The Final Four
Winter in this part of Armenia can last for 6 months. It did last year, but not this. As I ride the train to Yerevan, the snow is mostly gone from the hills, except for the highest elevations. Heading south, there is more and more green and the trash is no longer hidden by the snow.
It wasn’t always so, but spring is my favorite season and the time when the Armenian countryside on the ride between Gyumri and Yerevan softens. They are not here yet – those white, yellow and purple wildflowers that will blanket this rock strewn wasteland with color. I happily anticipate their arrival.
Three trips to Yerevan in one month is highly unusual for me. I can find just about everything I need right here in Gyumri. Besides, trips to the capital can get expensive with meals and an overnight stay. Nonetheless, this is the beginning of the end. The final countdown.
The 1st trip was a training for the Peer Support and Diversity Network (PSDN) with the newest members. Soon the torch will be passed from the A21s to the A22s and not just shared with them.
On the ride home, climbing up a blind curved hill, the marshutni driver moves left to pass 2 cars. I quickly glance back down to the book in my lap because I don’t want to see how close we are to the car in front or worry about unseen oncoming traffic beyond the rise. Near the Shirak marz border I notice only patchy snow in the low lying areas. Rows from last season are visible in the fields not yet worked. Most of what I see will be planted for the cows and sheep to graze as they roam the countryside guided by shepherds. Closer to Gyumri, some cabbage and potatoes will be planted, but mostly food for grazing animals.
The 2nd trip was a week later to travel with fellow PCVs to our last official meeting, the COS conference. That was a week ago and it has taken me this long to recover, organize my notes and make my “to do” list. There is a lot that needs to be done by PC and PCVs alike, including medical exams and paperwork that must be submitted to close our service. One day of the conference was spent with our counterparts doing a SWOT analysis of their organizations and discussing plans for the next 3-4 months of our time together. Our goal is the sustainability of our work. From here on out, getting together with other PCVs will be strictly social and final farewells.
Approaching Gyumri, Mt. Aragots is still covered in snow, however elsewhere the snow is nearly completely gone. Day by day, on my walk to work winter’s blanket is noticeably withdrawing.
My 3rd trip is in 10 days. I’ll be in Yerevan for less than 24 hours on my way to the US. At about the same time 3 years ago, my son and I were making life-changing decisions. He went to medical school and I joined the Peace Corps. His graduation is an event, like the birth of my first grandchild, not to be missed. After a brief visit, I’ll be back in Armenia to wrap up my project, say my good byes, and plan and journey to my next adventure.