Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jack Baby

This is my new puppy jack! This weekend I was taking a mid day nap and my little brother vahang came into my room and plopped a puppy onto me. I wake up and its looking me in the eye terrified. I pick it up and fleas are crawling everywhere! I rush to take it outside where my family is waiting for me, all looking at me with huge smiles. I look back at that like what the hell is going on. My tatik, who is the only one who looks angry, tells me my papik bought the dog for me. He paid 1,000 dram she says. I show them that the dog has bugs. Then don’t look worried, but I am disgusted and don’t even want to touch the fur ball.
My brother comes out with a big bucket some soap and some water he has boiled. He mixes the water with cold water and throws the dog in the bucket. He begins to scrub her. I sit and watch perplexed. I mean washing the dog isn’t going to kill the fleas… My host dad was an vet in the early stages of his life, I mean sure he worked with cows, but shouldn’t he know what a flea is? As the dog is being washed you see the bugs just clinging to her, there must have been at least50 of them. We begin to comb through them and kill them one by one, me, my brother and my host dad. An hour later we are still killing them off. I resign as my brother takes out the blow dryer to dry the dog. I come back an hour later hoping that they are done, they are still killing off bugs. Three hours it took, and I was really skeptical, but she really doesn’t have fleas anymore. I check everyday, and none! I guess you don’t always need that expensive medicine. After the huge ordeal the puppy looks a lot better, but is completely terrified. She refuses to look at people and if you put him on the ground she runs to the nearest hiding spot. Its been three days and this is still his basic mentality.
Where ever he was before, he had to have been abused, because he really doesn’t like to even be held much, the only time he lets me hold him is if he hears another member of my family coming for him. I am the only one he will let feed him or get near him, but to be honest he is still terrified of me. I feel really bad for him, but the truth is I really didn’t want a dog here. Lucca was a lot of work back home; I could never just pick up and leave because I had her to worry about. So although I think it’s really sweet that they brought him back for me, I really don’t want him to be my dog. I have been making him sleep with my brother at night and not me, so that my brother gets the attachment to him. My Tatik tried to tell me that in two years I can take him to America, and I had to explain that I can’t the US won’t let me. They even let me give him an American name. I wanted to name him Reeses but my family couldn’t say that, nor could they say the other 4 suggestions I gave them, so I named him Jack. Now I am stressed out about what will happen to the dog when I leave. But for now, he is fun to get hugs from and makes it exciting to come home.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tea parties galore!

Armenians are known for their generous hospitality just as Southerners are supposed to be known for theirs. The difference is, while I have met tons of charming Southerners, they don’t seem to be any more hospitable nor gentlemanly than any other American. In fact I’d dare say the southern men I have met are the least gentlemanly people I have ever known! For example once when getting a classroom prepared, our group had to move a bunch of tables and chairs from one room to another. So guys and girls alike all rushed to help out. Girls began to grab the chairs, while most MEN began to grab the tables. It came down to a situation where there were two girls and one guy left, a so-called southern gentleman, and one desk and two chairs. The other girl grabbed a chair, and the guy grabbed the other chair, leaving me drag the table by myself. He saw me pick it up and struggle with it and never once offered to trade or help…
I bring this up for two reasons: 1. it really annoyed me! I hate when men are un-chivalrous and 2. To prove to you just what a sham the south is in their claim of hospitality and chivalry.
So every day I have a tutoring lesson and every day it is turned into a tea and snack gathering because my tutor’s host mom cannot stand to have me in her home and not feed me, so Bon chics are bought and eaten and tea or hot chocolate is made, no matter how I try to refuse it. Well one day after a particularly heavy meal at my tutor’s house I was walking home, tired, hot and just wanting to take a nap. I was barely looking where I was going when I ran into a women who I know I knew, I just didn’t remember where I knew her from.
Hello Alyssa Jan, where are you going?
I am going home.
Ah but you live so far, you must have a rest. Come my house is just over here, come have some tea.
Oh I can’t I am very tired…
No you must come, let’s go.
So this woman led me to her house, where as soon as her parents saw me they sprang into action, making tea, preparing dishes of ice cream, and cleaning up a bit. I sat down with my translation book in hand and talked to the woman about school starting and whether I like Spitak or not. Tea was brought to us, with sugar, honey and the ever present candy dish. The women looked at the dish, and shook her head. No not this candy, bring the Grand Candy. Grand Candy is the big sweets factory here; I’d say it’s the equal to See’s candy in the US. Which also means that it’s the most expensive candy here. A new candy dish was brought in followed by a dish of hajapori and watermelon. Eat eat! Demanded my hostess. I ate and drank tea in the 90 degree weather and did my best to provide interesting conversation. When I was ready to go my hostess walked me out and lead me to the right path toward home. I begin to walk again, dying of heat and super full and tired. I can barely wait to plop down in bed, and am hoping to have at least a twenty minute rest without disturbance. As I approach a hill, I hear my name called out. I see a teacher that works at my school with her two young daughters struggling to catch up with me. I stopped and waited for them, even though I kind of wished I could just go.
Alyssa jan, where are you going?
I am going home
Where were you now?
I have my Armenian lesson
You must come have tea with us. We just bought a watermelon, come have some.
I stood their wanting to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t, but my brain wasn’t working so I had to go.
I followed them up the hill and to their house, the whole time the little girls watching me when they thought I wouldn’t see. When I arrive at the house I am met by a tatik who cries out awe Americatzi! And hugs me! Ughh thanks. I am lead into the kitchen where a little one year old boy is sitting and waiting. Ahh ahh he begins to yell his big brown eyes widening as he sees the watermelon taken out of the bag. He tries to grab for it and his mom takes his hand and kisses it. He begins to reach out to bite it, and his mom laughs. Alberto loves watermelon, she tells me, as she cuts him off his own piece to eat and tells him to go outside and eat it. The two little girls come in and sit with me. I offer up conversation.
How old are you?
I am 6 and my sister is 4.
What are your names?
I am lilit and she is ___________ ( I don’t remember the other ones name).
Do you go to school?
No. Maaam I want ice cream….
The mom tells the girls to set the table handing them lil plates and she prepares both tea and coffee.
Would you like some eggs, she asks me. Oh no I am not hungry, thank you.
She leads me from the kitchen to the dinning room and tells me to sit. I sit down and both little girls follow and sit with me. Tea and coffee are brought out as well as watermelon, cakes,candy, ice cream and bread and honey. As we eat, we talk a little bit about school and about my time in Armenia. She asks about when I am going to get married. You are very good with children she says, you need to have some. I assure her that I plan on it, when I go back to America. She asks me what I like to do. I tell her I like to run, and read, and play a game called scrabble, and go swimming at the beach when I am in America.
Mom, says the little girl
Jan, says the mom
I want to read with her, says the little girl
The mom smiles, well she reads in English, it might be hard for you to understand.
Yes Jan.
I want to go running with her
We both laugh
Well she is bigger than you so I don’t know if you can go with her. Maybe when we are done we will walk with her a bit.
Ok mom.
Yes Jan.
Can I go home with her and play?
Another time Jan.
As I finish up my tea the little girl goes to her mom and whispers in her ear. The mom, nods her head yes. And out the girls go! I tell my hostess that I must be going home; she gets a bag and stuffs some little cakes in it for me to take with me, for the road she says.
As we walk down the stairs, I see the little girls in the garden picking flowers. The little boy sees me and runs to me, flower in hand. The mom takes the flowers from the girls and cuts the dirty stems off. Now both girls reach for the one bouquet. I want to, I want to they both yell. The older girl concedes to the little one with a pout on her face, and she brings the flowers to me shyly. I tell them thank you and we take a picture together. We walk back down the hill me, hand in hand with the little girls. The drop me off at the base with hugs and kisses and promises that next time I will bring my coloring book and we will color together. Then it is back up another hill and home for me. All the Armenian hospitality has warn me out!

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's a bat!

I learned so much today just by leaving the comfort of my bedroom and helping… uhem ok well more like watching my family do their nightly chores. Usually after diner I clean the table and help wash the dishes but when that is over, my family scatters about each to do some kind of chore. I always feel so useless so while they work I go into my room and read or facebook.
Well tonight I went on a late run and when I came back I decided to sit outside and watch the sunset. I am often amazed at how beautiful it is here, I feel like I am walking straight into a painting. I just couldn’t bring myself to waste the night away inside my room.
As I was sitting outside all red faced and out of breath, my host mom began to bring huge glass jars outside. Then a large bowl of black berries. “Hamar compote” for juice she tells me. Only juice, not maraba I ask. She laughs at me “misht maraba maraba maraba” Always maraba. I am obsessed with maraba and eat it like five times a day with bread!! During the summer my family, as well as most other Armenian families make preserves for the winter, when there will not be any fresh vegetables or fruits. So they make jam, maraba, juice, pickled vegetables, tomato pastes and who knows what else, that will be eaten in the winter.
She washes the black berries and pours them into the large jars. Then she comes out with a huge bag of sugar. She adds a cup and a half of sugar to each jar! That is a lot of sugar I say. She laughs, yes but it is very delicious… hum that is what she said about cow lungs!! I don’t know if I trust her definition of delicious. She explains to me that after she fills it with water she will boil it on the fire for 20 minutes and then store it away. I help her fill the jars with water and put lids on them. We then carry them over to a huge fire and a big witches brew pot. My tatik arrives with an arm full of twigs. She shows me where they are and I go and get more. Somehow with her bare hands she lifts the lid of the bowling pot up and we place the huge jars inside.
On to the next batch, this time plums!!! In America I was never a fan of plumbs. Actually I wasn’t a fan of most fruit. So I was a little bit skeptical when my tatik reached into the large bowl of plumbs and pulled one out for me. Eat it she said, pretty much her favorite command to give me. So I do, hesitantly. It is the most delicious fruit I have ever eaten. Do you like it? Yes, very much. She finds me another, as I throw my seed to the chickens. I eat it happily. We begin the same process for the plumb juice. She tells me which jars to put which plumbs in, some sweet, some sour, and of course I take some for myself and she laughs.
We sit near the fire for awhile, as it is freezing in Spitak lately! Then the cow man comes with everyone’s cows. As he leads them in a line down the main street, each cow separates from the group as it sees its home. My mom looks up and sees this parade and yells for Moralli, our cow. Moralli comes running but stops where her baby is chained. Papik then goes out and gathers baby cow Victoria and leads her to the barn and Moralli follows behind. I had no idea that this happened every night! I always see cow man when I am walking in the morning, but I didn’t know he took care of our cow too!
In the bar baby Victoria and Mama Moralli go and my host mom goes to milk the cow. I follow her and my papik in. She ties the cow’s tail to its leg, I guess so it doesn’t hit her. The cow moves into its position but puts its head near its baby. The baby gets scared, my host mom says, so Moralli puts her head on her to tell her it’s ok. It is seriously one of the cutest things I have ever seen! As my mom milks the cow my papik points to a nest up in the rafters. As he is trying to explain something to me I see something flying at me super fast. I take off running outside screaming bat, bat!! Why I am afraid, I have no idea. Before I left for Armenia, I was obsessed with bats! I think they are adorable, like little ugly puppies with wings. But I guess I am all talk because when I saw it coming toward me I ran like a little girl screaming. As soon as I was out of “danger” I stopped in my tracks and began to giggle. My papik sticks his head out of the barn and asks me what I am afraid of. The bats I say. Bats? He asks. What bats? That was a bird. Come look. I go in to the barn, red faced; feeling pretty silly and my papik once again shows me the nest. Oh yeah I think, bats don’t live in nests!!! As we are looking a baby bird flies from the side window into the nest and then out the front door. This is followed by more birds doing the same. There are five of them, my papik tells me. There mom made a nest here and in the spring they were born and she taught them to fly. Maybe next month they will leave because it is too cold here, but then next spring the mom will be back. He told me that when we leave and turn off the light they will all go to sleep. As we left the barn my tatik came to me and pointed into the sky. See the birds she told me, watch they will go to their home. Sure enough as I watched they circled the barn until papik shut the light off and closed the door and they flew home.
Even though I didn’t really help much, I really felt like my family enjoyed having me around while they did their chores. We laughed a lot, ok well they laughed at me a lot, especially when I was running away from a bat that didn’t exists! In the past few weeks, I have learned so much about farm life, which is amazing considering how little of the language I speak. I have learned how to make cheese, what chickens eat, and how and where they lay eggs, how butter is made, how to make juice, how to know when potatoes are ready to be picked, how to live with a thousand flies bugging you all the time, how to make pickles, and how to make hamburger meat. Hopefully soon I will also learn how to make maraba, bread, homemade cake, popoke maraba, how to milk a cow, how to plant vegetables, and know when they will be ready, and how to properly kill the chickens, de-feather it and eat it! Haha just kidding, but whether I want to learn it or not, they will probably teach me. I am learning so much here, and every day I have new reasons to be amazed and thankful to God for giving me this time to be here. I can think of nothing more amazing then one day living on my own farm in America and having the quiet peaceful, busy life they live here. To grow your own food, and raise your own animals, and work together as a family is such a breath of fresh air from the life I had before. Not sure if I can ever live in that old life again…

Monday, August 23, 2010


So a few nights ago I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and stumbled upon a huge bowl of cow’s legs. Yes you read that right, cow’s legs, 4 of them, in a huge bowl of water. Now add to your disgust right now, my being groggy and barely awake, and you have complete horrification. Not only was the sight terrifying, but the smell was horrible!!!
I went back to bed and a thought occurred to me, omg does this mean we are having Khash!?!!?

Flashback to me sitting in my Armenian class reading an excerpt from a book on Armenian culture. Nose scrunched up as I read the words describing the cow’s feet and stomach boiling in water overnight to make a pungent broth which leaves it’s sent for days. I was disgusted as I read that the cow’s feat fall apart in the soup and the cartilage meat rips right off the bone. Later after the soup is prepared you can add an assortment of flavors to it, to increase the flavor, such as garlic, lemon, greens, and of course the Armenian stable Levash.

The next morning I woke up and searched everywhere for the cow’s feat, they were nowhere to be seen! Phew! Sold! Fantastic, dodged that bullet! Nothing was said of the holy Khash the whole day so I figured I didn’t need to worry about it…. Untill the next day at dinner time. By this time the idea of Khash was completely forgotten, so it took me by complete surprise when my host mom says to me “Alissia, tomorrow morning we will have people over and we will eat Khash, its…” Me: wait Khash? “Ayo, it’s shat Homove Armenian dish” Very delicious? Cows feat? “Ayo, you will like it” Great……….God only knows where those cows feet were hiding the day before when I was looking for them!

So that night I set my alarm for 7 A.M., I don’t want to miss a minute of the Khash preparations and my host mom said we would be eating early. So I wake up, and not a single person in the house is awake, but I do see a huge pot on the stove. I slowly lift the lid and the most repulsive smell greats me from within. Gross, I drop the lid and go back to bed. At nine I hear some shuffling around in the kitchen. So I get up and go out to observe. Not much being done, just setting the table. I wait. 30 minutes later and still nothing. Turns out there really isn’t anything to do, the feet are cooked only in water, so they really have nothing to prepare. I am a little disappointed. Guests arrive, and it’s time to eat!

Now I have been here for only a few weeks, but I feel like I know a large part of my family’s extended family. But on this day I didn’t know a single guest besides my aunt and her family. It really was the A list of my family’s friends. As people begin to take their places at the tables, I stand back and wait, not wanting to sit in the wrong place. I am called to sit at the head of the table. Great, I smile, lips pursed together. When everyone is seated, they immediately begin to make preparations for their Khash, tearing up pieces of Levash and dumping into their bowls. I sit there and stare at my bowl, not sure where to even being. I see people take their spoon and pull out huge joints from their bowl and put it on their plate. I still sit and stare. Once everyone seemingly has made their own preparations, their eyes turn to me. Everyone wants to witness my first bite, to make sure I enjoy it as much as they do. Now I am panicked! This is too much for me I say. Usually this is followed by a chorus of eat, eats! But this time my host mom comes out with a smaller bowl; I understand that it’s important not to waste a single drop of Khash.

Again eyes are on me. I add some salt to my dish, say a prayer and down the hatch it goes… well the broth anyways. I nod my head in approval and say not bad. They all laugh; I’ve always had a face that is 100 percent readable. I’m sure they could tell I didn’t like it. It tasted like salty water with a hint of garlic, not exactly good, but not disgusting either. I tear up my levash and add it to the bowl as they all have. It soaks up the broth and I slowly take a few bites. While I don’t find it to be disgusting or make me gag like I thought it would, I don’t particularly enjoy it either. Thank God for the always present tomatoes and cucumbers on the table, which I eat in between bites to help the soup go down.

Soon there is no more broth in the bowl, only my small cow’s foot joint and a piece of cow’s stomach. Great. Toasts are being given and shots are being taken. I grow some Liquid courage. I wrap a piece of stomach inside the levash and take a bite. First bite all levash, phew, not so bad. Second bite; not so lucky. I bite hard and seesaw it in my teeth to cut it off. It’s rubbery and hard to chew, like a huge piece of fat on a really cheap piece of steak. The fat on steaks has always made me feel sick. I get the chills, but force myself to chew. It’s not so bad, it’s not so bad, it’s not so bad I tell myself as I chew, trying not to actually taste it. Eventually it’s unavoidable and I do taste it, and guess what, it’s actually not so bad. I hurriedly stuff the rest into my mouth and drown it with a shot of vodka. Lav E I say. Everyone laughs again but this time I don’t care because I am done! I have accomplished my task! I take a look around the room; everyone is eating, drinking, laughing and having such a good time. I guess this is really what Khash is about, and suddenly I remember the book talking about the deep traditions and cultural customs that make a Khash worth attending. I seemed to have forgotten about that part in Lieu of the talk of cow’s feet and stomach. I guess what I am saying is that sometimes in life you miss out on really amazing things because you’re too afraid to suck down the cow’s feet and if you don’t get past the bad, you won’t experience the good.

Friday, August 20, 2010

No title could fit this post

So there is a blog that I have needed to write for the past week but have been putting it off because I don’t know what the right thing to say is. But I do know that I have to tell the truth and I have to tell my story. I believe that it’s an important part of my journey and I believe it’s even more important for any future PCV’s out there to know that along with the good comes some bad.
So a short disclaimer that you must know before you read on. First of all I am absolutely fine, in every way possible. Secondly, what happened to me could happen anywhere in the world, and is more likely to happen in the US than where I am. There are freaks and jerks everywhere in the world and this post in no way reflects the Armenian people or my city.
So last Sunday morning, I woke up early and decided that I needed to get out of the house. I do not start teaching until September so I have had a lot of down time. I try to fill up my days as best as I can. I go running, I go to tutoring, I have tea and lunch with the family, and I read, read, read. But for a long time I have been wanting to go and take some pictures of these ruins that are on top of a hill at the end of the road I go running on. There are also tons of things to take pictures of a long the way. Plus I don’t tutor on Sundays, so I figured I could have a little adventure.
So I walked down the road and took pictures of anything interesting I saw. I took a picture of a house with a lot of sunflower in the yard. A little boy stood there and watched me, and then began to scream to his mother that an American something was taking pictures of the house. I took off fast, didn’t want to get in trouble. After about a 30-45 minute walk, I arrived at the perfect spot!
Green hills everywhere with little yellow and purple flowers and thistles. A small house encompassed by mountains on both sides, and behind it a little ways up a hill, ruins of some buildings that were damaged in the earthquake. I walked about 30 minutes off the main road to the first set of ruins where I stopped and took pictures that overlooked all of Spitak. It was beautiful, and I was proud of myself for getting out of the house and doing something. There was one more old building just above the first one, so I decided to go up there for another set of pictures to show everyone at home. While I was up there I debated going up on a full scale climb. I began to walk upwards, and I almost stepped into a huge spider web. Luckily I saw them before I stepped into it! I decided that these spiders were freaken huge and people back home needed to see them. As I knelt down to take the pictures, I had a horrible feeling that I should go home. I thought to myself, self you are being silly, they are just spiders, you are not afraid of spiders. And yet I felt very afraid for some reason. After trying repeatedly to get the picture and having it come out horrible, I gave up and felt a need to get home. I began to walk downward and I saw a man coming toward me. He began to yell at me but I didn’t understand what he was saying. My first thought was maybe I was somewhere I was not supposed to be and I needed to leave. So I told him I am leaving. He was still coming at me so I stopped and waited. Next I thought maybe he was the owner of the house I took a picture of and maybe he wanted to know why I took the picture.
He approached me. His face was dirty, and the sun damage to his skin made him appear older from far away than his actual 25 or 26 years. He began to speak to me. Chem Haska, I don’t understand, I said. He tried again. I repeated and asked if there was a problem. He said no. He asked me where I lived and I pointed to it below. He asked where I was from and I told him California. He asked how old I was so I told him 26. He asked If I was married and I told him no. Then he began to say something to me about work, or so I thought I heard. I told him I was a teacher but he only shook his head no. He said something about pictures. I told him I didn’t understand. I told him I don’t speak Armenian well. He kept talking and I told him I’m sorry I just don’t understand and I need to go home. He told me no. He said ari- and I said no I can’t. I began to feel very uncomfortable. He walked over to me and began walking with me and asked me if I wanted to come to his village. I said no I couldn't. He said he would take me. I told him my family was waiting for me. He began to talk to me very quickly, I didn't understand anything. I told him that and I told him I was leaving. He stood in front of me so I tried to walk around him. Then he grabbed my arms, near my shoulders. I thought maybe he was trying to get some point across to me, trying to tell me something that I didn't understand but he grabbed me hard and was hurting me so I pushed him and told him to go away. I took off running a bit, not really sure what was happening, so confused as to what this guy wanted. He came in front of me again and grabbed my breasts. He wouldn't let me go. I began to cry and I told him I am afraid in Armenian and that I wanted to go, but he wouldn't let me go. I screamed at him no and tried to get away, but he threw me to the floor. I remember nothing, just fear, just hurt, just panic. I began to scream at him in English at the top of my lungs. I screamed in a different way than I have ever heard myself before, never had I heard so much fear in my own voice. God please help me, please. So I began throwing my hands and hitting him. When I was free I took off running again as fast as I could. I didn’t look back this time until I was all the way down the hill and about a mile back down the road. I ran faster than I ever ran before, I could hear his footsteps trail me for a bit and then die away, yet I still ran. I couldn't stop, even when I knew I was safe. I just kept thinking who do I call, what do I do, what just happened? The person I wanted to call, I couldn’t, or I didn’t feel I could. So I ran until I couldn’t breathe. Hysterically in tears and out of breath I called my friend Greg. What I said to him, or how on earth he understood me will always be a mystery to both of us. I don’t really remember a world of the conversation to be honest. I think I went into shock. I couldn’t remember where I was. And then Peace Corps called me, and snapped me back into my senses and talked me through things. Thank God that Greg was there for me, that he is a friend that I can turn to, because I don’t think I would have found the courage to call the Peace Corps and get help without him.

In closing, I am fine now; mostly it feels like it was just a bad dream. The only residual from the attack is fear. I am defiantly more hesitant to go to the store alone or to be alone at all for that matter. Little things have been scaring me or causing me to have flashbacks, from a friend grabbing my arm to lead me across the street, to the power going out in the middle of the night and me having a meltdown over it. I have bad dreams, where I see the guys face, and his crooked teeth and his dirty hands. But I think all of this is natural and will go away with time.
All that being said I will be fine. The hardest part is not that it happened, that is hard in its own way but at least it’s over; it was that I had no one to go home to and hug and to tell me it would be all right. It’s hard not to have people in my town that I can turn to when something like this happens. I think the hardest part of my service here is going to be living in Spitak alone without other Americans. I am very lucky that PC allowed me to go see Ashley yesterday, it did me a world of good to get out of here for a bit and just hang out and kick her butt at scrabble. Just to have a hug and be told that everything would be fine, meant the world to me. I’ll say it again, I am so lucky to have made the friends I have made here. Greg and Ash have been amazing support for me, so please no one at home be worried. Love you all!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What makes a family?

A message from my Armenian Family…

Host sister: Hi Alyssa Jan, we miss you a lot. Your room is empty and every time it seems that you should come home from school. We were just talking about you. We always remember you. Garik is good, he is not allowed to come home but he called a week ago and was asking about you. He also misses you a lot =)
Me: I will come visit next month. Tell Garik I miss him as well and hope he is well and that hopefully Ill see him soon!
HS: We would be so happy. We will cook you a good dinner. Maybe Garik could get permission to come home for a night for dinner. He will try his best.
Me: That would be awesome!
HS: Nice! I love you and miss you a lot sister!
Me: I love you too sister =)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tatiki het

My tatik is one of my favorite people in Armenia. We had a bad few days when she kept calling me fat, but as it turns out fat is a compliment here. To them it means that I am healthy and eating well. I think that the Peace Corps needs to add it to their host family training that it is never ok to call and American girl fat. That may be the cause of years of bulimia right there!! I knew she was just being crazy when after a few days of running; obviously I started again as soon as I heard her say that, she told me she didn’t want me to run because I was getting too skinny! In the matter of two or three days I went from being too fat to too skinny. I don’t want your family back home to think we don’t feed you, she told me. Which is funny because according to her I am either going to stay here forever and marry a nice Armenian boy, preferably one of her nephews, or she is coming to California with me and will marry an American man, mind you she is already married! The above picture of her is after a long day of scrubbing walls and re-painting.

Often when I am in my room with my door open or out on the sofa reading, Tatik will come and sit by me and relax. She always complains, I am so tired Alyssa Jan, too much work to do, always tired. I always tell her I am sorry and it’s such a pitty but it’s almost done. On this day she came in and saw my sunglasses and wanted to see how they looked on me. So I showed her. She then wanted to see how they looked on her. So I took a picture! She says they look better on me, but I don’t know, she is looking pretty bad ass in this picture don’t you think?


This is my Armenian Tutor Lili. She speaks English better than any other Armenian I have met. She even understands a lot of slang. She is the daughter of the Armenian teach at my school. Lili is a very open and honest person. Within the first minutes of meeting her she told me, I like you, you have pretty eyes and girls with your kind of eyes are always good people. I can tell that we will be great friends. She is also very bossy. She not only tells me what I need to study, but the other day she called me to tell me that the time we were meeting was not good for ME! Alice jan (for some reason everyone here calls me Alice) what time are you coming tomorrow? Well Lili I thought that we decided 5, is that a problem now? Well Alyssa Jan, not for me, it is all the same for me, but I notice later in the evening you are tired and do not learn as well. From now on you will have to come earlier because I can’t have you be tired at my lessons. Ok Lili, not problem.

Lili lives in Yerevan where she is getting a second degree. She already has one in English but now she wants one in administration. She is only in Spitak for her break, which means by the end of the month I will need a new tutor. I am really upset about this because for one, Lilis mom feeds me really well, and I really do have a lot of fun distracting Lili from our lesson and talking about life. It is awesome to be able to speak in English with someone here. Today when we were walking around trying to find the right bank we saw some men speaking English. I was so excited I lost my mind, I ran over to them and said excuse me where are you from? Do you live here too? I heard you speaking English. Turns out they were from Germany and they were only passing through and I think they were alarmed by my excitement because they were very rude. Even Lili didn’t like them! Lili asked me, is it normal to just run up to boys you don’t know in America. I laughed, well it can be, you talk to whoever you want in America and ignore whoever you want too. But I thought that they were maybe my people so I got a little too excited. Yeah well they were not nice looking men anyways so better that they don’t live here! Hahaha thanks Lili you are right!


I have so much to write about and yet I am just not ready yet. So I thought I’d post some pictures introducing you to new people in my life in Spitak.
So first an introduction to my cat Amoora. This cat use to kind of wander around outside. No one paid much attention to her. I would throw her some bread every once in a while because she looked hungry but that was it.
Well one day I was sitting outside and my family asked me why I looked sad. I told them that I wasn’t sad but I missed Alapars a little bit. Why they asked a little bit offended. I told them about the kids I played with and my shoonik who I loved!
Later in the day I was sitting in my room reading and my mom comes in with a little kid and his big brother. She was laughing and carrying him awkwardly in her arms. She literally brought in a small child off the street to keep me happy! The kid was really shy but super cute and it put a smile on my face. I taught him how to give high fives.
Later as I was chatting online with my mom and my sister my little brother comes in with the cat and hands her to me with the biggest smile on his face. I take the cat trying to appear happy, and smile and say thanks for catching him for me. Then he leaves the cat with me, I put it on the floor and let it hang out for a bit. It jumps up onto my bed. I pick it up and start to take it outside. No no no they tell me. It’s our cat now, she can sleep inside. We will call her Amoora after the Russian lake, and you can play with her whenever you want.
So I have a cat now, even though I hate cats, but at least sometimes when there is no one to talk English too at home, she listens, for awhile, until she starts crying about her own problems!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My First Armenian Date

Yesterday as I was sitting in the living room reading my host mom came to me and said put your pretty cloths on, we will go to a party for my nephew. They asked for you to come, so do your hair and get ready. So I went and threw on some jeans, not really all that excited, but hoping at least to get a little meat to eat. My host father came to pick us up and when I got in the car he explained to me, You will meet my nephew who is home from the army on holiday. He is a very good boy, a lot better than his brother here who is slow (his brother was sitting in the front seat of the car, they always call him dumb or slow in front of him). He speaks English very well, you will like him, he is a good looking boy. Ok I say back not really knowing what you are suppose to say to that. You will marry an Armenian boy, you are a good girl, very pretty, you will be married in a year. Hahaha no I will not. I don’t want to. You will, you will.
We drive about 15 minutes away to a part of Spitak they call Glendale. No joke, after the earthquake different parts of the world donated money to rebuild and each little sub part of town is named after the people who donated the money. As we arrive at our destination there is a group of five boys standing outside, I get out of the car and they all stare at me. My family give the boys hugs and introduce me to them and we go inside. This is my good nephew Gor, my host dad says. Hello he says to me. Hi I say. My name is Gor what is your name? Alyssa I answer. She he speaks very well my host dad says with a huge smile on his facing that is telling me I should like his nephew.
My Tatik calls to me and tells me to sit near her. She tells me what a good boy Gor is, and looks at him on the other side of the room where he is sitting surrounded by the other men at the party. They are obviously very happy to have him home and have a lot to say to him. As we sit, more and more people begin to arrive. They are all excited to meet me but really don’t have much to say. One girl in particular asks Gor how to tell me something. I forgot he answers. Time goes by, maybe two hours and the room is full of people all talking loudly and much too fast for me to understand. After awhile I stop trying to, and start playing cell phone games, yes that is how bored I was. So much for this cousin who speaks English I thought.
We are then called to eat dinner. There are three different tables, two in the kitchen and one in the living room. I am told to sit at the one in the living room, so of course I do. I soon start to notice that everyone else that sits at the table is a young male, with Gor sitting directly across from me. I have two twins to my right who look like stereotypical Russian gymnst, one is even wearing a tight tank top and they both have bowl cuts. Finally my host dad sits beside me, the last to fill the table making me the only girl. He fills my cup with vodka, and I politely tell him I do not like it, so he fills my other cup with wine. The men then start talking and for an hour I am sitting at a table in a tornado of sounds and words that I do not understand. The only thing I know is that as they are talking they are all staring at me. Every time I look up I meet Gors eyes and feel so awkward. He smiles at me as I sit helplessly not knowing anything that is going on. Occassionaly I hear the boys ask Gor to translate something for me, I forgot how to, he says. Four hours have past since I arrived; I am beyond exhaustion and beyond the point of caring what these people are talking or laughing at. One by one the boys get up after they are finished eating and leave the table. The women come in and begin to clear the table. I try to help. Nesti (sit) I am told. I look up and Gor is the only boy sitting at the table still. The table is cleared; people are still talking only they are sitting at the back of the room. About twenty of them. I take out my phone game again and start to play as chocolate and wine is set in between Gor and I.
I feel his eyes on me, but I try to ignore it, when all of a sudden I hear, do you think we are all crazy. I look up and he is smiling at me. No I say, everyone is nice. I sometimes think we are all a bit crazy. How do you like it here? I like it. Come on tell me the truth. I honestly like it. You speak English? Yes didn’t they tell you that? Yes I answer thinking to myself well why the hell did you sit here for four hours and not say a word of English to me. We quickly fall into conversation, talking about Armenian, his time in the Army, the book I am reading about Azerbijan and Armenian conflict, my language classes, and other things I don’t remember. He speaks English almost perfectly. Do you have a boyfriend he asks, my cheeks turn bright red, no I answer. That is not right he says, you should. I turn even redder. Tell me what you know in Armenian he says. I begin to think of something to say when all of a sudden I notice it is silent. I look to the back of the room and realize we have an audience. I want to crawl in a hole and get away from all of these eyes. No I say, they are all staring at me. He says something in Armenian and the room bursts into laughter. Now I just want to die. They are laughing at me, not you he says. They are just wondering what we are talking about, because they don’t understand a word. We fall into conversation again.
People begin to leave all coming up to our table kissing him and winking at me. It’s so awkward. His mom comes over to the table, bringing with her a box. She puts it on the table. He takes a bunch of letters and certificates out. He explains to me that the previous volunteer in Spitak a few years back helped him with his English. He did very well, just because he thought it was fun. He won a few composition competitions and corresponded with a number of kids back in America. He kept every letter from them. He even wrote to them when he went away to University and kept in touch with them. And before he went to the army they all sent him good luck letters. He explained to me how much it meant to him. He told me he was invited by a program to study in America, and how the volunteer had gone back to America and found a program where he could study finance and English at NYU. He was accepted to the program, but had to go to the Army. He tells me how important his country is to him and how no matter what he would never have deserted his obligation to protect it. He tells me that he is not sure what he is going to do when he gets back from the army in 10 months. He asks me if I want to do programs with him when he gets back. I ask if he wants to do any of the programs, his face turns red for the first time (he is a pretty confident guy) I do if you do he says. All of a sudden I realize we are not talking about English anymore, I am pretty sure by programs he meant something else. I don’t answer because I am so confused. When I get back I will call you and if you want to, if we want to, we can hang out together. I laugh, face red not knowing what to say, and my family in the back laughs with us. They say its time to go so I walk outside and get into the car, trying to escape as fast as I can.
But then Gors mom comes out and opens my door and grabs my hand. I want you to stay she says. My son wants to talk some more. So my whole family piled back into the living room and Gor and I continued to talk, only each of us feeling a little embarrassed now. More chocolates are brought out. I guess the family decided our date portion was over at this point, and they moved closer to join us. They put on a dvd of family pictures and Gor tells me about each picture, and who everyone is. It’s a dvd of family weddings, awkward! He tells me, I hope very much that before you leave you will get to see an Aremenian wedding, my family has beautiful weddings. Yes they are very beautiful I say. She would like an Armenian wedding he says to his family in Armenian. Che I say out loud and they all laugh. His brother grabs the camera and takes a few pictures of Gor and I. I do not pose, I feel way too awkward. Finally its almost 2 in the morning and we leave. Gor and his mom walk us to the door. We will see you again the mom tells me. You are a very good girl, we like you a lot and are happy you are here. I smile genuinely happy to have been there this night. Thank you for everything I say and hug her. I look at Gor, he smiles and I wave goodbye. I will see you soon he says….

When I get home, my cheeks are red, and as I fall into bed I still have a huge smile on my face. I am pretty sure I was just tricked into having my first Armenian date, and all and all I actually think it was kinda fun!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The love of my life in Armenia

I have fallen in love in Spitak. Yes you heard that right, I am in love. With whom you may ask, well unfortunately it’s not a who, but a what. This thing that I am in love with is sweet and spicy and almost tastes close to a maple syrup except it has almost a chi taste to it. I am talking about Popok maraba. Popoke maraba is green walnut jam. Walnuts are picked, boiled and then canned in delicious syrup. I have seriously never loved something as much as I love this. The nuts look like huge olives and are soft and easily cut able with a fork. I spread the juice on my bread in the morning and eat the walnuts whole (it feels so wrong to call them a nut, I hate nuts, but these are more like a fruit). I also poor the juice in my tea and it almost tastes like a chi latte! So yummy. I use it in my yogurt, and sometimes I just drink it whole, gross I know but I don’t care, love is blind =) My family does not really eat sweets, so popoke maraba is all I have to soothe my sweet tooth!
I found a company in New York that sells this jam. I am not saying it will be anything like the maraba I eat, but I really think you should try it. I promise you there is nothing like it in America, and as far as I am concerned there is nothing more Armenian. Just disregard what it says about pairing it with fancy shmancy blue cheese or frog or whatever, a nice fresh piece of bread is all you need!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Life drifts by and once again I wait for it to begin

So I’ve been in Spitak for a few days now and even though for the most part I have nothing to do at all, I have a lot to talk about. Firstly School does not start until September, so for the rest of this month it is up to me to entertain myself. I am not allowed to leave my site, and I have no site mates. Also unlike most who have no site-mates I do not have an extended site that I am allowed to go to, because Spitak has a bank. So it’s BORING! But to be honest it is nice to be bored after three crazy months, including my last few weeks in America. So basically every morning I wake up, talk to my family on facebook, read the news, read a little bit of the bible and then go eat breakfast with the family, if you can call what I eat breakfast (more on that later). Then I either go for a walk or go into the living room and read. Right now I am reading Black Garden, a book about the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I study random words that I hear my family say throughout the day to ingrain them in my memory. I talk on the phone a lot. I eat lunch, read some more, go running or hiking in the evening, come home and hang out with my family as my host mom prepares dinner. Eat again and then sit outside on our porch with my new kitten and talk to the family as best I can. Then I come back talk some more on facebook and write a bit. Pretty boring but also pretty nice.
There may be a few things you are wondering about my new town. So below I will give a description.

1. The Food- Even though I don’t want to, I have to say the food situation in Spitak kind of sucks. I am not saying that I never get good food, because on occasion my host mom makes very delicious soups, shat hamove (very delicious) but I’d say mostly the food is not very appetizing. For the most part I eat potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and bread. For breakfast I drink tea, and usually eat a piece of bread with Popok Maraba (more about this later). Needless to say, it isn’t very filling. For lunch so far we have tomatoes, cheese, and mashed potatoes every day. And dinner ranges from eggs and tomatoes to boiled potatoes and eggplant. The way I see it, this is a good wake up call for me. This is how people all over the world eat, every day. I have not had meat since I got here, I don’t think my family can afford it. I am hungry all the time, vegetables are not really filling. But this is what I signed up for. I signed up to live in a community and live as they do. It is so different from my Alapars village where we were all fed so well. Every morning I had oatmeal, creeps, leftovers from the night before, cakes and sandwiches to choose from. It is a real learning experience for me, but I do miss dolma and khorovots a lot!!

2. My family- Everyone is great! They are really caring and so nice. One mild exception my Tatik is a bit crazy. The first day was really hard for me cause the old bat kept calling me fat. She kept telling me I gained weight since she saw me last. At first I really let it hurt my feelings, but I had to really think about it culturally. Armenians never say you gained weight as a bad thing, they consider it a good thing, it means you eat well and are healthy. They have no idea how sensitive Americans are to weight, and how much of a terrible struggle it is for young girls to deal with their weight. I couldn’t take it too seriously because a day or two later she said that she didn’t want me to run anymore because I was getting too skinny and my family back home would think they were not feeding me! HA.
Other than that my family has been so awesome. I was feeling really homesick for Alapars and my host dad asked me why. I told him that I missed all the children I use to play with and my dog. A few hours later I was in my room and my host mom called to me. I walked out and there were three neighborhood children in the living room. She literally went into the neighborhood and dragged them to my house so that I would have kids to make me happy. It was so sweet! Later I was in my room talking to my mom and my sister on facebook and my host brother comes into my room and hands me a kitten. The cat is a bit dirty and smelly, so I am not really sure what he wants me to do with it. I pet it for awhile and then go to take it back outside, as I figure it’s a stray. My host dad runs up to me and tells me no no no. Katoo mena. Ko katoo. The cat stays, he’s your cat. They grabbed a stray off the street so that I would have a replacement for my shoon. It was really cute. They let the cat sleep in the bathroom that night. I had heard that Armenians hate animals in the house, and for the most part that is what I saw, but my family loves animals and this little baby kitten is now part of our home. She eats dinner with us and watches tv with them at night. I would never have the courage to tell my family I hate cats and think the little guy smells. I actually think my papik loves the cat the most. He always sneaks it food and chases it down if it tries to leave, he is so cute with it!!
3. The town- Spitak is no Alapars that is for sure. Spitak is big and there are a lot of people here. In Alapars I knew all my neighbors and most of the kids, people talked to me and were nice. Spitak is not the same. For the most part people ignore me. I wanted to explore my second day here so I went into the city center to find my bank. My family offered to go with me, but I wanted to do it alone. Big mistake. I tried to smile at people and be nice but they all just stared blankly back at me. When I couldn't find the bank, I stopped people walking by to ask them if they knew where it was. 7 out of the 8 people I asked looked at me and turned the other way without saying anything. It was horrible and after an thirty minutes I wanted to cry, but I didn't instead I went shopping. As I was shopping people followed me as if I was going to steal something, but no one ever offered to help me find anything. Even the young girls that stood behind me watching me struggle to make out the difference between shampoo and conditioner (everything is in Russian, not even Armenian) would not talk to me. It’s like they were fascinated with me but didn't want to get too close. Needless to say it was tough. I wanted to explore more and see what kind of clothes were in the stores and what the restaurants offered but I didn't have the energy for it. I think it will just take them some time to realize that I am here to stay and am now their neighbor, hopefully soon they will accept me.

Life is going to be a bit of a struggle here until I am accepted. It’s hard to be the only American here, and to only have my counterpart to hang out with, I will post a blog about her when I get a picture. I know I have some tough times ahead of me, but I can’t wait until the day I am invited to tea by a neighbor, or one of my neighborhood children follow me home. I know that I just need patience; it’s only been a few days. But it’s hard; I have so many ideas for this place. I want to work with the YMCA, and do women’s workshops, English sessions, Volleyball camps and maybe even tournaments in my second year with other YMCA’s. I want to start a volunteering group at my school that will reward my students for their volunteer hours with an American movie day, once a month. I want to have a club for my best English students that will teach them to use the computer via social networking sites that I will begin for my class, and hopefully correspond with a class in the United States with. I want to work with the cultural center and have creative writing story nights. I want to use some of my PR skills and work with some local NGOs. I want to do a camp here. I want, I want I want, but first I need to get integrated into my community. I know I need to give it time and I actually am very positive that it will happen, and I can’t wait for that, it’s just hard to be as shy as I am and to get rejected the first time you try….

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Praise GOD!

Dear Loyal blog readers, if I have any loyal blog readers, I have an announcement to make! Are you ready? This is super exciting news. I Alyssa Schlange, Peace Corps Volunteer Armenia, took a shower today!! Yes you heard me, a shower! Like a real shower, with get this, hot water!!!! For the first time in three months I took a shower.
Ok you may think that I am joking about the amazingness of this occurrence, but this is no joke. Today was the best day of my life because I got to sit under running hot water, ok not hot but kind of warm water. For the first time since I have been here I didn’t have to sit in a tub and poor warm water over myself and try not to freeze. I couldn’t believe my fortune in life, to have a shower that not only uses warm water but that also works! Many volunteers here have had a shower the whole time; I have not, so I consider myself blessed by God right now.
As soon as I stepped into the tub and felt the water on top of my head I couldn’t help but to smile. You have no idea how good hot water pouring down over your head feels. I just wanted to stand there forever! But I couldn’t, I understand how much it costs them to use a water heater so once I was able to snap myself out of my amazed state, I showered, yup showered!!! For a brief 8-10 minutes I felt like I was back home, I felt like I wasn’t living in a transitional country. Life is wonderful, I am so thankful for what I have and praise God for all the tiny wonderful things that he gives to me daily. I never thought the happiest day of my life would be due to something so small, but here I am hours later still smiling because in a few days from now, I will get to shower AGAIN!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

PST or PTS...

Pre-Service Training is almost over! In two days I will become an official Peace Corps Volunteer and move to Site. There is a large part of me that is excited and ready to begin my two years in Armenian. I am ready to work in my school, where I will know my students and be able to start accessing my community so that I can decide what it is that I can do to make a difference in it. It’s no secret to most that my PST has been pretty tough on me. I came to country with a dislocated jaw, thinking things couldn’t get much worse. The truth is they can and they did. From problems back home that seem un-bearable to problems with my heart that lead to a few weeks of me feeling pretty awful, my strength has been tested. I have been homesick, sick of home, and physically sick. There are nights when I have gone home and cried for hours and nights where I just stayed up looking at the wall, not having any tears left to cry. But no matter what I got through it, and though I may have thought about going home, the truth is I don’t really have anywhere to go, so I know I need to be tough, and PST has prepared me for it. I am ready to move on and stop worrying about what is going on back home, and start making a life for myself here in my community. I am so ready to be region neighbors with Ashley, I know we are going to have so much fun, I am so lucky to have her as a best friend!
What I am not ready for, is to leave my family. I am so comfortable in my house. I love my family. I can go and sit with them when I want to be social, but it is also perfectly ok for me to stay in my room and study and talk to my family. They give me space to do whatever I want to, but are always close by if I need to talk or hang out, or learn to cook something! Before coming to Armenian I was most concerned about living with a host family, but this experience has been perfect. Tonight as I was sitting on the couch with my sister, helping her set up an email account and sign up for information about study abroad programs and scholarships, she looked at me with big sad eyes and said she will really miss me. The truth is I will really miss her too! I loved having a sister here who I can talk to. Not just because she speaks English, but because she always wants to help me or know what is going on. The other night I stayed up pretty late just to watch a movie with her. She loves American movies, and books. I let her read any of my books that she likes, and gave her a couple to keep here in Alapars that I have not read yet, so that I will have to come back to get them.
Tonight when I got home, I walked around the village to spend some time with, and ultimately say goodbye to some of the villagers that I have spent time here with. Mainly the kids and the dogs. I didn’t even have to seek anyone out. As soon as I turned the corner my lil Andrenik came running to me. Grabbed me by the hand and lead me toward his house. Soon after Mena grabbed my other hand and I had a full escort. I was guided to a little house shared by three families and asked to tea. For once I accepted. I told them that I was leaving in two days and they said they would miss me. The mom told me that her kids love me and would be sad. We talked for awhile, they asked how old I was, and for once I replied honestly 26. It just feels so old here, they expect you to be married so young and I don’t want them to think anything is wrong with me. We took some pictures, the kids love having their picture taken, and I showed them some pictures of my dogs back home. They laughed. They think it’s silly that I love their dog so much. Eventually I got some courage up and asked them if I could take Shoonik out of her cage and walk her. They said yes. It was a very bittersweet moment for me. I will miss this little village so much. Believe it or not, I think of it as home. I feel like the people here, the adults that is, have just started to warm up to me. They have watched me hang out with their kids and animals for a few months now, and have just started to try to talk to me, and now I am leaving. When I walked home I felt so sad, and was surprised to find a few tears in my eyes. Even though I will see the kids before I leave again, it felt like the last time I will get to play with them and hang out.
When all is said in done, I have to leave, it is time. You have to keep moving on, I am learning that change is a good thing and can often bring about unexpected happiness. I have already had an amazing experience and I have yet to even begin my two years of service. I am so happy and lucky to be here serving Armenia, and serving my country and serving my God.

Free Shoonik

So you all know about Shoonik, the dog I have come to love here in Alapars. She follows me around everywhere I go, nipping at my feet and jumping up my cloths leaving her paw prints behind. She is filthy and stupid and oh so loveable. I adore Shoonik! Well one day last week Shoonik stopped following me. I walked by her house and she was nowhere to be found. I came out from class and she was no longer sitting on the porch steps waiting for me. A few days past, and she hadn’t even come to visit me at my house. I thought it strange, and wondered what had happened to her. I had made a plan to go and ask the family what had happened to her.
One day as I was walking home Shooniks owners, not her family because only I am her family, but the people who own her came up to me, well the kids did. Shooik, Shoonik is a bad dog they told me. No I responded she is a good dog, I love her. The little girl looks up at me, well shoonik is chained up she tells me. What do you mean I ask, not really understanding. She starts talking so fast that I do not understand. I tell her I am confused and she starts speaking quickly again. Knowing that I still do not understand she takes her finger and swipes it across her throat. The motion for dead. I freeze what do You mean I ask. She does it again. I flip out and tell her no, and she shakes her head yes. I walk away and tell her I can’t talk I am very sad.
By the next day I have devised a plan to free shoonik. I decide I am going to go to the ATM and get some of my American money out and offer it to these people for shooniks life. Unfortunatly for me it doesn’t work. I walk home feeling defeated and helpless. As I walk by the house I try not to look at the kids, I don’t want to talk to them, they are going to kill my dog. They grab me anyways and take me into their yard. They show me what seems to be a chicken coop and out walks shoonik chained on a 5foot chain. She looked so sad but at least she was still alive. I tell the kids its mean to chain her up and I don’t like it. They try again to tell me what happened. The little boy runs away and comes back with a baby chick. Juicy ate one of these he says. Ooooh. So you are not killing shoonik? No. Oooooooh. So Shoonik just ate a baby chicken so this is her punishment. Yes. Ooooooooooh. So when will you let Shoonik go free again? We won’t, she will live like this now. Nooo, wait, you mean she is always going to be on this tiny chain stuck here? Yes. ALWAYS? Yes. My heart starts to beat fast, I pick the dog up and hug her and walk away crying. My poor happy puppy being punished for something I know was not her fault. The kids taunt her and sick the baby chicks in her face. I know she didn’t do it on purpose.
But you have to understand one thing. This chick was the family’s livelihood. She would have laid eggs that they could have ate for years to come. She would have had more hens who they could sell for the much needed money. This chick was not a pet to them, she was their survival. Now they only have two chicks left. Shoonik has to be controlled they say. I still feel horrible. I want to free her, but she’d prolly become a street dog, or even worse, would come back to the house anyways and punished even worse for running away.
I have decided the only thing I can try to do is to educate them. I went over yesterday and showed the kids that her leash was twisted up and choking the dogs. I showed them that she needs water that is nearby. Then I asked if I could take her with me for a walk, I was granted permission so I took her collar off and let her run around. She followed me wherever I went. Even if she took off to chase a bird she came back promptly. She was so happy running and frolicking. Could you imagine being kept in a box for a week not able to run and stretch your legs out.? So sad. Today I will do it again, maybe this time the family will go with me. Maybe I can teach them to give her a free hour every day where she can be lose and run around. I just hope that when I leave it doesn’t get worse for the poor little thing. I am going to miss her so much! Who knows maybe in 4 months from now I will move to a dog friendly place and I can come back and get her.
All I know is Shoonik should be free! FREE SHOONIK! =)