The high of the Pan-Armenian Games, even though I did not attend a lot of events since most were during work hours, could definitely be felt in the city, and at night the thousands of visitors and athletes were out on the streets enjoying all that Yerevan has to offer. It was nice to see people in orange outfits, and be lost in there with my excessive orange shirts etc. That was nice, but there was also another aspect of the groups here that bothered me a bit. Most seemed very isolated from the reality of Armenia, and I know, for all those who are getting ready to write me now, that in a week it's difficult to establish any kind of a real connection, but I also think that there is something to be said about exploring the country side and not always be sheltered in the night clubs, bars and restaurants--although that is also an essential experience in Yerevan, especially for younger people.
On Friday evening, I had the misfortune of having to assist a visiting family friend get through the bureaucratic maze of a local hospital, and let me tell you about frustrations. What really put me over the top though, was the head doctor asking me for a bribe--20,000AMD to be exact, and I just lost it. We ended up paying half that amount with a receipt to substantiate the reason for the payment, but I just wanted to choke someone in sight. And then, on Saturday, my first free day in months (free of work and tourists), I was enjoying the morning catching up on world news and having a cup of tea, when all of a sudden the cable connection went dead. I had just paid the bill, so it couldn't be that, so I decided to go upstairs to the roof to check out what was going on. I knew there was remodeling going on because I hear it every morning starting at 8 a.m. Once up there I saw that the apartment owner had decided that she was going to remodel the whole roof into a spare room for her apartment, and thus had ordered the workers to rip out all of the antennae. Of course, trying to get an explanation out of them or any kind of reasoning on the fact that they should have let us know before ripping our property out for six months was futile at best. So, the level of frustration has been high.
A friend sent me an email after I had written a brief message venting, that "the honeymoon is over." I'm not sure if I believe in that, but I do think that at some point the frustration mounts and one needs an outlet, but one also needs to see change, and that change, I keep telling myself, is why I made the move to Armenia. However slow it may be, I want to see some things change and I have to be an active participant in making it happen.
The Closing Ceremonies of the Pan Armenian Games were fantastic. Lena, Raffi and I along with some additional friends were in the stands, and seemingly the only ones brave enought to dance in the heat up there. But the field looked like a huge trampoline, on which the entire crowd of several hundred were jumping up and down in unison. A beautiful sight and a great party all together.
Having said all of this, it goes to show you that Armenia is that unique place where in a matter of an hour one can experience a myriad of emotions, from all over the spectrum. Be well.