One family's diary, journeys and thoughts

Monday, July 31, 2006

Baby Pics

...as requested by viewers/readers, here come some pics of Vicky's baby. Meet Juliet, aka Baby Remix. Guess which name was given by who, hee-hee).

Saturday, July 29, 2006

No more painting!

Yet another piece of news - we are finally done with renovating and cleaning the house! There is no more sand faling from the ceiling into our food, and the hardwood floor is now the color of wood, not ash. Even though I still have baby blue paint in my hair, I am quite happy!

Now, for selling it...

It's a girl!!!

Vicky now has a baby!!! Stay tuned for updates.

Hiking, interrupted

Okay, now about that trip.
The village of Garni is famous and very beautiful. It used to be the summer residence of Armenian kings, and still has the ruins of the royal summer palace. It also boasts a pre-Christian 1st century temple (Greek style) and a beautiful 12th century church. It is home to the most delicious apples in the world, and the coldest, yummiest spring water. Most of all, it stands by a gorge, or a canyon, which is one of the most beautiful sights in Armenia.

All this in mind, I asked one of my mom’s friends to take us hiking there. Now almost 70, our guide has been hiking in Armenia, Soviet Union and abroad since 50s. Someone you can trust to take you there and back again. So we went.

All was well the first day. Yeah, it was hot and the backpacks were heavy with all the food still in them, but those things come with the territory. We took a minibus to the village, then walked down to the canyon. From there, we walked on, heading to some abandoned Turkish villages upriver, and, eventually, to a beautiful waterfall and a church high up in the mountains. You may see the slideshow of the hike here.

The problems started later, when we reached a convenient campsite, pitched a tent and were cooking dinner. Just as the soup was about ready, we became aware of voices approaching our camp. At first, we thought it was another group of tourists. Then, that the village shepherds were driving home the herd. Finally, as the voices became closer, we realized it’s a bunch of drunk guys. Seven of them were squeezed into a small SUV, which they promptly drove into a little swamp next to our tent. They poured out of the car, stretched, yelled at each other a bit… and then noticed us by the fire…

Sufficient to say, we didn’t eat that soup in peace. They weren’t aggressive, just very drunk and annoying. Two of them were whispering some niceties into Vicky’s ears, two older ones bugging our guide, while the rest were annoying the heck out of me and Roxy. Thankfully, about an hour later and after assuring them over and over again that no, we don’t need any help, thank you very much, they finally dug the car out of mud and drove out, almost over our fire and the tent. I really hope they got home in one piece, because the roads they had to travel were narrow paths over the cliffs, it was pitch dark and they were very UI.

Well, next morning was nice and bright, so after a breakfast we decided to go investigate the waterfall. By then, a minibus full of village locals arrived in the neighborhood and sat down for a picnic not far from our campsite. Seeing as they were with wives and kids and looked like normal people, we talked to them, complained a bit about last night's visitors, after which packed out camp, left the backpacks under a tree with the nice guys and headed over to the waterfall with just our cameras and swimming suits.

It wasn’t an easy hike, but we made it to the waterfall after all and, I must say, it was worth it. The fall itself is pretty high, and under it the water has carved a natural basin in the rock, which is pretty deep, but not too wide (about the size of a large jacuzzi). Even though the water was very cold, we swam in it, our guide and I, and Vicky had to swim some too after I pushed her in. The fun ended abruptly when our guide slid on a slimy rock and fell. It was obvious that he dislodged his wrist and, possibly, broke it, too, so we dressed quickly and headed back to where we left our stuff with those nice people.

Did I say nice? By the time we got back, the guys were drunk! They were not as annoying as the last night’s guys, they were thousand times worse. Not only we were forced to share their food and drink with them, sit and listen to their drunk boasting and toasts, watch them being rude to their wives and their mother (the party consisted of two brothers with their parents, wives and kids,) but all the guys were making passes on Vicky the worst way possible. We had no choice but to stay with them and take the ride back to village they offered, not only because our guide couldn’t hike back with the broken wrist, but also because they insisted we stay, and if we tried to escape, it would mean war. My cell phone had no reception so far into the canyon, so I couldn’t even call a taxi, as one of the more sober guys suggested. Finally, after much suffering, we loaded into already crowded minibus (they were trying to get Vicky to sit with them in the front by literaly pulling her arm) and headed back to the village. Thankfully, the driver was less drunk than everyone else, but all three of us were praying really hard while the car was bouncing over the rocks on the narrow path next to a 1000-foot drop.

Thankfully again, the sober guy in the group happened to not be related to the jolly family. He was a neighbor, who recently bought a house in the village after spending 20 years or so in Fresno, CA. Seeing our sufferings, he insisted we get dropped off at his house once we got to the village. Somehow, our hosts agreed, so the girls and I went to this guy’s house while our guide continued with the drunk company to the village healer (they decided to take him there and wouldn’t take no for an answer).

I must say, the house we went into was really nice. It looked like your regular village dwelling from outside, but inside it had all the modern conveniences combined with a somewhat artistically decorated interior. I figured the guy must be an artist, even though he didn’t confess. His family is still back in Fresno, and he just travels back and forth as he pleases (nice, isn’t it?). At his house we finally shook off the dust and dirt, changed our clothes and washed up a bit. I though our troubles were over, when our guide arrived with a freshly bandaged arm. We called a taxi and were waiting for it to arrive, sipping some juice on the patio with an unbelievably nice view, when our torturers arrived again. One of the brothers decided to pay a neighborly visit, accompanied by his son-in-law. We tried to escape into the orchards and leave them talking with our host, but the younger guy followed us. Next I knew, he took Vicky somewhere to “show her the view”, and they disappeared into the shrubbery before I could put a word in. Soon I got worried and started looking for Vicky. I couldn’t find her, but instead I found the two wives pacing the road before the gate of the house. The moment I mentioned someone is "showing the view" to my daughter, the younger girl shrieked “I knew it” and ran into the bushes. She had no problem finding her way around, because a few minutes later I heard screaming and yelling and then Vicky finally showed up, all upset. Apparently, the guy was harassing her, and she was trying to call me, but I couldn’t hear her. We had a juicy, loud village scandal on our hands. The neighborhood gossips waited until they heard everything there was to hear, then commenced to carry the news from group to group down the street, while we finally loaded into our taxi and left the hospitable village…

After which Vicky refused to leave the house for two weeks.

If it wasn’t for the fact that “vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”, I would have gone back and kicked some butt. Thanks a lot to you, people of Garni, for making it so easy to help my kids like our home country!

Things of the past

It’s amazing, what you can find in a house that was built 66 years ago and never changed owners. A lot of old things, of course, were replaced over the years with new ones, but little bits and pieces of the past surface every now and then, like reminders of times past.

My grandpa’s shopping bag, for example. It looks like a piece of fisherman’s net with two handles attached. These things probably had some nice formal name, but the common name for them in Russian was “what ifs”. As in, “what if I see something I need in the store today.“ There what ifs could easily fit into one’s pocket or purse and were always there in case something unexpected was being sold somewhere. In Soviet times, it wasn’t a matter of simply going to a store and buying what you want. Certain luxuries, like good sausage, imported shoes, oranges, quality pantyhose, etc. could appear suddenly and in a limited quantities, generating long queues and unhealthy hustle and bustle. Phrases like “one pair per person only” and “you weren’t standing here before” belong to the same time period…

Then, there is my grandpa’s “onion watch” - one you wear at your belt on a chain, a green felt hat and a walking stick. There are brass door handles and cast-iron bars over the ventilation holes in the kitchen. A silver-backed great-grandmother’s mirror. There is a Russian-Armenian dictionary, printed in 1903 (Roxy dubbed it “the Harry Potter book”), a book of Psalms from 1923 and a Housekeeping Encyclopedia from 1957 (my personal favorite advice in it - what kind of soap to use for your hair. It was before the shampoos, you see).

Cool, isn’t it?

Saturday, July 22, 2006


sorry about the delay. for those of you who care, mom will hopefully soon post a full account of our rather interesting hiking trip. she's still "digesting the events, so it might be a bit before she writes about it. she seeing all the events from differet perspectives, if you know what i mean. that's all. we're still cleaning the house and redecorating. and a sketcher's store opened here apparently. i was reading another blog page, and there was a funny post about a guy who saw a sign for a new store soon to be opened that read, "dollar store, everything $1.88." Odd, huh. well, recently, they changed the sign to "everything 800 drams." a little better. drams are the armenian currency for those of you who don't know. hope to write somethinginteresting soon.

Monday, July 17, 2006



The day before yesterday, we set out on a three day hike with a family friend as our guide. It was an interesting trip. To begin with, we each had a huge back back. One of those typical hiking packs. We all headed for the van that was going to take us there on Saturday. We all had to squeeze in there with what seemed like a million other people. There were people standing up (me being one of them), sitting, and some sticking there butts out of the window. Plus, there was a group of annoying armo guys and girls sitting in the van, being loud and obnoxious. I should say before hand that I have a tendency of accidentally dropping my gum out of my mouth while I‘m talking. Well, while we were in the car, I was chewing and talking.. And, well, I dropped the gum on our friend’s arm. He said, “thank you” amidst my mom and vicky laughing. Embarrassing. Well, we hiked a bunch. a lot. And we caught a huge caterpillar about as big as my middle finger except a bit fatter and longer. And we saw a huge grasshopper. And los of bugs. And more hiking. Vicky swore many times that she was going to kill mom. Lots of stuff happened. Drunk people visiting our camp. Drunk people making moves on vicky… 46 year old drunk married people with kids making moves on vicky. A scandal resulting in crying and anger. Swimming in a waterfall. A broken arm. Lots of drama and excitement. And lots of hiking. Read a full account on moms post soon to come. The caterpillar is now in the process of becoming a butterfly. And we are still getting over the affair we had involving a bunch of jerks. Its like Jerry Springer Show all over again. Well, read all about it later. Its quite interesting.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Tomorrow I am taking Vicky and Roxy to their VERY FIRST REAL HIKING TRIP!!!!!
The kind where you walk-walk-walk for 3 days... Expect reports shortly. This is gonna be fun!

"Do I have to come?" says Vicky.
Well, stay tuned...

Monday, July 10, 2006


We went on a trip today with my grandpa and his friend. It was like a paid trip where you sit on a bus with other people and you all go to the same place. There were mostly grandmas on that trip. But they were violent! When it was time to board the bus, my grandpa told us to go in quick and get a good seat near the front. But those grandmas all pushed their way to the door and we couldn’t get in till all the good seats were taken. Vicky and I ended up sitting at the very end of the bus. And my mo sat in seat in front of us. Quality seating, ehh? But it was very pretty. We hiked, and ate, and caught a dung beetle, and saw frogs in the water and stopped by Sevan Lake. We also looked at an old church and place where monks used to eat and cook. It looked like a restaurant that consisted of stone tables with tree trunks as chairs. Of course, on the way there and back, music was turned on so the ladies got up and started dancing in the bus. And there was a young couple sitting next to us, getting a little close….and then they started singing. Vicky and I played Egyptian rat (very fun) and Vicky won, 8 to 6. And on the way back, we looked out the back window and started waving to random people. Some guys waved at us, some blew kisses, and some gestured for us to go to them, like we’re gonna fly through the window, right? Then I made a dazed and confused look, and stared at people. Also fun. Plus, my mom made me a wreath of daises which I wore for a while, but soon it wilted. Did I mention Vicky and I shot hilarious videos with my mom’s camera? Well, it was a fun day. That’s all.


We went shopping at an outdoor bazaar today. Those people practically start measuring produce for you before you even say you want it. They are so eager to sell their stuff. As you pass by them, they say, tell me what you want. Like we want something. And there are some that comment on us in their funny dialect. Mostly about how young mom looks. Well, yeah that’s about it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


iIwent to a place called the "canyon" with my mom a few days ago. It was fun, but then I had to go the bathroom. You know, there are no toilets there? Only ceramic holes in the ground. Not fun at all. Then this guy tried to "pick us up". It was funny. I saw frogs and a preying mantis and some other stuff. Then came the stairs. To get back to the city, we had to climb out of the canyon using a loooong staircase. Ya know, like the one in The Lord Of the Rings, Return of the King, except not quite as steep. But it was long and hard. Well, yeah. oh, and our record player works now so we are having fun listening to beatles records. And the kitchen is being painted. that's all.