First days in Armenia – Part 1

It’s been an interesting transition. After a week on the road to arriving, and starting to take in that this is our new home for three months. The first days have been uneventful in some ways, but also completely filled with new impressions, people and pleasent surprises


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First of all I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything since sunday or whenever it was. It’s been a couple of days filled with lots of impressions and I’ve been tired. But it’s time to write a little bit about my first days in Armenia. If you’re just jumping into this blog we arrived on Sunday morning at 7:20 A.M. We we’re both tired and quite happy to jump off the train and rejoince in the fact that we won’t be cramped up in any confined compartment for some time. 

We wen’t into the train station and eagerly looked around for a “Emma & Leo” sign, maybe a couple of happy faces and a welcoming hug. Who knows, maybe even balloons and an audience slow clapping us for our 5 day journey but no, instead there was nothing. We started looking around for someone other than the taxi drivers that might be interested in two tired, confused travelers, still nothing. We started asking around and apparently the location where our chauffer was waiting was 10 km away from where we were. 

This is were we introduce a true superhero, I can’t think of any witty name so lets just call him our friendly neighbourhood Armenian, Armenia-man. He saw us looking slightly confused and offered to help us, asked us where our friends were, if he could call anyone and we gladly accepted his help. He called a couple of numbers we had in case we needed to get in touch with our programs and the chauffer had realised the error as well and was on his way.


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[Not pictured, Armenia-man]

with our bags finally in the cab, and on our ways we got our first glimpse of Yerevan, I got dropped off first, and said good-bye to Emma. She lived further north from me and I see what felt like my Mount Everest, the five flights of stairs that I had to carry my bags until I could finally put my powerlifting career on hold. This is where we introduce the second superhero of this trip, Margarita. She is my host mother and I’ll be living with her for the next month. 

Margarita is about the same age as my parents, very welcoming,and extremely hospitable. As soon as I arrive she greets me, shows me where my room is, tells me that if I need extra blankets, less blankets, mediumish blankets, just let her know and she’ll get right on it. She starts cooking me up some breakfast and I got curious. Curious to see if one of the stereotypes of Armenian mothers was true or not. I had a hint that it might be, since my own mother does this too. The stereotype I’m talking about is that Armenian mothers serve a normal sized person a portion that would last a village for 10 days. 

I sat down as plate after plate came to the table, a couple of sausages, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, Armenian cheese, assorted fruits, boiled eggs, crackers (salted and sweet), tea, coffee, sunflower seeds, Armenian flatbread, called lavash and sweets. And this was all just for me, she wasn’t even joning me!


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Pictured: Light Armenian mid day snack before dinner (according to Armenian mothers)

I’m her first volunteer and to be honest I couldn’t be happier to get the opportunity to stay with her. She asks lots of questions and in turn likes that I ask lots of questions. We seemed like a good fit from the start.

She also mentioned that she has three daughters, and that they we’re coming over with their husbands, and childen and treat me to a khorovats, an Armenian barbeque. I was exhausted but humbled and happy, both from their hospitality and the chance to get to practice up my Armenian. There aren’t that many Armenians in my normal every day circle back in Stockholm, apart from my family of course. Her family started arriving one by one and we started talking and getting to know each other, well truth be told I talked, they talked, and I understood like 40%. I felt sorry for them, since I had to ask them to repeat themselves, or use different wording and that wasn’t enough every time. I missunderstood them a couple of times and started giving a long answer to something nobody had asked. 

All in all it was great though, one of her daughters had baked a cake and when they left I had only one more thing to do, collapse in bed and get a good nights sleep.


Pictured: Leo Zakarian trying to have a conversation. [Watch with the sound on]


Anyways, this post is getting too long and I’ll end here and continue with part two tomorrow. we have a couple more days of impressions to capture before we’re up to date.

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