..and that charmless town is Vardenis where tourists rarely go there because its nothing town.But a Canadian teacher has been living there for the past some year and half and this is what she has to say.
The following are 10 Things I Love About Armenia:
1. There’s a small store across the street from my apartment that we call “Abacus Guy’s Store.” That’s because there’s an old man who’s usually behind the counter, and he adds up your goods using an abacus. (No new-fangled calculator for him!) He’s always so excited to see me come in, and greets me with a big hello and a hearty handshake that starts way out and comes swooping in to meet my hand. I like this place even more now, because he recognizes me and sometimes lets me cut in line. Can’t get enough of that VIP treatment!
2. For all the faults my apartment has, I love the view I get from my balcony. And now that spring has arrived, I can sit out there with my coffee and comfortably enjoy watching the Armenians come and go, which role reversal offers me a small amount of satisfaction.
3. I love that the question, “Duk Hay ek?” will get me a free place to stay and more food than I can eat, anywhere in the world there are Armenians. (And since Armenians are everywhere…)
4. My four counterparts at the college and I get along really well. We have coffee together almost every day after classes. We joke around. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We teach each other. We get frustrated at each other and then we laugh about it. We had a May 1st party, just the 5 of us, and it was awesome.
5. I have a friend who owns a small street-side kiosk that sells cigarettes, candy, and cell phone minutes. I like to go sit in the kiosk with her, visit with her in her broken English, and watch people come and go. Compared to American standards, her customer service is awful, but no one seems to care. Sometimes she’ll leave people hanging while she finishes a conversation with me or talks on the phone. She usually doesn’t greet people that come to the window, and answers questions with a curt yes or no. But with me, she’s always very nice, and she loves the opportunity to practice her English. The more I get to know her, the more I learn about her life and the way things are in this small town, which I find both disturbing and fascinating.
6. I’ve gotten used to being “hyurasirel-ed,” and since I know to expect it, I kind of like it. Whenever I go to any Armenian’s house, I will be offered coffee. With the coffee will come a dish of candy, which will inevitably end up being unwrapped for me and placed on my saucer. There will also often be cake or some other bakery, and/or fruit and/or wine. And now that it’s warmer weather, ice cream also comes with coffee. When coffee is over, a meal will often be served, and then tea will be suggested. I can’t do this every day—I have to space out my visits—but when I’m in need of a little “guest love,” all I have to do is knock on any Armenian’s door.
7. The birds chirp non-stop. I went for a walk today, beyond the town limits, to the fields, and I really noticed it there. But even in town on my busy street, there are birds everywhere, making music. When I sit on my balcony, I can’t look anywhere without seeing birds.
8. Apricots here are delicious. I never really ate apricots back home—probably because they don’t grow in upper Michigan, and they don’t travel well. They get bruised easily, and don’t stay perfectly ripe for very long. Until I came to Armenia, all I really ate were dried apricots, and they’re just not the same. I didn’t realize exactly how flavorful and delicious Armenia’s apricots are until I went to Barcelona and ate apricots that were tasteless and not very juicy. Apricot season here starts in about a month. I can’t wait!
9. I still get a kick out of seeing herds of cows or sheep completely blocking the streets on their way to and from pasture. And I still think it’s amazing that when they’re going home in the evenings, they each know exactly which gate to turn in at, peeling off from the herd one by one as they reach their own barn.
10. The people in my town think I’m beautiful, and they tell me that to my face on a regular basis.
Finding charms in a charmless small Armenian town
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