A success story: I didn’t get sold for sex AND I got my hat.

Ignore the fact that I'm cross-eyed and take horrible pics of myself.

Yes, the title is going to be what this blog is really about but first, let’s talk about how BEAT I am from being away for 13 days.  Whew, I’m spent. 

Whenever I go away on a work trip, I feel like I get sucked into the twilight zone and then spit back into reality upon my return.  It’s not even so much the conference that I work.  It’s the lack of sleep, the endless running around, the balance between 12 hours of work and wanting to then socialize for 5 more, my tendency to get sick in all cities “Eastern” due to the endless smoke and *fresh air, the effort it takes to keep my liver from trying to escape my body, and oh yes, the exhausting flights and treks through the airport.   

Today is no different.  I have three flights in four different airports and fifteen hours of travel to get me home.  That is *fun.  Just how I like to spend a Sunday.  That and the travel agent that works for my company is an absolute sped. (I will NOT take that back.  She is short bus like you wouldn’t believe and I’m sorry if that’s offensive but she is and I despise her.)  I mean, really.  Kiev?  You couldn’t have just sent me through Paris or straight to Vienna?  It’s like she’s never heard of Orbitz. 

But anyway, I get to sit in the lounge and play online and blog so it’s not all bad, minus the part about just wanting to be in my own house in clean clothes, showered and eating thai with my husband, which is exactly what I’ll be doing 8 hours from now.  Until then, we can recap my last 36 hours in Yerevan.  It was a pretty eventful last day and I was thankful to have had a little downtime between the conference and home.  I should note that it was only eventful because I don’t listen or do what I’m told because (as a reminder) 1. No one is the boss of me.  2.  It’s not China.  You can’t make me. 3. I have a theory about life that I will share at the end of this story.

So.  How and why I did not get sold for sex this weekend. 

I always arrive a few days before the conference to set up and prep for the arrival of a few hundred people from about 40 countries.  It’s not that stressful and doesn’t require weeks of coordination, but getting there early gives me enough time and resources to do it right and well and not be all crazy about it.  It also gives me a half day or so to get out of the hotel before I never see the light of day so that I can see something local, historical, cultural or anything that does not resemble the inside of a meeting room or hotel hallway.  Considering I had already been to Yerevan the year before, I didn’t really want to go see what I had already seen and so I had my heart set on seeing the monastery I keep blabbing on and on about.  The first weekend, however, I did not get to see it.  Therefore, there was little hope it would be seen.  Typically everyone has to do everything in a group because of security and fairness and blabbity blah and it just didn’t work out and so I was pretty disappointed but then my friends started arriving and I forgot about it.

Until the conference ended.  That is when I had time to go and was offered a ride and tour from someone who knows the site well and I was thrilled to have the opportunity.  Well, I was thrilled until everyone started to bring me down with their crazy paranoia talk.  Everyone I asked to go with me was either leaving to go home on departure day or had a case of the paranoia.  They were all, good luck getting kidnapped and sold for sex, this, and have fun with your life as a drug mule, that.  Apparently if you want to go anywhere that involves being near another border, forget it.  People losetheirshit. 

Now I get it.  I sat in the  brief I was given in my office.  And while I think being briefed when going to another country is a good idea if you can’t read, I think people take things a little too far.  And to be honest, I think it’s mostly a bunch of fear breeding bullshit.  I think Americans (which I can stereotype because I am one) are more paranoid, more isolated, more spoon fed and more instilled with fear than probably anyone else in the world.  And sure.  I know what terrorism is and I know bad people exist and maybe it’s kind of new that we have to deal with it all in the past decade at home but abroad?  This stuff has been going on for LIFE, as in that is often a way of life for a million people and if you’re afraid of every single thing that’s unknown to you, have fun.  You’ll be sitting in your hotel room, watching Fox News or CNN or whatever else that plays around the clock horror stories and you will just never, ever live.  Which may not make sense BUT.Ugh. 

So.  No, I didn’t listen to all the crazy talk.  I went to the monastery and I am grateful I had the opportunity. 

That's what 301 AD looks like.

I got to see a religious and historical monument from the year 301 AD that still stands and is still used today.  I was told the story of how the Armenians adopted Christianity, how they were the first to do so and how Gregory saved the King, which is how it all began in the first place.  I lit three prayer candles in the darkness of the prayer room and left them to melt in the cement troughs filled with water and the reflections of the Armenians that silently prayed.  I saw a baby being baptized and outside the stone walls, I saw a procession and the people of Yerevan bury one of their own in a local cemetery that was muted and muddy and cold in the rain. 

I didn’t see  the view of Mt. Ararat, having gone for my field trip on the cloudiest and rainiest day of the week but I saw more than I bargained for.  I saw a glimpse into a world of people I never knew existed until I took this job.  I saw more of their pride and some of their pain and witnessed it in a place that is special and sacred and home to them.  And for that alone, the 13 day trip was well worth it.

So, the moral of the story is:  No one in Armenia wanted to kidnap me and sell me for sex.  They are my friends, they are good people and let’s be honest.  No one is going to make a dime off me for foreign sexy time favors.  We all know that the minute they heard me open my mouth and start screaming and acting all belligerent with them, my ass would be tossed right back over whatever border was closest and I’d be left to walk back myself.   

Now, I’m about to head home.  Happy, happy Sunday.