Sunday, 8 August 2010

Armenia, Part 3

So it's been a while because we have been camping and so in a land of no Internets. Since my last post, time has passed roughly as follows:

Friday: visited a cultural museum/historic site with Simona & Lilit (two young Guide Leaders who have been guiding us around Yerevan and accompanying us to the recruitment/activity days). This was followed by a visit to an Armenian/Lebanese restaurant which had been pointed out to us on our evening walking tour of the city. We each ordered between one and two dishes which came out in an arbitrary order spread over much time. In the UK this would have driven a diner to despair, but here it was nice to watch the dishes come out and to be able to sample everything because your own hadn't appeared yet. I really liked the garlic and herb potatoes Tina and Cara ordered. After a while, the gentleman on the table behind us started to talk to us and kept 'offering' to buy us things... with our answers making little impact on their ability to appear on our table anyway. Some champagne, water, ice cream and cake later we escaped quickly before the promised coffees also arrived! Having spent many more hours in the restaurant than intended our early night went astray that night and instead we stayed up packing and preparing for...

Saturday: An early start to get everyone through their last shower in a while. The owner of the apartment knocked on the door at 8am and we pulled our bags out and handed over the key. We headed downstairs and raided the shops of their chilled bottled water and picked up a little bread for breakfast. Next time to cram ourselves into two taxi's - six young women plus a large rucksack and small daysack each, plus two bags of resources and two tents. Struggled for a long time to communicate the fact that we'd rather have the bags on our laps than to pile them all into the boot and drive along with it open: eventually it looked like we had it all sussed - until we stopped to pick up Simona! As lightly as the Armenian's packed for a week's camp (think weekend bag at the most) this just didn't all fit and so one-too-many bags were thrown in the boot. Fortunately all the bags made it to our drop off point outside the Armenian Guide HQ (a flat and two garages in an apartment block); we pulled everything out and munched our breakfast as we waited for more girls and leaders to arrive. Some time later (this is another of those countries that operates in it's own unique timezone - everything runs to Armenia time) we piled our luggage onto a taxi trailer thing and climbed onto one of two yellow buses. Unlike many of the minibuses we have traveled on in Yerevan, this bus was pretty lightly loaded and everyone had a seat... until we stopped part way to pick up some extras! I can't imagine overfilling a Guide camp coach back in the UK.

Approximately two hours and one drink stop later we made it to near the campsite. The buses and luggage taxi pulled up at a set of gates and we all hopped off and walked the short way up to the field in which we would be camping. The next hour or two were spent sorting out bags, pitching tents etc. - all the usual Guide camp shenanigans. Once done we took a quick wander to explore: the field was situated between a number of disused buildings in varying states of decay which provided excellent sources for materials for the toilet and kitchen which were being assembled by the boys that girls had brought along for exactly this purpose (and for staying up over night to ensure the site was secure). As is often the way on the first day of camp, timescales slipped and both lunch (bread, salty cheese, ham, cucumber and tomato) and dinner (bread, salty cheese and potato) were served fairly late - bucking the trend, the GOLD team went to bed early :)

Sunday-Thursday: Camp days were varied but shared many common features:
  • Morning exercises - the campers were divided into three teams within which they performed chores, completed group challenges (e.g. deriving a song, sports races) and exercises each morning. Somehow the GOLD team managed to avoid being available for the exercise sessions on all but one occasion.
  • Meals - all included two large hunks of brown bread, often with salt and/or salty cheese
  • Sun - lots of sitting out in the sunshine reading, knitting, writing diaries and generally sitting far more quietly than we ever would when camping back in the UK.
  • Training sessions - we ran a total of six sessions for between 18 and 20 young Guiders. Our topics were: Leadership (Sunday), WAGGGS Global Action Theme (Monday), Guiding Traditions (Monday), Environment (Tuesday), Camp Skills (Tuesday), PR & Recruitment (Wednesday). The sessions all went very well and we had a lot of positive feedback which is always nice.
  • Evening entertainment - the girls largely amused themselves of an evening; typically either sat around a campfire or by dancing to tracks from a selection of CDs that had been brought to camp.
Friday: This was the final day at camp and so it was time to pack up, strike camp and head back to Yerevan. Staying at the hostel for the first time it was now time to enjoy a fantastic shower - also appreciated was the clean and luxurious toilet facilities (certainly in comparison to those at camp). Once we all felt human again it was time to head out and pick up some bits and bobs from the SAS supermarket ready to make dinner. Cara and I knocked up something that resembled fajitas - very much appreciated after the restricted camp diet.

Saturday: A free day in Yerevan. Simona, her sister visiting from Germany and the two Lilits (we met another at camp) took us to the weekend market. Despite setting off at 10:30am to avoid the worst of the heat, it was still baking but we managed to enjoy seeing the many things on sale and to grab ourselves some bargains:

GOLD Team via Lilit: "How much?"
Stall Owner via Lilit: 1000 dram
GOLD Team via Lilit: "Why so expensive?"
Stall Owner via Lilit: 700 dram
Stall Owner via Lilit: OK, 400 dram

Following our market adventure we headed back to the hostel to cool down and prepare for the following day's activity/recruitment session. A little chill out time then before we headed out for dinner at Simona's family home (the metro there cost 50 dram each - less than 10p). Her mum cooked a beautiful meal and then we relaxed with a little Bingo before getting a taxi back to the hostel.

Sunday (Today): The first of our post-camp activity days. Again we took the metro to Simona's and she helped us get the right bus to a school in Yerevan which is where the activity day was to be held. We headed upstairs to a hall and set up our four activity stations. Despite arriving late, we still had to wait for some of the girls to arrive before we got going with a song and some parachute games. We then divided into four groups to do our GirlGuiding jigsaw and then stayed in those groups as we rotated around our four activity stations (pen topper people/yarn lions, juggling balls/balloon animals, card-making and balancing clowns/go fish). The room in which we held the activity day was very warm and rather dusty. Very shortly after the start I abandoned my flip flops as they were sliding off my feet - as a result, by the end of the sessions my feet and parts of my legs were looking quite black. We finished the activity day with a wonderwall quiz game and taps. We then headed back to the hostel with some stopping off to grab some food shopping on the way.

Cara and I were first back to the hostel with the resources bag and I hopped straight into the shower to cool off and get some of the dust off my feet; I even took the flip flops in with me in the hope that they might look a little cleaner once I was done. Whilst I was in the shower, the others came back with some mince, pasta and vegetables and Rachel and Lorraine started working on some spaghetti bolognese. Fast forward an hour or so and we're all now well fed and enjoying some time out for a change.

Tomorrow we have a relatively quiet day but a training in the evening. This one isn't really planned yet so that's the morning sorted too!

2 comments:

  1. Armenia! That sounds like an amazing experience :-)

    ReplyDelete

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