Being a member of the Peace Corps means that you must like to hike. The further you like to hike the better a Peace Corps volunteer you are, or so seems to be the case. I like to hike. I’d give hiking a solid 7 on a scale of 1-10. It’s good exercise and sometimes the view you get is incredible. Having been in the Peace Corps for about a month now, I have been on a good number of hikes, but nothing compares to the hike a few of us took last week.
On a random Weekday, I lose track of what the days are since we don’t really have a weekend to look forward to, I got a call from Mike wanting to know if I wanted to go on a 20-10 minute hike. Sure Mike I said “shat Lav” (that is good). Mike informed me that his host brother Vaspor would be showing us the way, even better I thought, I am sure he will know the best path to take.
So Mike, Vaspor, Meag, Genya and I set out. Our goal was to reach the village teranik. As we approach the hill I ask Vaspor to point out Teranik to me. So he points to a little speckle of a town that looks to be a two days hike away. So I ask Vaspor once again how long will it take us. “Oh fifteen twenty minutes” he says, “I know a shortcut”. I look at him doubtfully and am immediately chided by Michael, something to the effect of come on princess if Vaspor says he knows a shortcut I believe him.
So we began our hike, following a semi-nice, and really nice by Armenian standards, path. We are having a great time talking, seeing the sights, and getting a good uphill workout, when all of a sudden vaspor walks into the brush, away from the path, into weeds that basically go up to my hip. “Are you sure we shouldn’t just follow the path Vaspor?” I ask, and to be honest I know I used my attitudinal princess voice. I mean weeds that go up to my hip and I am wearing shorts!! “No this is much shorter way” he answers. Great!
So we hike, and hike and hike, and about an hour goes by. I try not to complain, because it’s actually not so bad. Even though my legs itch from the brush that has now reached my stomach, my legs are muddy and itchy, and I ran out of water a long time ago, I am happy. The sights are beautiful, you may have seen the pictures I posted last week on facebook, it doesn’t even compare to what the eye saw. So everything is fine until my group decides that the village is close and we must run. I take off along with them into a jog, not able to see my foot or where it is landing and about three or four strides in, I twist my ankle. It freakn hurt. I wanted to quit. I wanted to sit down. I wanted to be carried! But what could I do? I had to walk on… Needless to say our 20 minute hike turned into an hour and thirty minutes and finally we reached our destination.
Even though I was a bit miserable, and I prolly would have never done that in the U.S., actually I know I wouldn’t, when Tommy tried to make me hike off path in the Sequoias I threw a tantrum, it ended up being a good experience and I even found Strawberry Ice cream, one of the major things I have been missing! On the way back I told Vaspor that my ankle hurt really badly so I couldn’t take the crazy path with all the big rocks, and the incline, so I asked if we could just take the path. “that a good idea” he said. So we went along the path that leads from Terenik to Alapars and 45 minutes later we were home. Major lesson learned, Armenians barely ever leave their village, let alone go hiking; therefore one should never take an Armenian short cut that is not within his own village! At least I feel like an official Peace Corps Volunteer now!