Welcome to Armenia.

Just last week I had the privilege of going to a tiny, remote village in Belize called Armenia.   To avoid confusion for the geographically inclined, Armenia is named after a place in El Salvador.  It was settled by El Salvadorians.  The place in El Salvador was long ago settled by Armenians.  All confusion is now averted.

All you need is good friends, good food
and good memories
The discussion began when I met Carlos' roommate for the first time.  The conversation quickly turned to food and I began complaining about how I'd like to experience a real Belizian home-cooked meal.  Duck (the roommate) immediately offered up his mother's services and invited us to his village.  No sooner had the words left my mouth and we were already planning our trip.

Last Sunday at noon, Carlos, MerryAnn, Ryan, Meredith and I jumped on the express to Belmopan and started the interesting journey to Armenia.  Remember when I said the bus was an experience worth experiencing once; well it's also a huge pain when trying to travel long distances.  It was hot and crowded.  I somehow managed to get a seat beside a heavy set woman displaying a rather large box on her lap.  As the woman snored without a worry in the world, I couldn't help but notice that there was a tiny eye staring back at me from the holes cut into the box.  I was now fully aware that there was something in the box.  I HAD TO KNOW WHAT IT WAS.  I started leaning back and cranking my neck at weird angles hoping to catch a glimpse into the box, when suddenly, we hit a huge bump and the woman awoke from her slumber.   I could see she was getting sleepy and about to plunge back into building castles in the air.  I quickly said: "I'm so sorry, but I NEED to know what's in the box".  To my pleasant surprise, she said "PUPPIES".   The rest of the trip to the Belmopan bus station was the best bus ride ever.  It was filled with a solid hour of puppy play for me.
****Keep in mind that Carlos was laughing at me the whole time for being ridiculous about trying to peak into the box...half the bus noticed what I was doing...

The bus ride from Belmopan to Armenia was short and felt like only moments.  One second we were on the bus, the next, Duck was walking us up a muddy path to his lovely, rustic home.  Although it wasn't very big, and by all means, not up to North America standards...it was a place that poured out love.  It was a family home.  Modest yes, but so much was going on.  The TV was playing, the youngest sister was running around the kitchen, the other sister was sitting in on the couch of their 3 bedroom wooden home sketching a picture of bird.  The other sister ran around the home doing household chores, Duck's mother hustled around the attached kitchen speaking in spanish.  Carlos and Duck were lost in a conversation of their own.  Two dogs roamed in and out of the house.  A cat purred and curled itself beneath my legs.  This was Belize.  The essence of Belize.  There was no noise.  Not a trace of city sound.  Everywhere was a luscious green and the smell of freshness intoxicated my senses.  The sky was grey and the wind was misty on my skin.  I was so enthralled by my surroundings that I barely heard Carlos ask me if I wanted a beer.

We made our way down to the only bar in Armenia.  I wasn't surprised when we were the only ones there with the inclusion of a few drunk old men.  We ordered a round and the drinking began.   Only moments passed when one of Duck's sisters had come to summon us to dinner.

A real Belizian meal...
Fried rice.  Beans.  Fried plantain.  Stewed beef.  Hands down the best meal I've had in Belize to date.  It was an outstanding meal.  It was perfect.  I can't begin to describe how it felt to feel Belizian.  This is what culture is.  This is what learning about a culture should be.  It's about becoming immersed in it.  It's about experiencing culture for what it really is:  life as they know it.

The top of the mountain
After the meal, the drinking commenced.  There was quick reunion among friends that I guess Carlos hadn't seen for quite some time.  The next thing I knew, we were climbing the side of a "mountain".  There I was in flip flops, hiking up a trail through bushes and getting tangled in trees.  It was a short climb to the top and the view which unfolded before me was spine-tingling.  Only a picture could express what I wish I could say.  A portrait of hills coloured the backdrop.  Green hills rolled into the distance without end.  The grey sky, which would normally be seemingly dull, only made the view look picture perfect.  We laughed and took a million pictures of whatever we deemed appropriate.  When the sun began to set and darkness was invading our space, we hiked down the "mountain" and continued drinking.   But that's neither here or there and not something I need to talk about.  Our night escalated with rounds and rounds of beer and a couple bottles of rum.

****SIDE NOTE****Ryan ate a termite.   He said it tasted like mint.

A beautiful view in Armenia 
By 5 am, we were all wide awake with hangovers and breakfast being served to us.  She out did herself again.  Eggs.  Bread.  Beans.  Cornbread.  Papaya.  Every bite was savoured and every bite more delicious than the last.  We hitchhiked from Armenia all the way to Belmopan.  100 km/hr in the back of a pick up truck.  We stopped at a gas station, bought coffee and reminisced about the night before.  We jumped on the first bus at the station and road all the way home.  By 10 am, I was safe and sound in my own bed, finally getting the rest I needed.

At least we made it home in one piece...
All in all, the weekend was a complete success.  I was completely content.  I look forward to many more experiences like the one I had in remote Armenia.

My suggestion:  make friends.  Locals will love you and take you in as their own.  <3  Belize is an amazing place.

Peace and Love,