7:45 am….Unger Vrej, our group leader, walks into our room with a portable boombox over his shoulder, blasting some weird mix of Nersig Ispirian or Deadmau5. ( its usually too early to tell which one) “ Ugh Vrej… 5 more minutes…Please!” the more rebelious of the group usually moan.
7:50am….Unger Tornado Vrej, storms back into our room, pulls our thin sheets off our winning faces, occasionally flipping someoneʼs mattress upside down; causing a domino effect of our 10 kilo Armenia pillows falling onto the hard ground, followed by all of our bedside items and finally our tired bodies.
8:00am….We sit around the large table in the front patio, with our new best friends, the crazy bees of Artsakh; who love to do backflips in our tzmeroug juice. Babo, our host grandmother, brings us our bread and պաﬕտորով յուղուձու. (thats Kharabagh-zi lingo for eggs, tomato and oil juice.) Our main entree is usually bread, the eggs are always secondary.
8:45am….Weʼre about to leave for camp…Vrej storms out from the bathroom…its clogged… again. We sit through his 10 minute spiel about how the Artsakh toilets donʼt have the same turbo-jet power as our transformer toilets in America. We somehow tangent off from toilets to Optimis-Prime. Everyone gets a bucket, fills it with water and rushes into the house to begin the flushing out process.
9:00am….Our 12 person Mob, all dressed in black, rushes out of the house. Now we wait for the number 16 aftobus. We walked to the school the first two days of camp, no one agreed to do it a third time. We stand on one side of the street and spot a number16 bus on the other side. We run there to find that itʼs going in the opposite direction from our school. We see another bus. Itʼs heading our way. It stops at the bus stop. Being the Americans that we are, we donʼt walk to the bus stop but rather wait for the bus to come to us. ( we wonʼt do it again tomorrow though)
9:35am… On the bus we got many glares and stares from the older deghatzisʼ, not to mention the fact that Raffi got a nice beating from the uncensored Soviet bus doors. Keep in mind it takes 28 minutes to walk to the school. We get off the aftobus in 35; and one stop too early at that. As we got off, we watched one of our kids from camp wave back at us, as the bus drove away to the bus stop right in front of camp.
9:43am…We finally get to the blue gates of the թիւ 2 school, dedicated to the Fedayi Ashod Tourian,“Pegor”. 40 new fresh faces ran up to us begging to join our Janbar in Stepanagert. We couldnʼt reject their eager puppy dog faces. A rush of excitement pierced through us all as we distributed them into the three groups.
10:00am… “Մեր Հայրենիք, Ազատ անկախ…” Day 3. Camp begins with 150 people.
10:30am…English lessons begin. In case you think itʼs easy to teach tri-lingual children how to speak English ( they know Armenian, Kharabagh remix Armenian and Russian), itʼs really not. But after much struggle we were able to figure out how to describe a verb and what itsʼ translation is in Armenian (բայ).
11:30am… Getting through the first lesson, we tried teaching the kids how to play heads up seven up, you know the one we would play in 7th grade. Epic Fail. We moved onto Freeze dance, you probably played this in 5th grade. It went a little better.
12:15pm…The Artakh-zi kidsʼ favorite activity, singing revolutionary songs. These kids learn an Armenian revolutionary song faster than an American kid can eat a Big Mac. Fast forward through lunch ( the main entree again was bread), an educational about health and smoking, a lot of Nersik and dancing, and some good old fashion AYF camp Butt volleyball. The kids went crazy…the red blue orange competition officially began. Կա-պուտ Կա պուտ!!!
4:00pm…Exhaustion and Fatigue has taken over. Everyone is relieved yet sad that camp is over for the day. Khachig begins to smile from excitement. ( we usually donʼt let him smile for too long, it ends up looking creepy). Of course Tamar is չէնէ-ing it up outside with some of the kids, our patience wears thin. We want to go home already.
4:15pm…The walk to the մարշրուտկա ( the local word for aftobus) finally begins. A group of campers follow us on the same path home. We all look like the little բադիկներ, Vrej can be considered our mama բադիկ.
4:17pm…we stop at a store for ice cream and watermelon. Levon comes out with a bag of junk food. “Bro I just bought all of this for $7!”
4:20pm…we stop at another store for ice cream. Rita stops at every store she sees in order to find this one type of hazelnut ice cream she had in Hayasdan 5 years ago.
5:00pm…We enter the gates of the house, pass the giant meat truck parked in the driveway along with all our hanging laundry, Babo greets us at the door and we all run to the ground floor; to the new home we created for ourselves Stepanagert.