It’s been a few days since I moved into my new place, a small house in the center of the village. I have two bedrooms, one of which is closed because I don’t need it and it is holding all of the belongings of the owner of the house.
There is a front room that contains my “kitchen,” which is basically my Peace Corps-issued stove, dishes, food, and my water filter. My furnace is also in this room (I actually don’t know what it is called in English, but in Armenian it is vararan and in Russian peech). There is another room that contains the bathing room and a kitchen-like area, but I have to walk outside to get to it and is basically useless, so I am not using it. There is no bathroom, so I have to walk to the outhouse whenever nature calls.
I have electricity, but there is no running water inside. A water source is about 2o feet from my front door (basically a hose) where I can wash things, but it is not suitable for drinking. I have been bringing buckets of water from the spring in the center of the village because that water is cleaner.
Moving out was definitely the right choice, but everything is more difficult now. Cooking, for example, is something have missed a lot, but doing dishes is a big hassle without running water. Bathing will also be interesting (I haven’t done it yet here). Since I go into Sisian about every 2 weeks, I will probably just shower then and wash my head and feet in between – baby wipes might come in handy here. Running water, a toilet, and hot water for showers was the nice part about living with a host family, but I think it is going to be worth it.
I bought wood this week and have been chopping it and organizing it with some of my students/kids in the village. I bought 4 cubic meters for 56 thousand dram total which is about $150. This should definitely last me through the winter and will probably carry over into next season. Trying to get the furnace burning has been kind of a struggle, as the one I have isn’t great and lots of smoke has been leaking. When the wood is burning well, there is much less smoke, but it has been difficult to get a good burn as the wood is not very dry. My neighbor said he will bring a smaller furnace and some kerosene from Sisian the next time he goes. He has generally been pretty helpful, but it does seem as though he thinks I’m a complete idiot. He definitely thinks I don’t know how to burn wood (which is partly true), or how to cook anything. This evening, he showed me how to fry eggs – which he did in the most unhealthy way possible. After pouring in a entire layer of oil, he fried the eggs and added salt. I tried to watch as though I was actually learning something, though I was getting fairly annoyed. This was the same neighbor who the night before told me Armenia has much of the best fruit in the world, the spring water is some of the cleanest in the world (as opposed to Glendale, where people must by bottled water), more people smoke in America than in Armenia (percentage) and that a shot of vodka in the morning is a healthy way to start your day and increase your appetite. His wife also told me her legs hurt when she didn’t eat meat. If I got upset every time I was shown a poor way to cook eggs or some insane fact about America/Armenia, I would never be happy here. But because I simply go along with it, I thoroughly enjoy my life here.
And one big reason I am happy here is the kids. Here is a picture from last week when I went on a hike with some of my students to a hill called “The Lone Tree.”