Monday, March 12, 2012

Armenia: Flexibility in the Caucasus

Back in January, Jennifer, Sandy, and I settled on this past weekend to go to Armenia. This is because Jennifer had returned from her winter vacation to a whopping high electric bill in Dmanisi and had to stick close to home for awhile to save money.

.... ohhhh, wait. That was the trip to Kutaisi that we scheduled for the last weekend of February because of the above situation. But then Jennifer fell on the ice and messed up her knee so she had to cancel, and Sandy and I went without her.

So, anyway, back to Armenia.

When I learned that International Women's Day was a really big deal in these here parts - a day off from school! - I called Sandy and Jennifer with the idea of going to Armenia.

(By the way, IWD around here seems to be a day that women receive flowers and gifts from the men in their lives. Women without men in their lives feel a little sad on this day. There's something so not about womanly empowerment in this concept.)

"Yes!" said Jennifer.

"Yes!" said Sandy.

We weighed the pros and cons of getting to Yerevan, Armenia, via train, marshrutka, or shared taxi. We looked at the hostel choices. We moved our schedules around to free up Friday so we could have a full, four-day weekend. Oh, it was going to be grand!

Jennifer called a few days before the trip. Her knee had not healed; she was in a lot of pain; she had to cancel. Sandy and I were disappointed that Jennifer couldn't come, but we were still on. We booked the hostel for three nights. We reserved our places on an all-day tour to Lake Sevan and other Armenian highlights.

Sandy felt a little bummed because she had caught a cold, but she was confident it'd clear up by the time we left on Thursday morning. [Yes, this is more foreshadowing.]

On Wednesday evening, another colleague, Kathy, called and asked if it was too late to join us. No, that'd be great! We are flexible here in the Caucasus!

I reserved an additional spot on the Saturday tour. I contacted the hostel and asked for a room change to accommodate three people instead of two.

Thursday morning! Finally here! Up early and ..... beep beep beep! my phone text signaled.

Poor Sandy. She'd taken a major turn for the worse and had to cancel.

Flexibility was feeling a bit tiresome at this point, but I sent an email to un-reserve the third spot on that Saturday tour. I emailed the hostel to please make the switch back to a private, two-bed room instead of the larger space. 

Sandy and I had earlier settled on taking the marshrutka down to Yerevan, and Kathy and I stuck with that plan. We met at the Ortachala Bus Station, intending to take the 9:00 marshrutka to Yerevan (for 30 lari or $18), but we got there just as that marshrutka pulled out (before 9:00 a.m.). It was full. So we got into the 10:00 marshrutka and waited around for it to either get filled or the clock to reach 10:00 a.m., whichever came first.

We were lucky in several respects. 
  • We had several empty seats at 10:00 a.m., so things felt roomy rather than cramped. 
  • There was another TLGer and a Peace Corps volunteer on board, doubling the potential for interesting conversation.
  • A manager of the Envoy Hostel in Yerevan was also on board, returning from a visit to the soon-to-open Envoy Hostel in Tbilisi. He spoke excellent English. 

Let the adventure begin!


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