We’re a significant way through winter now. Hard to believe it’s already 2011 and that I’ve been here for almost 8 months. It has been surprisingly mild, at least from how it usually is and what I expected. My wood stove keeps me plenty warm at home and I usually don’t even need to start it until early afternoon.
I’ve only been back at school for one week because we had our two weeks off for Nor Tari (New Year). In Armenia, New Year’s is a bigger deal than Christmas, and it actually comes before it. Christmas in Armenia (literally called “Holy Birthday”) is on the 6th of January, and it used to be on the 13th. Everything basically shuts down starting on the first of the month and people are traveling and visiting relatives for the next week or two. Lots of eating, drinking, and calling family in Russia. I spent the 31st, 1st, and 2nd in my village celebrating with my old host family and the mayor’s family. I then returned to my old host family’s house near Charentsavan a few days later. I probably gained a few pounds as I stuffed my face multiple times a day and did very little physical activity.
The rest of Nor Tari was spent hanging out with other volunteers around Sisian. Whenever I am in Sisian, I make it a point to shower at another volunteer’s apartment or house because I never know when I will be able to bathe again. I think I’ll be able to take bucket baths at my house, but because it’s so cold I prefer to shower every two weeks or so (in Sisian, where it will be hot) and wash my feet/ head in between a couple times. I can also use wipes to clean up a bit.
At school, I am currently teaching by myself. My counterpart informed me on the Tuesday of our first week back that she wouldn’t be there for 3 weeks… which is fine, I just would have liked to have been given a little heads up. I’m not teaching the lessons from the book but rather treating it like after-school parapmunk (practice) so that I can teach whatever I like. Teaching by myself has its pros and its cons. On the one hand, I can teach whatever I want and use actual activities and teaching materials without being restricted by the book (which really only hinders the learning process). On the other hand, I have very little authority over the students and the boys will usually disturb the other students that actually want to learn. This is exactly how the first semester started as well, so I am used to it by now.
I’ve been cooking pretty well lately. I made a big pot of beans with some veggies in it – it lasted a good 5 days. Add that to some rice and eat it with bread/cheese and BOOM – that’s a meal right there. I’ve got some good spices, too, which helps (curry, cumin, and others). Much of my cooking has been done on my wood stove which saves on gas.
I don’t spend a whole lot of time outside, but this weekend I decided to start going on walks. The weather has been nice enough and the snow-covered mountains are a good sight for keeping my spirits high. A little exercise, nature appreciation, and educational as I listen to lectures/books on my iPod.
I realize that my Peace Corps-related posts (and posts in general) are becoming less frequent. This is largely because there aren’t too many new things to write about anymore, but when there are, I will write. Unless I forget. I promise to try. I also apologize for any typos – I generally don’t re-read what I’ve written.