Coffee is a main stay of life here in Armenia. It is offered whenever you meet someone new and on a typical day you might drink five cups. My Balkans friends will know what I’m talking about when I say it is strong, one spoon full of coffee grounds for about a shots worth of water. In this area of the world from Bosnia to Iran and all in between you will find this thick dark brew. So with coffee being such a main stay its important to always have access. Sitting in the teachers’ lounge the other day I watched as a teacher prepared a cup. The heater is a set of electric coils that get hot set in a clay mold that eventually boils the water. This particular heater had had its electric cord spliced and re-taped in three different places before inserting itself into the bottom of the bulky heater. As it was heating the water sparks began to fly and the heater fizzled out. In America this means time for a new one (actually the electric cord breaking the first time means time for a new one) but when money is little and ingenuity is high you don’t throw it away. So she took out her ink pen with the heater still plugged in and spitting sparks she drove the sharp end of the pen into the hot coils and moved them around for a while. I watched in amazement wondering if when she was inevitably shocked if her hair would stand up on end and if she’d turn transparent so I could see her Skeleton like they portray in the movies. But she just kept fidgeting with the heater as I kept thinking to myself that I should really stop her before she kills herself. But persistence paid off and the coils shot back to life. A few minutes later she enjoyed that cup of coffee that I thought was going to cost her her life.
In other news Saturday I attended a hockey game in Yerevan where I saw North Korea beat the South African hockey team 4 to 2. The stadium was a beacon of Soviet architecture with its huge marble columns and bulky square hallways. We got to the game with twenty minutes to spare expecting to have to really search for seats in the 2,000 plus seat arena but amongst the 100 or so other spectators we managed to find some good seats right behind the two teams.
I also managed to lose my voice at some point and so when I got back to my site I wanted to buy some orange juice but I didn’t have quite enough money with me. So in my pitifully quite voice I asked if I could get the juice and bring the money tomorrow and in such a small community where you really do know your neighborhood grocer he gave me the juice and now I’m on my way to pay him back.