That’s what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. School starts… in a week (I just checked my phone, having no idea what day it was, expecting Monday, and seeing it’s Wednesday – wow). I was able to talk with my counterpart a bit tonight. She is leaving for Yerevan on the 27th to take some tests for a specific degree/certificate she is getting, and she won’t be back until the 14th of 15th of September. I was looking forward to simply sitting back and see how things ran in her classroom before jumping in… but unfortunately things didn’t work out that way. That’s fine, I’ll just do it, you know, jump in headfirst, balls to the wall, all that good stuff. Really, it would have been nice to have her there at the beginning. But there’s nothing I can do about it now, and with the size of my classes (8 at most), things should hopefully be manageable.
My internet is remarkably fast for being in a fairly secluded village. I can even Skype just about whenever, though Youtube is not quite as reliable. Needless to say, I am very glad I have it. I am able to read all the news and blogs I want, and communication with everyone is very easy.
I finished reading A Brief History of Neoliberalism. At times technical, but very informative. Also read Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy and particularly enjoyed the second chapter on eating locally and its relationship to the environment, community, and the economy. I am now skipping around in Noam Chomsky’s Understanding Power (an amazing collection of his thoughts on a range of topics, mostly taken from lectures and discussions) and started Joe Morris Doss’ Let the Bastards Go.
A few days ago I went into Sisian to meet up with the other PCVs that live there and in surrounding villages. There are about 11 of us, and I really enjoy the group, we all get along pretty well. Glad they all live within a hour of me.
Another PCV and a friend from my training village Alapars, Mike, met me (almost) halfway between my village (Lor) and his (Tatev). I plan on making the full 4-5 hour hike to hang out with him one weekend, after we are “officially” allowed to leave our sites on September 6th.
The food situation is interesting here. Everyday, I am guaranteed to eat lavash, cheese, and honey. Almost always there will be cucumber and/or tomatoes. Potatoes will be on the table maybe every other or every third day. Some noodles are made a little less often, and rice and lentils maybe twice a week.
Unless we have a knorovats (BBQ), my family is basically eating a vegetarian diet. They’ve eaten meat maybe 3 times since I arrived. Nonetheless, there are still the questions about why I don’t eat meat here, though they mainly come from non-family members. Honestly, the reasons for not eating meat are less applicable here. Two big reasons, the environment and my health, are not relevant because the animals are raised in sustainable ways and meat is eaten so infrequently (and without hormones) that the health effects are negligible. So really, my only reasons are ethical, that is, I don’t see the point in killing an animal just to satisfy my tastes. The slaughtering of animals is probably better here than in the US, but the point remains the same. And when I move out, there is no chance I would by meat myself anyway as it is much more expensive than rice/lentils.
The last few days have been pretty cold. Unusually cold, actually.
I also found out there are some empty houses in the village, so hopefully I will be able to move in to one of them. Whether that would be in December, when I can, or after it warms up, who knows.