the term "that sucks" means while waiting for the giant Irishmen to come. They seemed to like the food as the gulfed it down without speaking. They asked me how long I had been in Vayk and looked completely astonished, half sympathetic, when I said almost 2 years. One of the coolest things about doing Peace Corps is not being a tourist, making friends and a life somewhere far from where you thought you could.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I took this photo last night while waiting to eat dinner with a family whose son is leaving for Russia to work for a few months. Although this girl was staring at the music video on TV, she had a curious yet shy demeanor that reminded me of myself at that age. Later towards the end of the night, I had to talk her into taking a photo with my camera despite the small thrill I could see on her face. I told her as I left, "you're going to be a great little photographer some day." She didn't say anything, looked at me with simple eyes and grinned.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

naps and worms

I have been getting emails recently from new Peace Corps Armenia volunteers that will be coming in June. Their questions are understandable; I remember feeling like I was jumping off a cliff and not sure whether there was going to be water below. And so I have been asked things like "is there reliable electricity, how do I live, how cold does it get, how much Armenian I knew before hand" and so on. The answers to these questions really depends on where you are here, because the country varies from region to region. But I can tell you that of course it will be cold, sometimes there is no water or electricity, by some stroke of magic luck you will learn to speak this language, definitely you will want to quit more than once - but it is all worthwhile. It is a rich, esoteric experience few people will know about.

The audio is conversations between my friend Jon and I about the gastro-intestinal friends you will meet and 4 o'clock standard nap time.

So, if any new A-18's are reading/listening to this please know that we are excited for you and encourage the bold step you are about to make.

Preface of audio: first half - sitting on my roof eating awful dried peaches.