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I Need Ice Skates!

Lerik looks like a winter wonderland right now with all the snow we’ve been getting, but since no one shovels the snow, or salts the paths, once the snow melts and freezes during the night and leaves behind a coating of ice on all the streets and stair cases, walking to school has become an extremely stressful and dangerous trip.  I’ve taken some pictures on my walk to school to share with you what i have to go through.

Snow capped mountains, and fog (cloud).

at the top of the ice covered staircase. if the cloud wasn't there, you'd be able to see the town center.

ice covered road.

close up of ice covered stairs.

i've fallen many times, and suffered many bruises... to both the body, and ego.

this street is actually a lot steeper than it looks here. whenever i walk down this street i cling onto the chain link fence you see on the right as if my life depended on it.

Anbar (storage shed) behind my house.

 

view of my front yard

 

the bathtub where we store our water has been covered by the snow!

most of this is gone now, but it started snowing again today when i left Lerik!

who knows how much snow will be there when i get back.

I was too lazy and cold to step outside my house to take more picture,

but i’ll take more pictures of the snow covered valleys and mountain tops when i get back!

Azerbaijani Friendliness

There is a common consensus among many PCVs here in Azerbaijan that most Azerbaijanis that they encounter are not very friendly.  At times, they may come across as cold, curt, and sometimes even downright rude, but I’ve found that that’s not always the case.  If you take the time to say just one more word to them, oftentimes they’ll ask “bizim dilimiz bilirsən?” which translates to “you know our language?” and when you say “bəli” [yes] then they’ll break out into a huge smile and instantly become this new, way friendlier, person.  If you happen to be in a store/bazaar when this happens, you just might walk away with extra apples or candy that they throw in for free when you leave!

 

So the lesson here is to not write someone off as rude or unfriendly the minute you interact with them.  Give them at least 2 min to warm up to you – (you might get some free candy or fruit for your effort :D)!

 

Misery

Life as a PCV (Peace Corps volunteer) in Azerbaijan isn’t too miserable.  I have a lot to be thankful for – a clean home to live in, a nice host mother, a host brother who lives and studies in Baku (6hrs away) so is rarely home, a great city to live in [Lerik], students who adore me, kind townspeople that look out for me (when they’re not trying to rip me off), and a great school with an awesome director that speaks great English and counterparts whom I get along with.  BUT, everybody has bad days, some more often than others, but it’s a fact of life.  I just can’t help but feel that bad days in Azerbaijan are so much worse than bad days in America.  At least back at home in NY if I have a bad day, I can call out my friends to go drink or eat away the misery with me or I can go shopping and buy myself something nice (retail therapy – my favorite kind of therapy).  Here in Lerik, Azerbaijan, if I have a bad day, the best I can do is call a fellow PCV and vent out my frustrations as fast as I can so I don’t use up too much of my kontur.  I have nowhere to go except maybe off the side of a cliff… and I’m not so miserable as to take that step yet!

 

There just isn’t a lot that I can do here to relieve stress.  Leading clubs would only increase my blood pressure because I spend 20 hours a week in the classroom as it is, and I just can’t get myself to go back to face the kids again once I leave school.  Kudos to all you teachers out there, what you do is way underappreciated!  My time in the Peace Corps so far has me rethinking what I want to do when I finish, but one thing I know for sure is that I DO NOT WANT TO EVER BE A TEACHER!!! I’m just not cut out for it. I don’t like kids enough to want to spend my entire day with 20-30 of them five days a week.

 

And speaking of intensely disliking children… the one that lives in the apartment above me is slowly driving me insane.  The 5 year old girl, who I once thought adorable, a long, LONG time ago, literally has me cringing and breaking out in goose bumps every time I hear her say “mən gelirəm!” which means “I’m coming!” Then she comes running with her little notebook that I use to teach her the English alphabet, and while I love that she wants to learn… the LAST thing I want to do is deal with her the minute I come home from school.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t come over EVERY SINGLE DAY, or if she didn’t cry at EVERY LITTLE SINGLE THING THAT DOESN’T GO HER WAY, or if on the weekends the sound of her voice in my house isn’t what wakes me up in the morning but because these things are a daily occurrence, it makes me not want to be in Lerik on the weekends anymore. I have nowhere to hide but my room and it’s too cold now for me to be hiding in there anymore. I’m slowly being driven insane… and I CAN’T WAIT TIL I CAN GO BACK TO NYC this summer for a month or so.

 

I don’t want to end on such a depressing note, so I’ll say it again.  Lerik is a great place and I, for the most part, love being a volunteer here… just one more year left!

 

WHAT A LOAD OF BULL CRAP!

new beginnings

its been WAY too long since my last post…

so here’s to new beginnings!

Christmas in Lerik

My first Christmas in country was spent hiking up the mountains with a bunch of friends that came to visit for the holiday!  For five hours, 4 of us (it was originally 6, but 2 had to turn back to pick up another friend that came later) hiked up the Choban trails until we reached a remote mountain village.  The view was really awesome.  We found snow along the way too, and everyone that we encountered were so friendly.  Basically everyone we passed invited us in to their house for tea.  Azerbaijani people are so hospitable.  Imagine seeing 4 Americans walking through your remote mountain village.  What a site we must’ve been.  We saw a ton of cows, goats, and sheep along the way, and I don’t’ think I’ve ever stepped on so many different kinds of shit before this day.  The path was littered with goat shit, cow shit, sheep shit, duck shit, and chicken shit, dog shit, I’d be surprised if we didn’t accidently step on human shit too!

the cemetary we passed by.

food break!

donkey's in the village we passed through.

jade and i with the mountains behind us.

tim and eli.

mason's counterpart... went hiking in this geshank getup.

mountain village.

a cloud trapped in the valley.

a cloud.

amy, tim, me, jade, mason, eli, james is taking the picture.

After our long hike, we all went back to Mason’s house to hang out for a bit, and played dominos.  Then we all went over to his director’s house for dinner!! The whole family was just so hospitable, and the food was AMAZING!!  We had levengi, which is basically tomatoes or chicken or egg plants stuffed with a mixture of I’m not exactly sure what, but it doesn’t matter cuz it was SO GOOD, and we also had plov, which is rice cooked in butter (big surprise there), mini meatballs which were also super delicious.  We ate like kings that night.  Then after dinner, they brought out bowls of fruit, and let me tell you… banana’s are so damn cheap back in the U.S., but here in Azerbaijan… bananas are so damn expensive!  They’re a luxury, so whenever us PCV’s get served bananas… that’s the first thing we go for!  It was such a great dinner, and such a fun night.  I really enjoyed having everyone here, and was so sad when the weekend came to an end.  Hopefully we can have get togethers like more often!

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