Someone recently asked Doug why we don't blog much about Armenia. He relayed the question to me, and my spontaneous answer was, "because we don't like it here".
And that, I fear, is at the bottom of the truth.
It's not that we hate it here. We have a nice house, we have found some friends, we get by and it's OK. The city of Yerevan is not exactly what one would call pretty but there is stunning countryside all around Yerevan, in relative close distance. Mt. Ararat, while technically not in Armenia, is one of the most beautiful sights ever. We found some excellent restaurants, and the brandy is good (the wine less so, but you cannot have everything, eh?)
So, why don't we like it here?
Two reasons: It lacks any and all charm, and the political reality is so grim, it scares the shit out of me.
There is this (also here). There is that. There are the traffic policemen who only stop you to press money from you. There is the fact that when you are in a hospital and come out of surgery, you have to pay the person who pushes your guerney and you have to pay the person who pushes the buttons in the elevator. Otherwise, nobody pushes anything. There is the fact that we have been warned about listening devices in our house. There is Zvartnots Airport which has been built without any heating or air conditioning. Bad enough in the summer when the sweltering heat beats down on this the concrete nightmare of an airport -- but in the winter, the airport is an icebox, with only a single little café in the departure section that is not enough to keep you warm when you have to wait for your three-hour-delayed flight in the middle of the frigging night. And they want 20 USD from you for the privilege of leaving the country via this prime spot of travel.
Armenians on the whole I found charming and nice. They are very well educated and know a lot.
They also lack all sense of public space. Yerevan is a trash dump, women are not exactly treated equal, the streets are catastrophic, traffic is horrible...
... and while this all could be said of Bali as well, Bali has charm and appeal, and Armenia does not.
Yes, I'm particularly disheartened today. We had a bad enough week - no electricity (= no calls) on my birthday, no water the day after, more electricity failures, horror stories about the political reality in Armenia on a party on Friday, my Mom flying out of Zvartnots with above described experience, stories about rising numbers of MDR TB*...
Next week may be better. Or it may not.
Hell has many circles and Armenia is certainly not very far down. There are many, many places much worse than here. There are days when we are happy here. There are many things to like. But Armenia has not yet found its way into my heart, and it's making it very, very hard for me. And because I don't want to write many posts like this, I am just not writing much about Armenia.
*Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis