I hesitate to write about my experience in Armenia only because it is difficult to find words to explain my emotions. Constantly being surrounded by everything Armenian amazes me every morning when I open my eyes in Yerevan.
Being a diasporan Armenian visiting his homeland simply makes everything in Armenia different, even so from everything Armenian that we have in Glendale. Speaking, listening, and reading Armenian everywhere here is obviously a natural thing to the locals, but I still find it strange as this is the first time ever I am being exposed to it. These include the greetings we receive every time we enter a grocery store, the sales receipts, the street names, etc.
Listening to lyrics like “hou-merik inch lav-ne angakh hayasdan, hayasdan anoush eh sirenk hayasdan.” and driving around in the homeland establishes an actual physical bond that was previously just a concept in my mind.
Since our landing in Armenia, we are constantly reminded that it is apricot season and are told to try some everywhere we go. We’ve eaten apricots literally everywhere; at churches, at roadsides, street corners, at the airport, in buildings, and from locals offering us apricots just to be courteous.
We visited the museum Madenataran today and saw Mesrob Mashdots’ statue, the founder of our beautiful alphabet. The museum was filled with several ancient gospels and historic texts chronicling the rich history of our literature.
Next we went to the Dzizernagapert, which is the Armenian Genocide memorial. Before visiting the memorial, we went to the Armenian Genocide museum on the grounds; there I witnessed some gruesome photos and such that I had never seen before. A couple were the Turkish plans to massacre the Armenians, photos of the deportations, a Turkish solider teasing Armenians with a loaf of bread and things that just filled my heart with pain, anger, and disbelief toward what took place during the Genocide.
After leaving and visiting Erebuni and the Pantheon, and having the chance to adjust ourselves back into the spirits of lively Yerevan, we went to watch a soccer match between our local Pyunik vs. Dinamo (some Croatian team). We went with some friends from the local HEM (Armenia’s AYF) and were in for quite a surprise. People yelling, screaming, running, chanting, the energy in the stadium was so incredible! Team Armenia jerseys were everywhere, and half of our section was standing up the entire game. We left the stadium and took our energy out into the night life of Yerevan; it was the last night we would be there for a while as we geared up to leave for Artsakh the next morning
P.S. Armenian chants were a lot of fun; stuff like, “hye-enk, hye-enk, menk hezor enk, menk hbard enk, menk bidi hakhtenk”