Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Another trip to the Village

The drive to the village was especially pretty this week, as the
temperatures dropped quite substantially, and a series of rain and
wind storms cleaned the smog out of the whole country. Yerevan is
built in a valley surrounded by hills to the North and East. Behind
those hills you can see that there is an even larger valley created by
Mt. Aragats to the North, Mt. Ara to the East, and Mt. Ararat
showcased to the Southeast. The mountains are all snow caped and
during the drive up and around the base of Aragats, I drove through
snow flurries in the town of Aparan (the halfway point).
Entering the town of Aparan a police tried in vain to pull me over
for speeding, I was probably going 65 kilometers per hour and I think
there might have been a sign saying it was 50 km/h. The siren and
flashing headlights were just not convincing enough for me and he only
moved his car about 50 meters, before giving up the "chase." I was on
the look out for the police on the other end of town but it wasn't
until after the next village did they stop me, this time they were out
of the car and flagging me down, again there was a special 50 km/h
sign, and they apparently clocked me at 84 km/h. I stayed in the car
with my seatbelt on and waited, a suggestion from a friend, who said
getting out of the car means you want to negotiate.
So, let me explain the driving rules I just learned, the open road
speed is 90 km/h, and town or village speed is 60 km/h, unless
otherwise posted. I tried to explain I thought it was an unfair speed
trap, coming around an uphill turn out of a village into a specially
marked danger zone, but that didn't work. They said the fine was
10,000 drams ($30), but would reduce it to 5,000 drams, this meant
from a ticket to a bribe. There are really three options, ticket,
bribe, and warning, since our goal is not to pay bribes, so I
continued to slowly deliberate with the police officers. Seeing I was
getting no sympathy with my standard pleas of just learning the rules,
and being here to help build homes for poor people, I tried my newest
tactic. I have a copy of all of the driving laws in Armenian, so I
brought it out and asked the police officers if they could show me
exactly which rule I broke and what the fine was. After about 30
seconds of flipping through the fine print, one officer shouted under
his breath, just give us money! To which I patiently waited for them
to show me the rule and 10 more seconds later he was handing all of my
documents back to me and saying don't drive fast anymore. I heeded
there warning and enjoyed the scenery, and drove 60 through remaining
villages and was passed by cars, trucks, and even a car with three
sheep in the back seat.
Lusaghbyur and two other villages nearby were without power for three
days, this stalled work on the house, and left Vartan and Vahan
freezing in the village with no heat and nothing to do, they retreated
to Vanadzor until the power returned. They have made quite a bit of
progress all interior walls are built, doors and windows are
installed, and rough electrical and plumbing is done, and the particle
board floor installed. The bathroom fell a little behind as they still
need to pour the concrete floor, then tile the floor and walls. They
were doing finish carpentry of baseboard and casing, and will paint
once the tile work in the bathroom is done.
After attempting to drive home late last week after being warned that
it was dangerous, I now agree that in Armenia in a Niva driving
outside of the city at night is dangerous. A person can hardly see
the white line in the center, and the edge of the road is even harder
to find, and other driver are just fine to pass with high-beams on,
the real fun came when some one tries to pass on a turn leaving little
road left to find in the dark. So I left early and in a 10 hour round
trip I was in the car for 6 hours, back before dark and glad to be
back with the family.

1 comment:

Garo Family said...

Thank you for the update on the construction.