Volume I Number 12: December 11, 2004
Is it cold? Oh yeah! Since our last email, the weather turned for the worse and, as the locals have said, won’t improve until spring arrives. While we were in Yerevan during Thanksgiving, we were snowed in forcing road closures for everyone heading north (that would be us). We stayed in Yerevan an extra day due to these closures. The day we went back to site, we took an alternative route making our trip 6 hours instead of the usual 3.5 hours, with one pit stop.
Back at our site, the wind howls all day and night. We don’t have much snow but the temperatures are between 10-20 degrees with the wind-chill. Our new home doesn’t handle the cold weather as well as we would like. I guess you could say it’s kind of like snow camping in the mountains, except we’re in inside our home snow camping. Like many Armenians, we are living out of one room. We have three to work with but we can only heat up one. We have taped the window seams, added extras thick (1/2″ thick) wool blankets to our bed, have a minimum 2 layers of clothes while inside and blast our electric heater. We still get the chills, especially at night, but we can’t complain too much, we’re in the warm part of the country and January hasn’t even arrived yet.
With the cold weather came a lot of illness. In the last two weeks, our school has had at least 30% of the children absent at one time due to the flu. Many of the children still attending and teachers still working were also showing signs of bad health. Surprisingly Laura and I didn’t catch the flu, yet. The director was asked to close the school because of the high number of illnesses but she refused. Closing the school would have allowed everyone some time to recuperate and prevent the spread of the illness. We don’t know all of the politics involved but we don’t think keeping it open was the best choice. Our clubs suffered quite a bit these last two weeks. Some clubs had over 90% of the children absent.
We are going to visit the states for a few weeks in February. February 1st we are flying from Yerevan, Moscow, Seattle, and into Portland. We will spend from the 1st through the 8th in the Portland area. From the 9th through 16th we will spend time in San Jose. On the 16th we will fly from San Jose, Los Angeles, Moscow, and into Yerevan on the 18th. We know it will be a busy time so we hope that we can see everyone.
Laura and I have been enjoying some wonderful music as of late. Laura has been thoroughly enjoying her holiday music. Her top choice seems, no surprise to her family, is the Roger Whittaker Christmas album. Ask her to sing a few tunes when you see her next. We’ve been listening to the latest Green Day album “American Idiot” and are enjoying the catchy melodies and memorable lyrics.
The Eurasian Black Vulture has been rescued from a bird protection organization in Yerevan. The bird was rescued a couple weeks ago while we were in Yerevan. It is now living in Yerevan and will remain in captivity for some time. Currently, we are living across the street from where the bird once resided, but no one seems to be able to make a connection between us and the bird. This is good.
We hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year! We will spend our Christmas with other volunteers either at their site or at ours. We will spend our New Year (Nor Tare) with our Dilijan host family. The New Year is the BIGGEST holiday of the year for Armenians. It lasts from January 1-6. January 6th is the Armenian Christmas but it’s not as celebrated as January 1. Santa Claus (Dzmear Pop, which means Winter Grandfather) will visit on January 1. The website is back up so feel free to check it out. We sent many pictures in our last email so keep checking website for their posting. Packages that were due to arrive here have arrived, two months after being sent. Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing back from you. Take care!
Wishing we were in Peace Corps Fiji right now,
-Brett and Laura