Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Aye Kez ban

This is my first blog in a few weeks because there has been so much going on. First of all I moved into a new apartment. Things didn’t end very well with my host family after they found out I was going to move. They basically stopped talking to me and barley fed me in the last few weeks. It was a really stressful time for me, but now I am in my new apartment with Sophie dog and I am so excited about how it is turning out.
The other major thing that happened that has caused me to pause my blog is that I had a week long seminar in a local ski resort so I didn’t have time to blog. Also the end of the seminar has caused me to question my service here in Armenia. I won’t go too much into detail because thinking about the incident and what could have happened really upsets me.
So on our last night in Tsakghadzor Ashley and I decided to go into town while the boys played basketball. The seminar was very long and boring, starting each day at 9:30 and ending around 6 or 7. So we really needed to get out and get some fresh air. We walked from the Sports Complex hotel to the nearest store in town, which was probably about a 20 minute walk. We talked with the hanoot owners who were very friendly and nice to us, and even gave us a mini Armenian lesson. After making our purchases we walked around the main street in the town and took a few pictures. After some time we began to walk back up to our hotel. We walked for about ten minutes when we noticed a black car following us. We made the first left into the nearest hotel parking lot, trying to make them think that it was our hotel so they would leave us alone. The door of the hotel was around the back side so we walked around the building to toward the door. The car followed us. At the dead end one man got out of the car on foot and pursued us. We immediately went into the hotel to wait it out. To be honest I was nervous but it is not unusual for us to be followed here. Usually it is just guys trying to hit on us, nothing sinister. We waited for five minutes and figured they would be gone. When we walked out the door the man was still there so we sped up to get to the main street and he followed. As we went toward that side the car was waiting for us blocking the exit, parked horizontally with the car door open. We were trapped. We slid by the side of the door that was not open. We picked up our pace to get to the main street. The other guy following on foot got in the car and the car started again and followed. We stopped in a lighted area not wanting to walk further away from the town. The car circled us about 4 times. Finally they asked if we would come with them. I said no. The guy got a little big angry and asked me why not. I just said no over and over again and continued to walk away. At this point I was pretty scared, I partly felt safe because I was with Ash, but there were two of them, and it became clear they had no intentions of leaving us alone.
The car then pulled up out of sight at the next turn ahead of us towards our hotel. We debated what our next move should be, thinking maybe they drove off but half frozen with fright we just stood therel knowing they were waiting for us ahead out of town where there are no lights or traffic. I told her to wait to make sure they were gone. Then we heard a car door shut. I knew they had not in fact left but were up at the next cross street waiting for us. Essentially they had trapped us again. We had no where to go. If we went forward we would walk straight to them. If we turned around we would be going into the dark, possibly making things worse. So we waited a bit and then tried to walk the other way. As soon as we took a few steps The car engine started again and began to follow. At this point I called the Peace Corps, I knew these guys were going to try to take us. As I was on the phone the car was circling around us again, this time much closer. Thank God that as they got closer to us I spotted a taxi coming and I jumped out in front of it. Ash and I practically jumped in it, scared out of our minds. I have to admit I was at the point of hysterically yelling at her, sorry ash. As we drove toward our hotel I couldn’t help but to look back, scared that they were following, but they did not, I think they knew they lost their chance.
I have to say this is the second time someone has tried to hurt me here. There is no doubt in my mind that these men were planning to take one of us, and were making plans on the best way to do it. The fact that they were in a car, made it much scarier because they could get one of us and we would never been seen again. At first I thought everything was fine, it was just a close call, but now as the days pass I am really questioning my safety here. If this man had got us, what could we do? We are both short, little people, and I am not saying we don’t have fight, but there were two of them. I mean we are targeted here because we are foreign women. We were both dressed appropriately in huge snow jackets and hats and gloves. We were in no way acting out of Armenian character or drawing attention to ourselves. The thing is we don’t look like Armenians and no matter what we do, we won’t fit in and that scares me. I don’t want to have to carry a switchblade in my purse to feel safe, but what can I do?


  1. I can't believe this, I'm so sorry to hear about this.
    First of all, your Peace corp family should definitely be taken off the list if they can not be civilized people. You moving out, is no reason to not feed you.
    I know your Mom must have been going crazy when you told her about this incident. That is so scary. you are always in my prayers Little girl.
    Please keep me informed.

  2. Her mom is going out of her mind. That was a lot more detail then you gave me on the phone, or maybe I couldn't take it all in then. Alyssa, your a brave young woman and I'm very proud of that bravery. For some reasson people have been trying to take you away from me since you were a little girl. There is one thing I know for sure and that is that God is always looking out for you, protecting you. People always tell me what a great job I did raising you and your brother and sister, but I always tell them that God was the one looking out for you. There was pleanty of times in Azusa when things got pretty scarey, we got through it and it made us, you, that much tougher. I have every faith that you will do what's best for you now. I have to admitt that I am hoping Miss Sophie jan grows faster so that she can help protect you, hell, maybe that's why she came along to begin with. I'm sorry about the creepy host mother, see that just goes to show you that calling someone else your mom is a bad idea. They broke the mold when they made me,( and no not because it was faulty), so stop trying to call someone else your mama. I love you sweetie, hang in there, I know just how tough you are. By the way, now would be a good time to go back to those Bible studies you were doing with someone out there. All my love, mom P.S. we'll support whatever you decide to do

  3. It is your and your family decision Alyssa and I leave at that since I am not family. But if you run away you might face the same challenge and confrontation wherever you go. The best weapon is the name of Jesus, just say out loud or yell toward any danger of any kind: "In the name of Jesus be gone" repeat it, even pointing your finger and right arm toward the danger while saying that phrase (in the name of Jesus I command you to go), until the enemy/danger backs off. And they surely will since saying that phrase brings the presence of Jesus or His angel to the scene at your side for taking charge of the situation. You will come out safe with greater faith. If you are unwilling to confront by saying that phrase against danger then in Armenia, outside of Yerevan, you girls don't go out at night if not accompanied by male friends. Even in Yerevan after midnight females alone or in pairs are often harassed by some low-life creeps who sometimes are drunk. Being with male friends will convince the potential harassers that you girls alone are not looking for adventures with other males. papik

  4. Papik has good advice. After reading about how you almost got kidnapped, I'm really worried. Did you ever see the movie, Taken with Liam Nielson? Two 18 year old American girls travel to Europe on vacation and they get followed at the airport back to their apt they got for the summer in Paris. The guys come in and kidnap them and traffic them for sex. I think you should be extremely careful especially at night. I don't know what to think would have happened if this happened to you and Ash during the night.

    Be safe. I love you too much to see you get hurt.

    XXXXX Bets

  5. No 'Bets!' what happened in the street with Alyssa this time was 2 big boys looking for entertainment with girls and passing time as they are bored by themselves. The practice of chasing girls in the streets by foot or car is common in Yerevan and resort rich towns (and in other countries in that side of the world, not only in Armenia), specially in known pick-up spots in center of Yerevan. The boys just want to know the girls more, take them to some restaurant or to disco and talk, dance, and of course suggest a more intimate setting afterward. Most Armenian girls will ignore their chaser if not interested, but those boys can be persistent like annoying pests and will not give up easily but if the girls keep ignoring them they go away. Sometimes of course the girls confront them and say I am not interested go away and leave me/us alone, the boy's pride will hurt then and will try to keep the conversation going on, but eventually they leave the girl alone, they will not touch the girl or harm in any way (but caution is recommended as in few cases they might use force and harm but generally violence is not common). I have seen a local girl in center of Yerevan who some nut liked her and started following her and wanted conversation with her, the locals know how to deal with nutty cases like that; but if the same thing happens to someone visiting aboard from US then she get scared and starts walking fast and wants to escape..after a while the nut will shake his head and leave her alone. Papik

  6. Papik, this time I think you are so wrong. I know you may know your country better than I do, but men are men. Armenian men are no different then other men. If a girl is walking faster to avoid the man, running into buildings to get away, she is obviously scared. I can't believe that the Armenian people find the practice of chasing and scaring women acceptable. I can't imagine Armenian women thinking that's o.k. or attractive. If so, somthing is terribly wrong in Armenia and I don't believe that. I have no doubt that what they had planned for my girls wasn't just flirting. If that was two men following you like that I don't think you would think they wanted to simply make friends with you, you would be afraid they were out to hurt you too. So please, don't minimize this. I agree with Betsy, it was a very dangerous situation. Alyssa's mom