Friday, May 25, 2007

Home, Home on the Dusty Hill Top

Well I have been waiting to post photos of our house, but since it seems that we are never going to get everything done before, I figured it was time to put it out there! I am posting photos of our living room fireplace, the kitchen, guest bath, and our bedrooms. More to follow in a week or so (hopefully).

Off to the Lori Region

Over the last few months, we have met other "crazy" folks like us who have picked up their families and have moved to Armenia either temporarily or permanently. We have become friends with these crazy people and have gone over to each other's homes for dinner, gone to concerts together, etc. Our first mini-get away was to the Tufenkian Hotel in the Lori Region. The hotel sits on the edge of the Debed River and is really beautiful. It is a boutique hotel designed in a medieval design with a touch of New York cool. We have visited it for lunch a year or two ago, but it was very nice to stay overnight in. Cool thing is that you can rent the entire 34 room hotel and all the facilities for a flat rate of 1,000,000 amds or about $3,000. We had a nice two days and evening. Swam in the indoor pool, ate drank then toured the historical sites of Sanahin and Haghpat Monasteries the next day on the way home. Our adopted daughter Tammy came along as well. It was a very fun time. On the way, we stopped for a second in the town of Alaverdi, which has a tremendous pollution problem because of the copper smelting that takes place there. The shot of the girls and Tammy is on a foot bridge from the 13th century.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 24th, 2007

April 24th is a national holiday in Armenia. We saw several businesses that were closed. Our plan was to visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial and then go to the last Yerevan screening of the movie "Screamers" that features the System of a Down band.

We woke up in the morning to a very unexpected snow storm. It was the first time in almost 30 years that it snowed in April (let alone April 24th). We waited until mid day and seeing no break in sight, we left for the Memorial. We drove down the hill and parked at AUA, then took the subway closer to the Memorial and walked the rest of the way. We were cold and wet by the time we arrived. That combined with the fact that my stupid video camera would not work (eventhough it was working fine that morning) led to the angry look on my face during the photos...

Hearing that despite the powerful (he said sarcastically) ANCA and feared Armenian Assembly (he said bitterly) the US Congress was going to postpone consideration of the Genocide Resolution until after April 24th, we figured we should try to send a message to Speaker Pelosi. The girls and I made the banner and they proudly carried to the memorial. The visit to the Memorial was pretty incredible. I have been there now more times than I can count, but seeing people treking through the rain and snow was powerful. Being there with my family was even more powerful.

On Saturday, the girl's history teacher at school is going to take them to the Genocide Museum for a tour. They are looking forward to it. This morning on the way to school, they told me that despite the rain, snow and cold, they really enjoyed the trek to the monument.

In the evening, we went to the last screening of "Screamers" here in Yerevan. The movie was in English with Armenian subtitles. The theater was full and the movie was great. Personally I find the System's music horrific, but they have done a damn good job spreading the word and educating masses of young people about the horrors of Genocide.

I am not hopeful that the Genocide resolution currently before the House and Senate will be voted on. I do not think that the Armenian community at the moment has the political capital to make it happen. Having lobbied on this issue for most of my professional career, I am torn. Passing this particular resolution will change nothing. But, the US must go on record affirming the Armenian Genocide. It would simply be nice if it were a more meaningful resolution that did something positive.

Around 10 or so p.m. Houry and I were watching TV and we saw something really interesting. An Armenian TV crew visited Eastern Turkey searching for pieces of our history. They visited several cities and toured the audience through was is left of our churches and homes. All in all it was a day to remember.Publish

Our Noraduz Adventure

To continue our adventures, last Sunday we packed up the car and headed out towards Lake Sevan to investigate Noraduz, which is a cemetery that has more than 1,000 khatchkars. Some date back as early as the 13th century. We also stopped at a church along the way called Hairavank right on the shore of Lake Sevan. It was a pretty beautiful place. The original church was built in the 10th century.

Our destination was on the south eastern shore of Lake Sevan, a place we had never been. The shoreline on this side of the lake was beautiful. Although the weather in Yerevan has already become spring (and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom), the weather at Sevan was still winter. It was cold and snow was still on the ground. It was interesting to see that the shoreline at some spots at Sevan had clearly risen. This is purposely done to try and preserve the lake after the Soviets had attempted to drain 80% of the surface area. You can clearly see that attempts to begin to restore the lake’s level are working.

The church was quite nice perched on a hilltop. Near the church were Bronze Age ruins and some very large boulders. It was picturesque.

Noraduz was quite amazing. This is supposed to be the location of the largest collection of old khatchkars anywhere. It was located just outside of a small village. We stopped and admired the khatchkars and walked around the cemetery. We were followed by an old woman, who ultimately told us to take her picture. Then she asked for some money. I gave her the Armenian equivalent of about $1.20 and she looked at it and said something to herself like “oh, good.” It was pretty funny. The drive back was nice and all in all it was a great day.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Land of Men in Dresses...

I finally got the photos from the other camera and figured it was time to post them and a few thoughts on our trip to Dubai. Dubai was a pretty amazing trip. We certainly did not expect things to be the way we found them. It seems that the crazy Arabs, having more money than they know what to do with, created the "best of USA" and "best of Europe" in the middle of freaking no where. The new part of Dubai is one monsterous highrise building after another. The old part of Dubai is scary old crap. It was pretty funny to see Arabs in dresses driving porche suvs with sunglasses on, white head scarfs, and no shoes. All that cash, and the biggest mall in the area and you would think they would figure out that shoes are a good thing. Seriously, if you want a pair of man sandels, Dubai is the place to purchase them. They had an incredibly HUGE selection of sandels. We visited several of the shopping malls and all were pretty amazing. Every bathroom in Dubai has a long hose that most westerners use to wash dishes in the sink. Well, the hose is located in the toilet stall, so that relegious Arabs can wash themselves prior to praying (which they are suppose to do 5 times a day). In the mall there were seperate prayer areas for men and women and we heard the Mosque's call for prayers being broadcast on the street. Overall it was a pretty surreal adventure. On the plane going to Dubai the president and his wife of Nagorno Karabakh was on the plane. (I guess his wife needed to do some shopping) and coming back, Gagik Tsarukian was on board (I guess he needed to buy a pair of sandels). The photo in the nice courtyard is the bus stop at the mall. The shiny camel is outside of an office building (that also has a mall inside). The desert shots are on a desert safari that we took for half a day. They put us in a Toyota SUV, drove us out into the desert, and did some 4 wheeling for about an hour, then we rode camels, drove atvs, and had an Arab feast. It was pretty funny. The shot of Houry and I smoking the water pipe is in front of a picture of the Arab Sheik who essentially owns Dubia, and is the foreign minister of the UAE. All in all a fun trip!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Did you miss us?

Long, long, long lost posting….

I’m baaack! After a long, extremely busy absence from my normal posting, I am back. Lots and lots to report. Let me start with our home!

We delayed our drip back from Los Angeles because our house was not yet completed. After much grief, we came back and were able to move in. Houry ended up losing it and calling the owner and saying “Either give us our money back or let us move in!” About five minutes later 10 guys that I kindly refer to as the keystone construction guys show up and get our place ready enough to move in. So, we officially are the first people to occupy any of the apartments in our five building complex. Now for the stories!

Important word we learned in Armenia…………jamanagavor. This translated means temporary. Everything we have is temporary. We have a propane tank in our cabinet that runs our gas stove because gas is not at the complex yet. We have a temporary electric hot water tank because the master tank also runs on gas. We have a temporary electric and water connection to the building that means we have little water pressure and low voltage electricity. This pretty much means that everything electric works very, very slowly. F6 is the famous number at our house. This is the power failure code that our washing machine keeps telling us. Our sewer connection to the building is also temporary so it is a good thing that no one lives down hill from us! Our heaters are also temporary and were electic, which meant that they didn't work so good because of the weak electricity (good thing it is finally warming up!) Rumor has it that soon we are suppose to be assigned an address! At the end of the day, we have held back our final payment and are trying very patiently to work through the remaining issues—but we are finally in!!!

The view of Ararat almost makes the entire nightmare worth while. About three weeks ago, we woke up one Sunday morning and the temporary connection of the water to our building had frozen…but Ararat was in clear view…so we left the apartment and drove to Khor Virab for an amazing view. I have posted some pictures of Ararat from Khor Virab. We also went to the statue of Kevork Chavush next to Khor Virab. It was kind of cool, set up on top of a small hill. Kevork Chavush was a hero in the battle against Turkey.

Our dusty apartment is finally taking shape and becoming a home. Most of the cabinets that we had built are in place and pretty much all of our boxes are now empty. Our plan is to have Easter dinner at our house. (I hope we have electricity that day!). The mud outside as the snow melted and the rain started was incredible. It was almost more slippery than the snow. The keystone construction team figured out that they needed to do something, so they brought some dufa stone and put down some gravel and made a makeshift parking spot and side walk for the two apartment buildings. At least we can now get out of our muddy cars and walk into our apartment relatively mud free. (It also gives Goofy a mud free place to pee J)

Bad news on Ponchig…..Haroutun’s wife’s brother who is 12 took Ponchig in because he had a yard for our crazy street dog to run around. He absolutely loved Ponchig and we thought we found him a perfect home. It became clear that we could not keep him because he was not getting along with Goofy. So, off to the brother’s house he went. Well, crazy Ponchig chewed through his leash and ran into the street and is now crazy flat street dog L.

Houry broke our horn about a week ago when she got into a fight with a dumb ass construction worker who blocked the dirt road in front of one of the many construction sites. He made her wait about 30 minutes until they unloaded a truck. Houry yelled at them, but they were real assholes. So she beeped the horn for about 10 minutes straight, which ultimately caused it to break. It beeps, but it is kind of sad now. I document this terrible event to continue the story. So about a week later, Houry calls me very, very happy. On the way out on the dirt road, she sees the dumb ass guy walking in the middle of the road. So, she speeds up the car and beeps the horn (she was driving our other car this time so the horn worked!) and scared the hell out of the guy. Then as she passed buy, she smiled and flipped him off. Revenge might not be too Christian, but it can be sweet at times!

Houry has been going to the gym regularly since we got back. Her and a friend of hers meet and go together. They went to a class for yoga or something and were joking that the class seemed filled with mistresses all dolled up and ready to work out. I call it Mistress Monday’s at the Marriott. Now a month or so later, they figured out that most of them are the wives of the various ambassadors and diplomats in town.

The girls are now officially overwhelmed with school. We increased their classes to include chemistry and physics. They are doing very well, but now have little free time (which is great!).

Goofy has adjusted to the new neighborhood as well. He barks at the security guards and Ponchig's mother, father and brother who also double as our complex's security dogs (yeah right).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The girl's posting on their trip to Los Angeles during Christmas

Our Trip to L.A

During our trip to L.A. we visited our friends, had shopping sprees, and enjoyed time with our family.

For our birthday we went to church in the morning and Sofia and a few of our other friends were there. Sofia brought us a cake and we had a fun time. Them we went to a Chinese restaurant with Sofia, Jenna, dahlia, and vanna. WE were so happy we were with all of our bests friends.

Another night I will never forget is Chirstmas eve. We were invited to Autie Rosins and Uncle Bobs house. Sofia, Dahlia, and vanna were there so we had a really fun time. First we took some pictures and ate. Then “Santa” came and after we went into the game room and had so much fun. We blasted music, played ping pong, and shot pool. I will always remember this night.

Chirstams day was also fun. First we opened presents, then we started making food because everyone was coming over to our grandma and grandpas house , were we were staying. We made yummy food and then all of our family came over and we had so much fun chasing the little kids around.

As soon as my alarm rang for 6:30 it was time to go after chirstmas shopping. Mom and us went to Topanga mall which just renovated and has really good shops like swarosiki jewelry store, lacoste, burberry, and abercombie. So we shopped there for about 4 hours and bought a lot of cloths. Then we went to Camarlrio and did even more shopping. We stayed there until 7 at night . We were so exhausted we were going to die. But in all we bought 2 pairs of uggs, bought about 25 books , bought all of ambercombie, some things at saks, and many many more things.

During our time in la we got together with many of our friends. We had a very fun sleepover with sofia where we watched very scary movies and ate junkfood. Then we went with our school friends to rodeo dr. and dressed in these ridicous outfits and shopped. It was really fun. Then we had a sleepover with jenna where we stayed up until 4 in the morning gossiping. We had such a fun time with our best friends.

We took a litte miny trip to las vegas with our grandparents. We stayed there for 3 days and we had amazing time. We shopped the whole time and we spent time with our grandpa and grandma.

This trip to la was really fun and we will never forget it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

But my boots don't match!

The girls went back to school today after a very, very long winter break. I woke up at about 6:00 a.m. and looked outside to see about six inches of new snow. This is kind of cool because it is officially our first snowfall (well at least since we got back to Hayastan). So, rather than being happy, excited to go back to school, etc., the girls complained "but my snow boots don't match my outfit!"

It is suppose to snow all week, lets see if it does.....

Army Day, Hatz and more!

So a few updates...

Today we decided to go to Etchmiadzin for church. We really did not realize that today was Army Day (the anniversary of the establishment of Armenia's Army), so we got to church and there were a bunch of military cars and folks around. As we approached the cathedral, we saw a line of solders. We went in and the Defense Minister and a bunch of Generals were at church. HH Karekin II did the short sermon and all in all it was pretty cool. It was snowing and we took some pictures on the grounds of Etchmiadzin. You can see the snow in the girls and Houry's hair. I have to admit it was pretty excellent seeing the protectors of our country come together with the protectors of our faith. On a side note, the girls were clearly a hit among our 18 and 19 year old solders who pretty much followed us around and smiled at the girls the entire time we were at church.

We are pretty much getting ready to move into our new apartment. We spent yesterday there cleaning and getting ready. Hopefully by Wednesday we will be ready to make the move. The developer called me today to see "when we were planning on moving in?" I asked him in return "when are you going to hook up the water, hot water and electricity?" Go figure.

This week before school starts for the girls, we went ice skating at the outdoor ice skating rink with the girls friends from the village of Mkjian. It was fun. Afterwards, we took the kids back to their home. When we got to the first girls house, the parents pretty much had a feast prepared. They had made Khorovadz in the tonur in the ground. It was really, really nice. They told us that they make about 200 loafs of Lavash at one time and cook it all, dry it, then they can store it for about 4 months. It is really, really good. They gave us about four or five loaves essentially making friends with Houry for life.

Yesterday morning (before we cleaned all day...) Houry went to a studio and was connected live via internet to the Etchmiadzin Children Fund's Gala fundraiser in LA. She did a report from Yerevan. She stressed pretty much all night about it, but she really did a terrific job. It was way fun seeing our friends live via the internet. We recognized most folks in the audience and felt almost like we were there.

I ran across a few photos of Paris that I also need to post. We walked down the cool street with all the designer boutiques. Can you figure out which store they liked the best?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

From Bridget and Kristen Regarding Our Paris Trip!

Our trip to Paris


Paris was soooooo amazing.

All the stuff people tell you that Paris is dirty or the people are rude are totally untrue. After 11 hours of flying we finally got to Paris. Our hotel was about 5 minutes away from the metro that we took to the center of Paris. The walk to the metro was amazing, the old beautiful buildings, all the cute pastry places and the one gigantic school. This school is the most gorgeous school I have ever seen. It puts Beverly Hills High School to shame. We arrived at night and walked around the champs elysees. Which is pronounced shanze le ze. This is the main streets filled with shops and cafes. The famous arch was at the end of the champs elysees. The next morning we had crepes that were super good. We went to the Notre Dame which is a magnificent church. It had really pretty stain glass windows and old looking architecture. Then we went to the famous museum called the Louve. It had the popular Mona Lisa and amazing ceiling filled with gold. The Mona Lisa was really cool because she smiled and when you looked into her eyes and moved, her eyes followed you. That night we went to the Effiel Tower. It was so windy up on top of the Eiffel Tower we had to hold on to each other and Kristen and I almost fell over! But it was absolutely beautiful. All the lights on it were sparkling; it was really pretty and huge!!!! That night it sort of sucked because it was raining cats and dogs and we got soaked. The next morning we got a late start because of our jet lag. We got on the metro and took it to the galleria La Fette. It was the most amazing mall I have ever seen it was like 6 floors and had EVERYTHING you could think of. Clothes, Shoes , Handbags, Designer clothes, Designer shoes, Designer handbags, perfume, jewelry. Makeup, manicure and pedicure places, electronics, restaurants, wedding dresses, kitchen stuff, furniture, a huge grocery store, lingerie, sunglasses, and everything else you could think of. Plus it was a gorgeous building with like gold and stain glass dome. It was somewhere you have to go before u die. After about 4 hours of shopping we went to a street, I don’t know what it was called, but it had a bunch of shops and was like Rodeo Dr. After another few hours of shopping we had dinner at this really nice restaurant. It was soooooo good. The quiche was Amazing. After dinner we went to the champs elessy and shopped more! While we were shopping we walked past a really expensive hotel and saw a bunch of people crowded around it. We were wondering what was going on because there was a bunch of papazzi around. Then I looked away for a second and saw a bunch of police cars and a limousine. The limousines window was rolled down and we saw…………BEYONCE!

She is just as pretty as she is in the movies. It was really cool.

Then next day we packed up all of our luggages and headed to Armenia. Paris is a place we will never forget!