Thursday, June 9, 2011

An Armenian Excursion.

Excursion: A short journey or trip, esp. one engaged in as a leisure activity. At least that is what the dictionary defines it as.
When my counterpart asked me if I wanted to go on an excursion (the Armenian word is the same as the English) to Desgh with our fifth form class, I was excited for the chance. Who wouldn’t want a Khorvots in a beautiful meadow with their favorite students? Great, she tells me, be at my place at 8:00 am we are leaving at 8:30. 8:30 am?!?! What have I gotten myself into, I wonder. You have to understand Armenians are not known for being morning people, like at all. Neither of the host families I lived with ever went to bed before 1 am and neither ever woke up in the morning before 10 am. They like to stay up late and get up late, it’s just the way they are. In fact when I get up at 7 to go running Spitak is a ghost town! I don’t see a single person which is in fact why I choose to go at that time. Even if I wake up late and go at 9, I don’t see very many people out. So I knew that a call time this early could only mean trouble. I mean Desegh is only about a 45 minute drive from Spitak, so I couldn’t see a single reason to leave that early.
Skip forward to the day of our little “Excursion”. I was told not to bring anything that I wouldn’t need a single thing. So I grab Sophie and go! When the Marshotka pulls up to my counterparts house I notice that she has a huge day bag packed full… that is strange I think to myself. We pile into the mini bus, and the children’s parents immediately start to complain that I brought Sophie. I just smile and pretend not to understand. She sits on my lap and behaves perfectly the whole car ride, until about minute 43 when she pukes everywhere… great! When we get to Desegh, we go to the Armenian poet’s museum. It was actually his family’s old house that they turned into a museum. It wasn’t very notable. We then get back in our van and an argument breaks out between my counterpart and the driver. Something about driving to a river, and him saying the car wouldn’t go that far. Soon enough we begin to drive up a rough dirt road. After about twenty minutes the van stops in what seems to be the middle of nowhere. Everyone heads out of the van and begins to unpack the bags and bags of food. We begin to hike to a place my counterpart says is perfect for a picnic. After ten minutes of hiking, I realized I should have brought sun screen, who would have known that we were actually going to have a sunny day?!!? After 30 minutes of hiking we arrived at a spot with trees. One in our party ran into the forrest to check it out. He came back after a few minutes to report that there was no lake there. So we went the opposite direction to another patch of trees. After about 15 more minutes of hiking we discovered there was not a river in that patch either. A few of us threw our stuff down and sat in the shade. I have to admit I was one of those few. I figured I might as well wait till they hiked to the next place because they would most likely be back in our direction soon. As it turned out I was right and the next place didn’t have a river either. So we hiked back down, a whole 45 minutes to where we began. At this point I will admit, I wanted to murder someone. As I have stated before in this blog, I am not so much of a hiker, especially in the heat when there are mosquitos everywhere!!!

So as we got back to our starting point we saw a man on a horse and we asked him where the lake was. It turns out it was about a 30 minute walk in the only direction we hadn’t tried, so off we were again!

Finally we got to the place my counterpart had meant for us to go all along, and as we laid our stuff out, we noticed a bus driving up a perfectly fine road… turns out our bus could have driven us there I the first place!!! So after about 3 hours of hiking and being in the sun I was already worn out. I had expected the trip to really only be 5 hours in all so I figured it was fine that we would eat and be home soon. I laid out my blanket and Sophie and I fell asleep. I think we slept for about an hour. When I woke up a fire was being built. Yess, lunch time I thought… only they were only preparing coffee. The moms sat around and drank coffee and the kids played. I kind of just sat on my blanket, the only thing that I did bring, and read.
After another hour or so, they began to BBQ. It was finally time to eat! At this point it was about 3pm, the time I had expected to be on our way back to Spitak. But we had an amazing meal and so I couldn’t complain. After lunch I played volleyball with my kids for awhile until the heat was too much for me. When I sat down, it was apparently time for dessert. Another round of plates were set out and everyone once again sat down to eat. After dessert a group of people made a walk to the water, but I was feeling a little bit sick so I went back to sleep. I woke up at around 6 thinking it must be time to go now, but to my surprise not a single thing was cleaned up. Everyone was just sitting around talking. I went over to my counterpart to ask her if we were leaving soon, she smiles at me and tells me know, thinking I would be glad. A little part of me screamed inside! When are we going to leave!! Aggggh. Basically we didn’t even begin to pack up our stuff to leave until 8pm.
Finally we were on our way home and all I could do was put on my IPOD and try to block the singing kids on the bus out. I thought they would be tuckered out, but somehow they had so much energy still! As we are driving I start to drift off to sleep. I don’t know how long I slept but I woke up when the car stopped. I look around expecting to be back in good ole Spitak, but no. We are at a park. I guess it was time to eat the remainder of the Khorovots and to play again. I don’t really know because I was done. Fed up. I felt as though I had been kidnapped and would never return home. I hate to admit it, but I sat in the car the whole time as the children ran around playing and the adults ate. I basically pouted. I know it’s not cool, and that grown ups shouldn’t throw fits, but like a child, I was tired and had a headache and had about 30 bug bites that were beginning to itch, and no water to drink. I was miserable.
Finally at about 10:30 we got home. I have never been so happy to be back in Spitak in my life. Though Desegh was a beautiful place, I have to say, I would have been good with 2 or 3 hours there, not 14!! I may never go on an Armenian excursion again!


  1. I hope this info about Dsegh will be enlightening to visitors of your blog:

    Dsegh (70km from Stepanavan), one of the oldest and most famous villages in Armenia, is the birthplace of the “The most Armenian, the most nationalist writer” (Av. Isahakyan) - Hovhannes Tumanyan. In Dsegh, it is possible to see the cozy House-Museum of Tumanyan, which became a museum in 1939. His house-museum contains about 300 items from his life and work, though the majority is in his museum in Yerevan (which is located in center of Yerevan at the end of Tumanyan Avenue or street). It is important to walk through the village, enjoy the fantastic scenery of rocks and mountains, caves, castles and monasteries and get into the mind of the greatest poet. Hovhannes
    Tumanyan was born in 1869. As many famous people described him, he was a largely self-educated and an extremely well-read man, a real genius who wrote comedies, tragedies, poems, stories, and essays about life, children's stories and fairy tales. He was loved by everyone. He wrote in a romantic style, but was comfortable with realism and the nationalistic patriotic style. In front of his house, you can find the bust of the poet and a small chapel where the poet's heart is buried; the rest of his remains are still in Tbilisi where he spent most of his life.

  2. I would recommend an ice-bag for summer heat on top of the head when the heat becomes unbearable. One of those heavy duty bags, rubber lined and fabric outside that can be filled by ice and closed by a twist cap.

    A natural & Herbal Insect Repellent, like the Burt's Bees brand, can come handy in summer where insects abound.

    The link below has a map of Desgh, Stepanavan, Tumanian area. It's in pdf format and the map is on the third page and you can enlarge it as much as like.