Nar Fest

>> Thursday, March 24, 2011

I was in lovely little Goycay in November celebrating Pomegranate! There is an entire festival dedicated to the delicious fruit translated as Nar. I love this word, I never want to go back to the ridiculous English word. Too long and difficult, Nar's good enough for me. I'm going to start this, get ready. Anyways I headed out with a group of about 8 PCV's and we had an awesome time. So many Nar themed things happening. Nar dressed dancers, a big Nar that dancers came out of, karate kids, and all sorts of vendors. Sure people continued to stare at us, but in the spirit of the festival I got kind of lost in the fun of it and wasn't annoyed with the pictures.

Many villages were represented with differnt forms of Nar. Fresh, juiced, puree, etc. At many tables we were just forced to cup our hands and then forced to eat all the Nar that would fit. We were on a public street eating like little birdies.

I ate way too much but I didn't even care because Nar is my favorite color, sweet AND sour not to mention fun to open, when done correctly. I mentioned that there was a correct way to open Nar to my grandmother and mother and they seemed confused. So here's a news report where you can watch an awesome woman show you how it's done!


Valentine's Day

>> Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Valentine's Day was a great day at my school for many reasons. It gave me an excuse to finally get rid of the balloons and decorations from both Halloween and Christmas that my students loved. I simply re-decorated with V-day stuff and they loved it! Metanet and I had a little competition with the students. Whoever made the best Valentine's card wins. Here you can see all of our lovely contestants. The girls were very cute and whimsical while the boys...oh the boys. They are just so interesting. 2 of them made cut outs of animals. 2 wrote cute cards to their mothers. 3rd place was my favorite for many reasons. First he was sooooooo embarrassed. Then I see his cute little card with I love you's and I couldn't figure out why everyone was laughing so much. Come find out the cute little nugget had a color issue. He needed something brighter, the pop-up heart just wasn't bright and shiny and red enough. You know what fits that criteria? Mom's lipstick. Should we ask her? No, just sneak in her stuff smear it around a bit and get the heck out of there! He then proceeded to realize that this was more bronze-y than expected so he tried to move it around so it would get darker. So the finished product looks more or less like a pen was dragged through the lipstick.
In class I did a brief history, more common practices and rounded out with the best part. I taught each of the kids how to make those Norwegian hearts (you know the ones they use for Christmas) and that was their mailbox. Then I whipped out the boxed Valentines that my mom sent me and voila. It was amazing. We were reading candy hearts, sharing cards and Metanet even made a cake! It was so fun, they even locked the door at the bell so we could continue through their 15 minute break.

As per usual, I used the same lesson for all of my clubs to great success. Some of the girls even went home and made me more cards and extra heart mail boxes. I now have a stack of "My teacher, I love you" cards. Best Day Ever!



>> Friday, March 18, 2011

There once was a pig named Babe.

Unfortunately the past tense was actually used because babe has died. My Georgian hDad has been having medical issues and is currently having surgery in Tbilisi, Georgia. They've had Babe for a while now but to pay some bills they had to sell him off. This is the life of Babe:

I named him from the children story/movie when he was but a wee oinker. To keep him growing and pudgy he lived in this little house.

When he was tiny it seemed like an okay amount of space and I assumed he'd be allowed to run around once he got older. Alas he did not. When babe grew hungry you could hear him squeal and we'd pick up his bucket of food, open up his pen and the little sucker would dart out. He scared me every time he ran out because that little punk would buck around and flail about like a mad person. I get it, he's in a little house, but he's still a big porker. With the pen empty someone would head in with a shovel and clean the ground with a shovel, put the bucket of food on the floor and walk back out.
That gave us just enough time to move out of the way before the bucking bull stormed in and chowed down. An entire bucket of food, easily 15 liters would be gone in minutes. As he was eating the lock was put back up on his house. Then you'd see this cute little nose poke up.
Sometimes you'd hear him playing. At first I thought he was going crazy and the hFam was being mean so I went out to see him. As quietly as I could I creeped up to his house and sure enough, just like my dog used to, he was just messing around. I love me some Babe. Anytime I see another pig the hFam asks me who it is and I find some family relation to our good ol' Babe. first cousin, aunt, grandparent, fat uncle, etc. babe has given us a great inside joke and fun all around Qax. It's even more hilarious when other people come up to me and say that Babe just found a new relative. One of my students informed me that Babe's girlfriend from Georgia just came to stay with her the other day because it was inappropriate for them to stay at the same house. LOVE IT! I don't know what I'm going to tell people now that he's gone. Maybe I'll just call the next one Babe. Any ideas?


Decorating for New Year's

>> Monday, March 14, 2011

I headed over to Nona's house for just another day of fun, little did I know I'd be decorating! The second I walked in, unannounced, her mom jumped up "Finally.. let's go." Apparently she'd been waiting for me for a few days. She got a pack of streamers, a pack of cotton and a cup of water as she ushered me into the dining room. Setting all of the supplies down she showed me what to do.

Step 1: Pull out one of the streamers
Step 2: Soak a small piece of cotton in water
Step 3: Wrap the end of the streamer in the wet cotton
Step 4: Throw the cotton as hard as you can at the ceiling

Typically the process would stop here. But since I'm special I get a few extra steps:
Step 5: Yell at Lori and tell her small children can do this without it falling
Step 6: Tell her "it's okay, stop giving me that face, try again, this time not so fast"
Step 7: Breathe, she's laughing, she's your guest, don't mind that she's an idiot and can't make the simplest thing work
Step 8: High-5 her because she likes that and she finally got it
Step 9: Make your son come in and take pictures of her successfully throwing wet cotton at the ceiling

Nona and I throwing the watery cotton

Up close look at the finished product

Sparklers had to be brought out

Here's hMom, Nona, Jerry the dog and me in front of the tree.

The finished room. Happy New Year!


Ilisu, November 7, 2010

>> Thursday, March 10, 2011

A little late I know but this is one post that HAS TO HAPPEN. In my time in Qax no one has been able to make it to the fated Baths in Ilisu. Oh it's been tried. People have gone in different states of preparation, in different weather and of course different states of mind:

  • We're totally going to do this
  • There is no way this is happening
  • I don't care if we go, I just want to say I did it
  • I have to do this before I leave
  • I will destroy this legend
The outcome was always the same. NO way Jose. Sometimes the border patrol would stop people. At that far back in the mountains we are pretty close to the Azeri-Dagestani border. Many times the patrol says it's too dangerous and we'll get lost/eaten by bears/attacked by wolves/fall and die. Each time they take our passport, write it in their notebook and send us back the way we came. Well not this time. Jessica, Sean, Stephanie and I were not about to be thwarted. So we plan to go on the day of election. We figure it would be our best chance at getting past the patrol since most Azeri citizens would be voting (or at home). Our plan worked flawlessly. We all bought galoshes to help us cross the river. I'm sorry did I say all of us, well Sean thought it would be better to wear his hiking boots and then this happened. Little monkey tried to scale the mountain to find a shallower crossing. Then he changed his boots and followed us. Throughout our hike many a thing occurred. We imagined what it was like for our predecesors. Steph and I even re-enacted it and recieved an award for our great impersonations. The random like hut at the edge of one mountain turned into a mystical place where an old woman waited for us with piping hot peroshki's. IN our minds she is there all of the time waiting for travellers, always happy, peroshki's aplenty. A hummer type vehicle came and my instant reaction was to run. Then it disappeared and we still don't know if it was real. Then we came upon the two houses. They're so cute and look like a great place to come for a day (or multiple day) trip. Most Azeri's have a car drive them here. From here on out no more open car road. The mountains are even narrower than before and we couldn't see too far ahead because of how twisty the river bed was. Then I saw it.

I screamed and gave up all hope of staying dry and booked it right on through the river. I looked behind the blue tarp and saw a very dark room with very hot water running through a pipe into a bathtub. I have no clue how the heck that got there. Then I moved to the other tarp a little further up the river bed. Sulphurus water streams down the side of the mountain into a cement jacuzzi. Needless to say we stayed in the second, and we were so happy!
After who knows how long (actually about 2 hours) we decided that we had to start our return hike so we could return in some form of sunlight. I still had issues with narrow bridges so after Steph and Sean crossed Jessica cheered me on as I crawled. She might have crawled too. Almost back Jessica fell and we had a little injury. But you clear the water out of that boot and for the most part she was good. We made it safely back to my house incredibly tired. threw one of those just add water soup packets my mom sent me in a pot and we were all passed out before it was dark. Such a ridiculous tiring day. But oh so much glory. We achieved the dream and we did it with style!


Diary of a PCV - 2nd Sunday

>> Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Diary of a PCV - Saturday

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Diary of a PCV - Friday

Friday, January 21, 2011


Diary of a PCV - Thursday

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Azerbaijani Day of Remembrance


Diary of a PCV - Wednesday

>> Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Diary of a PCV

>> Friday, March 4, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2001


Diary of a PCV - Monday

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day!


Diary of a PCV - Sunday

In honor of Peace Corps turning 50!!!!!! I filmed a week of my service. There's 8 videos, one for each day. I hope it gives you a good look at my daily life as a PCV in Qax, Azerbaijan.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps

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