I saw a jackal last week. He or she also saw me and didn’t stick around. I glimpsed a woodpecker-the first I have seen here or anywhere else in the world. I picked some wildflowers that are new to me.– along with some old favorites. Life in Armenia continues to thrill and delight in small ways— a novelty to brighten almost every day of my second year here. Now household and community activities that seemed so strange a year ago have become routine and familiar, it’s a boon that there is a new layer of life to notice and explore.
I wasn’t really expecting this, and had braced myself for ennui that has yet to strike. I am calmer and more settled now than I was a year ago of course. It is easier notice the little things when you are not struggling for a word, defending against digestive disaster, and wondering why everyone is staring. And now I know people who can tell me or show me what they know and love, letting me be part of it too.
This is how I found a new cafe in Goris—Cafe Tur Baza .
I last walked past this cafe in the winter when it was closed and, in as much as I thought about it at all, I thought it was out of business, and never likely to open again. Certainly from the street the sign looks overgrown and the site derelict. But the other day Ara suggested we go there for a cup of mint tea. Oh, untold delight. The cafe has a beautiful garden, friendly staff and the most glorious view of Old Goris. Had you asked me, I would have said there was nowhere in Goris I had not thoroughly explored. The discovery of a new haunt is thrilling.
Back at the cafe today I ordered an Ajarakan khachapuri, another first. This turns out to be bread dough filled with two just-baked eggs, dominos of butter and fresh herbs. To hell with the arteries– I ate it all.
When I first arrived in Armenia–and even in Goris–I saw ugliness everywhere–scrap metal cars abandoned in hedgerows, cinder-block buildings half-finished, and trash dumped by the side of the road–weeds growing between broken paving stones. Those things are still there of course, but my lens has softened. Now I see the beauty of the green fields off-setting the blue of the mountains on a village road I hadn’t traveled until today. I admire the cherries in picture-book bunches piled high in the shops, and eat a kilo at every sitting. I am pleased to discover that the Armenian word for gossip is onomatopoeic–bambasank. Բամբասանք.
In the last week I have been hugged by more kids than a department store Santa, and have found myself singing Queen’s We Will Rock You in support of an English teacher who is determined to make her kids speak rather than just read and write English. Gayane has decided Rock Anthems are the way forward. I am suddenly in demand for English language lessons that invite children to sit under the table or stand on the chair to practice use of prepositions. And you thought a revolution was the only thing to happen here in the last month? For all of us, life is good and getting better.