Thursday, June 9, 2016

On the Road: Armenia


In the Armenian language the people call their homeland Hayastan. This was a country I had not originally intended to visit. A year ago I’d know next to nothing about it or the Caucasus region. But while traveling the world I had innumerable discussions with other tourists. Half the time someone brought up a place I’d not been, and in the case of Armenia, I'd heard only good things. So at some point I made up my mind to visit. That decision led me to Tbilisi, in Georgia. I arrived at night by plane and stayed in the airport until morning. Thus began my delightful tour of the region. Christianity had taken hold in the 4th century making Armenia and Georgia the oldest Christian countries. They are both predominately Orthodox with few self-proclaimed Atheists. Armenia adheres to the Oriental Apostolic tradition and though liberal in some ways, the rules governing familial conduct remain conservative. Couples are not allowed to live together before marriage, people marry within their own religious denomination, and family loyalty trumps all other aspects of society. For me as a tourist, this meant little. I was more impressed by the friendliness and curiosity that the locals extended towards foreigners. I visited after going first to Georgia, but because I’d later return to that country to see more, the chronology here is again off.
Armenian National Flag

I arrived directly in the Armenian capital by bus and found a hostel in the center. According to the Lonely Planet guidebook, Yerevan was the former USSR’s finest example of architectural planning. Before the Russians had made it a regional capital it’d been a small provincial town, albeit one with a long and storied history. The planners laid out a proper grid-like center with concentric circles at the edge. They designed the city for 150,000 people but it soon grew to double and triple that number. The pinnacle of their efforts was Republic Square with the Ministry of Transport and Government House buildings. Elsewhere in the city center were other fine places to see such as the Cascade and Opera House. The Cascade was a big stair case that led up a hill and offered a great view of Yerevan. In the far distance Mt. Ararat was also visible, but when I went the large peak was hidden behind clouds. As for the city's eateries, I could have a very nice meal for two dollars such as a small pizza or shawarma wrap. I was eating so much I started to put on weight. Cheese, bread and meat entered my daily diet in large amounts too. At the same time I met many people in Yerevan who were health nuts. They made me feel bad for not being vegetarian (though not in an intentional way). Two people I met only ate raw vegan food. From my perspective both looked very skinny. Part of it had to do with fasting as well.

At my hostel there also stayed two guys from France. They’d already met some other people in the city and I tagged along for drinks. First we had wine at an outdoor cafĂ©. After that we stopped in at an underground bar. The place was packed for a weekday with a good mix of locals and expats. Most the people in our group were living in Yerevan. For example, one French woman worked at a language institute and another guy at the Swiss embassy. The way everyone knew each other, I had the feeling that in Yerevan resident foreigners formed a tight circle. Drinking seemed to be the glue that held them together. No shame in that. I too partook, opting for Kilikia beer. A 500ml bottle cost only about $1.50 and I downed several. That was enough of the Yerevan social scene for me. The other thing left to do in the city was visiting the museums. The History Museum of Armenia, immense in size, had several rooms covering the long history of the country. Cave men had once lived in the region and their tools were on display in glass cases. Countless other displays represented the varied historic periods, separated by this or that kingdom, or an invasion by outsiders, finally ending with the Ottoman and Russia Eras. It was too much for me to read and that's saying something because I fancy history. While I was absorbing this huge load of information, it would have been nice to use my camera, but taking photos was not allowed.

While in Yerevan I had the privilege of staying with two hosts. Both I met after I’d left Yerevan to travel elsewhere in Armenia. Vahagn, my first host, I had come across in the south. He lived with his parents outside the city center where the buildings were from the Soviet era--large and blocky. The man was two years my senior and I was interested in the Armenia of his youth, when the country had still been a Soviet Socialist Republic. He told me that the collapse had happened while his family was on vacation at a lake resort. On their way home a dumbfounded shop owner had broken the news. Another thing I recall is that Vahagn was an avid bicyclist. His bike had the widest tires I’d ever seen, and supposedly contained no innertubes. It was also the only fat tire bike of its kind in the city so he got a lot of attention riding around on the streets. While he wasn’t out and about, Vahagn was a very good host and went out of his way to make me feel at home. The timing of my arrival though was not good. Vahagn’s father was due for an operation so after only one night he passed me onto a friend named Arthur. I understood the situation and didn’t mind. Besides Arthur was a very fascinating guy. As a spiritualist he believed in a holistic approach to near everything. Most insightful was his take on the dynamism of life. He said that the past is not something we should hold on too because it’s the future that matters, and that only through change can we continue to better ourselves, including which people we choose to surround ourselves with. It’s not that people are good or bad, but rather, we need those who are relevant to us now and move us towards our current goals.
Playing Chess
Art for Sale
City Flowers
Above the Cascade
Soviet Architecture
Empty Cafe
Cascade at Night

Let it be said that there is no love between Armenia and Turkey. The reason is historical. Until the end of WWI, Armenia was a part of the Ottoman Empire. In an attempt to revitalize their decaying empire, a group of progressive minded politicians known as the Young Turks wrested power away from the monarchy and instituted a constitution. Part of this reform included the forced Turkification of the empire’s other ethnic groups. The Armenians proved a problem. They refused to convert to Islam, and moreover, they were a physical impediment in the way of the Young Turks vision of Pan Turkism. Armenia stood between Turkey and modern day Azerbaijan, the one Turkic region in the Caucasus. The final solution was to eradicate the empire of its Armenians. When WWI erupted the Young Turks took advantage of the situation and began killing able-bodied Armenian men.  In the following years the bloodshed continued until an estimated one and a half million Armenians were dead, in what can only be described as genocide. The horrid sequence of events is chronicled at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex in Yerevan. I visited the site which had a circular monument overlooking the city. Nearby was the museum with its many exhibits and haunting images.

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of Turkey, East Armenia became briefly independent, while the western half went to the Turkey along with Mt. Ararat. According to the Bible, that was where Noah’s Ark had struck land. Already depopulated of Armenians, many of the former towns in the region remained abandoned including the once magnificent Ani, ‘The City of 1001 Churches.’ As for newly formed East Armenia, its leadership sought revenge. In what was called Operation Nemesis, they had trained men hunt down and kill many of the political figures who had been responsible for the genocide. In one instance an Armenian named Soghomon Tehlirian shot and killed former Ottoman Minister of Interior Talaat Pasha in Germany. Tehlirian was later acquitted of the crime by German authorities and returned to Armenia a national hero. Operation Nemesis eventually became disrupted when East Armenia ended up under the control of the Soviets. Lenin had struck a deal with then Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the two men maintained their respective halves. Under the USSR the Armenians again suffered religious persecution. Later, when Stalin succeeded Lenin, he further screwed them over by giving a large part of their territory to Azerbaijan. The discontented Armenians were understandably one of the first people to strongly push for independence following the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1991 they were at last successful.

To this day the Turkish government denies that any genocide ever took place. The country’s leaders instead claim that at the time many Armenians had collaborated with Russia against the Ottoman Empire and died as traitors. And as was the case with other people in the empire, the Armenian population had suffered from starvation, disease and displacement as a result of the war, hence the high number of deaths. While there is some truth to this, testimony from survivors and foreign eyewitnesses indicate that much of the killing had been deliberate and systematic in nature. Moreover, the Turks had targeted unarmed civilians the same as combatants. So the two sides differ in their view and this has strained the relationship between the countries. There is currently no open crossing along their shared border and their refusal to trade with one another has hurt both economically. To make the situation more difficult Turkey continues to support Azerbaijan, with whom Armenia is also at odds, and the country is wedged right between the two. With Russia things are better. Armenia has a mutual defense treaty with them and there are Russian soldiers posted Along the Armenian-Turkish border to ensure that the Turks (and their US allies) don’t get any ideas.
Genocide Memorial Flame
Inside Museum
Image of Victim

I’d been traveling for two months full on, moving places every few days. So I needed to stop and take a break. Why not volunteer again? I checked on the website and contacted a host who had an eco camp in the southern Armenia town of Kapan. A few days later I was taking a shared taxi from Yerevan. Unfortunately, it broke down on the way, but after a long delay in which some mechanics came and fixed the problem, I arrived and met with the host Armen and his wife Siranush. They lived near the center of town in an apartment that doubled as the office for their business, ARK Armenia. Two other volunteers had also come to help, as well as the organization’s content manager, Karine. The latter was an American who was living in Armenia. Every so often Karine would visit Kapan to do work for Armen, though most the time she was managing the website online from her apartment in Yerevan. The other volunteers were a Canadian woman and Belgian guy. We had dinner together not too long after I’d arrived. Sirnaush had prepared typical Armenian food and it was delicious. In retrospect I should have watched her cook during my stay in Kapan to learn a dish or two. No matter the place I’m always up for improving my culinary repertoire. Perhaps one day Siranush will give cooking classes. But not yet.

As volunteers we stayed the night in the Kapan Camp, 1.5km from the center of town. It was up on a hill in a green area. The eco camp had three simple huts with two bunks each. There was also a small kitchen and place for a shower. The rest of the land was for gardening and raising crops. A work in progress, the camp was in need of weeding and other tasks to get it ready for the upcoming tourist season (June-August). I did what I could to make it nicer. For example, one morning I used a small hand sickle to cut wild grass around the perimeter. The job would have been much easier with a lawnmower and /or, but in Armenia both were uncommon. When not at the camp I usually dropped by the office to help with the Internet side of the business. We had to update the website. Part of that required us to hike the trails in the area and map them on GPS. The first trail we took was to Baghaberd, a fortress that dated back to the 5th century. Its builders chose to erect it on a rocky hill with penetrating views into the nearby river gorge and mountain valleys. Now in ruins it had little more than a few stone walls. Still, the spectacular panorama was well worth the 2km hike from the highway. While we were up there I took plenty of photos. Karine included some in the webpage. Hopefully the pictures will inspire tourists to come to Kapan to see Baghaberd for themselves.

The Kapan Camp aside, Armen also managed a second accommodation site in the village of Aradjadzor. It was actually a summer home that belonged to his family. In the Russian language such a place was called a ‘dacha’ and that was what it went by. This Dacha also needed some fixing up. I helped to clear weeds and blackberry bushes. Many thorns ended up poking me in the legs, and I pulled my back raking brambles, but I toughed through the laborious task without complaint. Another day I painted some rusted railings. It was all hard physical labor. Perhaps had I done such work for more than a few days in a row, I’d have tired of working outside in the sun. But for the time I was in Kapan, I was happy to be of good use. Moreover, because of the house’s location in the mountains, the surrounding area had plenty of hiking trails. We charted one that led the way to Kapan, and to an old fortress called Halidzor. This was a long walk—4 hours—through thick forest. The uphill part I liked the most. I can’t really explain why but the challenge of forcing myself up a steep incline brings something out of me. If I take on a good pace I might not even rest, wanting instead to reach the top first. Anyhow, the opportunity to hike the trails was something that made my volunteering experience in Kapan an exceptionally great one.

If there is anything to add, it’s how Armen was almost entirely blind. He’d lost his sight over the course of a decade, and realizing that he’d no longer be able to work as a banker, Armen learned massage. He became licensed and later went to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. At the time he massaged world class athletes for $50 an hour. In Kapan though he only asked for $10 and was able to maintain a steady clientele. Because I’d done so much physical work for him, Armen gave me one for free. His firm hands dug the tension out of my lower back and shoulders. In place of lotion, which he didn’t have at the time, he used vegetable cooking oil. It worked surprisingly well. Armen talked too while he moved his hands. I can’t recall exactly what it was he said though. Probably he was going on and on about Russia. A self confessed Russophile who’d spent years in the country he loved the place and defended its position in the world. For example, Armen was a supporter of President Vladimir Putin. He’d remarked that Putin was a product of America’s disrespect for Russia after the break up of the Soviet Union. The West had made Russia feel weak and betrayed by false promises of acceptance into politics.. With the rise of Putin the country became strong again, at least in regards to its foreign policy. Economically things aren’t so well though.
Town Fountain
Dinner Time
Fortress in the Distance
Cute Pup
On the Way Up
From Baghaberd
Kapan Buildings
Armen in front of Dacha

My days in Kapan coincided with the arrival of an exploration team from Yerevan. The three guys were an Italian, Brit and Armenian. For six months it was their job to find hiking trails in Armenia that would cover the distance from Megri in the south to the Georgian border in the north. Another team in Georgia was doing something similar. The hope was that in a few years they would succeed in creating and marking a Transcaucasian trail for hiking enthusiasts. Several sponsors were providing money and equipment to assist the team in their mission. One was Land Rover. They had lent the team a 2016 Defender (a beastly looking vehicle someone had christened 'Georgina'). The Land Rover could tackle the rough roads that gave access to hiking trails in the more remote parts of the country. Kapan turned out to be a place of this type. The team had contacted Armen earlier for information. In return they would help him find trails that would provide further incentive for tourists to visit. This was Armen’s overall focus, to get more people to come to Kapan by spreading awareness by any means possible.

The de facto leader of the team was the Brit, Tom. He was living in the capital with his Iranian Armenian wife. An adventurer by nature Tom had spent four years touring the world on a bicycle. Now his expenses were being covered so that he could chart the forgotten trails of Armenia. I thought it quite funny. In most countries the locals do not hike for recreation, especially not if it requires overnight gear. Once cars came into use and roads were paved, the foot trails that had once led from place to place fell largely out of use. It seems that only shepherds and hunters frequent them nowadays, and those in the Kapan region are overgrown and difficult to follow. Yet that was what the team had come to do. As much as I like hiking I did not envy them. There were several possible options to cover in the one region alone and not the time or enough people to do it. So they went with what they thought were the most crucial connection points and left the rest for later.

I joined them in the Land Rover one afternoon to drive an already charted trail. They wanted to see it to confirm that it would fit into their overall plans and because I’d already walked the route, I acted as navigator. The trail was originally created as a vehicle path for 4x4 vehicles. The Land Rover, for the most part, handled it very well. The problem was that the trees lining the road had branches dipping down low and they smacked against the top of the car. The big ones left scratches. Someone joked that they were battle scars gained in the name of completing their mission. I shrugged thinking that it did not concern me how the car ended up when they returned it. That was between the team and Land Rover. I noticed that the team also had other cool stuff at their disposal. They’d received a drone to take aerial pictures. The guys were afraid to use it though, for fear of crashing and damaging the thing. The other equipment such as computers and cameras they’d brought on their own. Vahagn was the photographer of the group and he took even more photos than me. I was thinking his level of commitment was because he’d arrived in Kapan to work. But he later admitted that he just liked using gadgets. Anyhow, we connected in part thanks to our mutual passion for photography, and I was happy to later spend more time together in Yerevan.
Spring Leaves
Tom on the Land Rover
ARK Crew
Nearby Tatev Monastery
Up Close

The self declared Republic of Nagorno Karabakh is the region to the east of Armenia between it and Azerbaijan. Until the end of Soviet times it was part of Azerbaijan, but the majority of people living there were Armenian and the land had historically been part of Armenia.  After the collapse of the USSR, Nagorno Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. This sparked a full out war that lasted from 1992 to 1994. Armenia sided with Nagorno Karabakh and to this day occupies the zone militarily for its own protection. Tension remains high in the region with continued fighting on a smaller scale along the border with Azerbaijan. The last incident was in April 2016, only the month before I visited Armenia. One might think it stupid to enter the republic at such a time, but from what I’d gathered talking to other travelers, most the region was safe. So when I was ready to visit, I got a ride in with a French couple who’d also been in Kapan. We needed to first stop by the immigration office in the capital of Stepanakert. The officer gave us each a full page visa. Then we were free to explore. We stayed the night in a town called Shushi, some 10km outside of Stepanakert. It was on a hill and had old defensive walls and a prominent church. It had two mosques as well. They’d been abandoned after the war when the Armenians drove Azeri (Azerbaijanis) Muslims out of the region.

From Shushi we hiked the next day through Hunot Gorge. The trail wound through thick, mossy forest along a river that had risen with rainwater. In some parts the trail became lost underwater and we had to wade through up to our thighs. At the end we reached the small village of Karin Tok. Even before we could get our bearings an old villager waved us over and invited us to his home for coffee. He was there with his family and friends and the coffee led to food and alcohol. None of the locals could speak English. So I had to again rely on my poor Russian to communicate. We spoke over shots of Armenian vodka—a strong, foul concoction that I was loathe to swallow. The alcohol at least made it easier for my Russian to flow. But I still had trouble understanding. The men were talking mostly about the war with Azerbaijan. The French couple and I were intent on learning from them so we kept listening. It seemed they placed the blame on Azerbaijan and lamented that they’d gone from friends with Azeris as children to becoming enemies as adults. After a few hours I found a guesthouse in the village while the French couple returned to their hotel in Shushi. The guesthouse’s host was a kind woman named Guyane. She showed me to my room and put on a video. Oddly it was a compilation of sexy music videos with lots of topless big breasted women. Not that I was displeased by this. It just made me feel uncomfortable sitting and talking with Guyane while the videos played in the background, my eyes constantly drawn to the screen.
Stepanakert Monument
Mosque Minaret
Trail Marker
Attempt to be Wild
Local Boys
Awesome Waterfall

I continued hiking into the mountains of Nogorno Karabakh for another two days. I was alone, not another person in sight on the trails. And because I did not have GPS or a map, I got lost from time to time, and had to back track to where I’d last seen a trail marker. They were not as frequent as I would have liked. But I managed to arrive in Avetaranots, another village where I stayed with Zamira, the sister of Guyane. She spoke no English. No one in her family did. I sat with them and other friends who worked in the nearby vineyards while we ate dinner and drank Armenian vodka. The table was outside and heavy rain arrived with nightfall. I was worried it would continue through to the next day, but it didn’t. I awoke with a hangover and took a look out the window to see clear blue skies. After saying goodbye to everyone I made my way along the muddy trail toward my next destination, the town or Karmir Shuka. The trail wound through small villages and expansive countryside, and then linked up with a paved highway. This last part I did not enjoy as I trudged on to Karmir Shuka. In the hills beside the city, the trail led to a 2,000 year old platan tree. Its lower trunk was completely hollowed out and had enough ground space to park two cars. I took photos and had a rest at a bench.

I’d already noticed a group of local men eating bbq at a covered seated area some 50m away. I knew if I said hello, they’d invite me to their table and make me drink copious amounts of alcohol. I avoided their area and all eye contact to no avail. One of them walked over anyway and asked me in Russian where I was from and if I was Christian. My answers seemed to please him because he took me by the arm and led me to the others. I ate some of the food they had prepared and had a shot of vodka. The liquor caught in my throat and after a coughing fit, I switched to wine. Then we talked some. Again I used the limited Russian I knew. An hour later the men drove me back to the main highway and I decided it was time to return to Shushi to pick my things up at the guesthouse I’d left them at. A friendly truck driver took me as far as Stepanakert. I had to hitch up another road to get to Shushi. The guys who picked me up insisted I join them for drinks and bbq. Though I was tired and tried to refuse, they dragged me along like a sheep to slaughter. In their car we went back to Hunot Gorge where I’d hiked only two days before. We had to walk down to the river to join a group of their friends. In total we were six guys and two boys. When it came time to eat we sat in an abandoned stone hut and gnawed at grilled pork. There was of course alcohol too. It was the custom to do shots and make a toast each time. Though we communicated in Russian, I understood how one toast was for their friend who had died in the war. That struck a chord with me. I’ve done countless toasts in my life but nonthing that had felt as meaningful.

The group lived in Stepanakert and passed me on to their friends who would take me to Shushi. It was already after dark with light rain. I squeezed in the back alongside three others. They were all young, maybe in their late teens, and fascinated to have foreigner in the car. One guy recorded the entire 20min ride on his phone. The guys shouted into the camera, one sat outside the window, smoked a joint, and almost forced me to continue drinking. The experience was more than I could handle. With three days of exhaustion built up inside me, I escaped at the end and headed to my guesthouse. I had trouble finding it because I’d only walked the area before during the day. Thankfully, a local helped me get there. I then had tea with the host, a talkative Romanian woman who’d moved to Armenia, before gathering my things and going to the larger mosque in town. Falling apart and overgrown with weeds it was eerily quiet. I set up camp inside and fell asleep to the sound of rainwater dripping in through the cracks. The mosque was perhaps the most unusual place I'd ever camped. There ended my adventure in Karabakh. The following day I went back to Stepanakert and caught a minibus to Yerevan.
Food Stuff
Drinking Near Karmir Shuka
Karabakh Countryside
BBQ Eating
War Cemetery
Inside Mosque
Day Trippin’

While I was staying the capital I had two days where I explored the areas outside the city. The first time was with a guy from Iran who I met at the hostel. Amir had won the green card lottery and was in Yerevan to get his visa to enter the United States. And since he was already in Armenia he wanted to do some sightseeing. We took a shared taxi to a winter resort town. It had a ski lift that took us up into the mountains. There was not much snow. Only odd patches that were hard and dirty. We explored the area on foot taking in the scenery. I’m sure it would have been amazing had it not been cloudy and rainy. But Amir was loving it. He’d never seen such mountains before and every three minutes he used his phone camera to snap a selfie. After about two hours we returned to the town below then rode a taxi to Lake Sevan. The largest in Armenia it had the look of a big blue sea. We climbed up a hill that had a church on top. The weather cleared a bit and the views of the water and mountains in the distance were remarkable. Again the Iranian took countless photos. He even had a selfie stick and wanted me to pose with him in a few. We soon sat and talked a while, the wind whipping at our clothes. He told me he was not happy with the political situation in his country and was determined to make a new life in America. He’d go to Seattle to find a job because he had friends in the city. His English was good and he had a background in architecture, so I assured him he would do fine. And if he was lucky, he’d meet a local girl and start a family. If you ask me, that’s half the American dream for an immigrant.

The other trip I made was the second time I’d returned to Yerevan. Vahagn put me in contact with a friend of his who was a guide. First we went to a salt lake that was right in the city behind an abandoned factory. The lake was not very big but it was clean and surprisingly pleasant considering its location. We swam a bit while trying not to get the water in our eyes. Two other tourists had joined us. A woman from Russia and an Armenian American guy. From the lake we drove outside Yerevan to meet some of the guide’s Russian friends. They had a summer home in Armenia and we drank tea and ate sunflower seeds while they chatted in Russian. I really couldn’t take part in the conversation so I sat back and zoned out until we left. We went back to the city for lunch where the Armenian American directed us to his brother’s house. There was a birthday party going on. I feasted on lamb meat and bbq pork. The Russian woman, Katia, ate only vegetables. She later told me she was a raw vegan and had been so for two years. At the party were several other people and each one of them a doctor. The brother too. He worked as a general surgeon. While the men introduced themselves, I shook the hands of two gynecologists. Such an odd line of work I thought, getting paid good money to look at vaginas all day.

We stayed for only about an hour. The guide reminded us of our remaining itinerary, and fully stuffed, I bid the group farewell. From Yerevan we headed west to a small village that had ruins of an ancient civilization some 5,000 years old. The ruins were merely the stone foundations of a fortress. And again, as in Baghaberd, the surrounding scenery stole the show. The fortress overlooked a gorge, and because we’d arrived at sunset, the landscape was afire with golden light. We shuffled back into the van and I joined the guide upfront. Katia and the Armenian American were in the rear seat. The guy was around 60 years old and had said he was married, but that didn’t stop him from making a move. Katia slowly gave into his advances until they were wrapped up in each other’s arms. It really wasn’t any of my business but I couldn’t help but pity the man’s wife. Her husband couldn’t stay faithful, not even in his old age. But enough about that. We continued to tour the area and saw an old castle and then a caravanserai. The caravanserai was the most complete building we'd stopped by that day, and I was reminded how Armenia had once been part of the silk routes between China and Europe. I imagined the history and wished for the hundredth time that I could somehow see the tapestry of time unfold as it had before. The truth be told, if I had a superpower, I'd choose that one. To see into the past, in a weird abstract way, kind of how Professor X sees stuff when he's inside his Cerebro machine.
Amir Snaps a Photo
Melting Snow
Mountain Flowers
Ski Lift
Lake View
Boat and Dock
Sevanavank Monastery
Golden Hour
Departing Thoughts

After my second stop in Yerevan I was pleased with what I’d seen in Armenia. A shared taxi took me back to Tbilisi to continue my adventures in Georgia. On the way I reflected upon my recent experiences. First and foremost, I'd felt that Armenians were good people with a deep sense of identity. Strange as it may seem, they even admired Kim Kardashian because she is of Armenian descent and had become famous in America, same as Cher and a few other Armenian Americans before her. There are in fact many Armenians in the US, in Los Angeles in particular. They constitute part of the Diaspora that had first spread across the globe following the genocide, and in total, these people now outnumber the population of Armenia itself.  In the taxi I was thinking I’d like to make Armenian friends after returning to America. At the same time I couldn’t remember having met an Armenian American while growing up in San Diego. But they are light skinned and European looking, and in California no one ever asks these types of white people what their descent is, whereas East Asians and Latinos get that question far too often.

Gangsta Girl

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