The Silky Way Adventure
Slices of Armenia
Chapter 3 – Armenian Coffee
Previous chapter : The family
“Did you hear the wolves last night?” Artyom asked when I woke up. The wolves! That was it then. It seemed indeed, at some point, that every single dog in the area had gone crazy… I had had no trouble identifying the mouse pattering around on the floor though. Her little hasty steps had echoed loudly in the quiet silence of the night.
We let the morning rituals be carried on without interfering. Ashtot was soon ready for school as were the two cousins, who were hanging out around here again. They cast us a last curious look and the three of them set off for school. As the little Aren, who didn’t need to go to school until he was six or seven, was helping his dad repair his taxi outside, we were free to chat with Manushak. It was pretty obvious that she was quite into languages. She had managed to pick up a few Spanish and English words from her favourite soap-operas, and she was quite keen to learn. Somewhere else, in another time dimension, she would have been undoubtedly a fully-fledged polyglot.
But we didn’t want to spend too much time there in the morning. We needed to keep going. Manushak asked for a picture with me, and I was very happy to let her have one. We took it with our camera, and scribbled down the address of the house, promising to send it once the trip would be over. In addition to the small jar of pear jam that she had already given me in the evening, she gave me another one, a big and heavy (but difficult to say no to!) jar half-full of jam, as well as a little bag of nuts. Some hugs, smiles and last waves to the little one, now grinning in his mum’s arms, and after shaking hands with Mher, we were finally outside the big light blue gate, in the muddy alley that served as a street.
“My idea for today” Artyom started, because he had an article to write and a better idea than me of things to see on our journey, “is to go –“”?
“Barev dzez!” a woman greeted us from the top of the steps leading to her house.
We answered in a chorus, probably with a little too much enthusiasm, and were instantaneously invited for coffee, exactly two houses and fifty meters after our first host’s place. What were we to do? “I guess we can go in, just for five minutes” Artyom said, opening the gate.
We entered Nelly’s house for just five minutes, which of course lasted no less than half an hour. Her house was bigger than the previous one, and in a much better state. Just renovated, it seemed. I asked Artyom if farms like this that had been renovated had some toilets inside. “Highly unlikely”, he told me. “In the best of cases, they will have water in the kitchen, maybe even a boiler for hot water.” Nelly brought us our cups of coffee.
An Armenian coffee is like a Turkish coffee (but don’t use either “Turkey” or “Turkish” if you want to stay friends with your hosts and the whole country*) in a pretty little cup, but also nuts, chocolates and biscuits, candies and, in this season, peeled apple quarters. And on top of all that, Nelly served us some apple juice. Often enough, we were also given some homemade jam, to be eaten with a spoon from a little cup.
Nelly told us that when she was younger, her father would invite in every single stranger that was passing by, and none ever escaped him. Now, she was doing she same, and we had not escaped her either. We were almost whispering just sipping our coffees, because her son, her daughter-in-law and their new-born baby were sleeping in the next room. We heard the latter crying as we left the room to finally get on the road. We warmly thanked Nelly and started walking in the mud again, discussing our strategy for the rest of the trip. Should we always say no to such invitations? Establish quota per day? None of it proved necessary, in the end. But in the next nine days, we got invited for no less than thirteen coffees and eight cups of tea…
Next chapter : The Priest
Bored of reading? A few pictures to illustrate the first three chapters, this way!
* the reason for that – and quite an understandable one, if you ask me – is the genocide that took place at the beginning of the XXth century in Western Armenia…