I took this opportunity to visit the city of Gyumri, aka Leninakan, where I lived with a wonderful host family for a month in 2007. Historical records indicate that settlements began in Gyumri as far back as the 5th Century BC. The road to Gyumri certainly felt like a path from centuries long past. Ice patches covered at least half the road as drivers reached their destinations holding their breath. At least I was. Is it really 2012? I was astounded by the beautiful, marble-covered terminal newly built at Zvartnots Airport, estimated project cost at $100 million. With that kind of financial capacity, I couldn’t help but ask, What is more important? A modern airport terminal, or safe roads in the winter? I’ll let you answer that one.
Thankfully we made it safely to my host family’s apartment after a treacherous drive. The Muguerditchians were incredible hosts to me in 2007, truly taking me in as one of their own, and when I called a few weeks ago to let them know I was coming to Armenia, the mother, a great musician with the acclaimed Kohar Symphony, recalled memories and asked questions as if we had just seen each other yesterday.
Here I am with my host sister, host mom, and host grandmother. Amazingly kind and hard working people.
Here I am with Sophia, my host sister, now 15, who has one poster hanging on her wall…Justin Bieber (of course)…and a lot of great energy and enthusiasm to live and learn. Esteve’s in there too! She’s very excited to be taking English classes at school and expand her internet savvy-ness.