Saturday, February 12, 2011

January Highlights

  • We took 5 showers for the entire month. Just think of all the water we’re saving…
  • Hillary learned how to fold grape-leaf dolma for Joey’s 35th birthday dinner.
  • Discovered that Azeris love SwissMiss hot chocolate
  • If given the chance to cheat at Uno, some members of our family will take this opportunity
  • We ate the noisy rooster that sounded like it was saying ‘happy birthday’ or ‘happy new year’ when it crowed at all hours of the day.
  • A couch surfer from Spain randomly stayed at our house for 2 days due to our host brother’s connections. Her English was really good and we were able to mildly entertain her.
  • Started the process of learning how to make baklava (here it’s called paklava) by cracking a million walnuts. I still have the blood blister to prove it. FYI – you might want to go out, buy some, and thank whoever made it!
  • Had 10 folks from our neighboring town Xachmaz come to Quba for an afternoon visit. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the snow was melting but there was still enough for several snowball fights around our town.
  • Our first trip back to Baku resulted in great food (Indian, pseudo-Mexican, and Joey nearly went crazy for the opportunity to eat pork ribs!), hanging out with great people for the weekend, and getting affirmed by our first host family that our Azeri actually has improved!
  • One weekend, a family relative came by and took the boys out on a trip to see the Quba mountainside. Joey was able to see beautiful streams, mountains and a very happy horse.
  • I received a pink stuffed bunny from my host brother for our New Year celebration. Apparently it the year of the rabbit. This is also a gift that should be in photos for special occasions, like Joey’s birthday.
  • Joey got locked inside the toilet and I laughed a lot. Apparently the lock expanded on a warm day and our host dad had to pry him out. No more locking the door, so say goodbye to privacy! This later happened to our younger host brother, and Joey got to help rescue him. (What’s funnier – an American yelling for help in bad Azeri, or an Azeri yelling for help in bad English?)

Overall, January was a good month. We’re at the halfway point of living with our host family, which continues to help us with our cultural integration, for better or worse. For me, I was still waiting on a few things (like heat) for the activity room in my office, in order to get into the swing of my actual job of working with youth. At this point, never-ending patience has been my biggest accomplishment. Joey has been teaching up a storm and riling kids up throughout his school. As we walked around town last weekend, kids would shout “Hello, Mr. JOEY!” Looks like we’re starting to get noticed, for better or worse.


  1. Keep Up the blog post, I love reading your adventures in Quba!

    What is a dolma? Is it any thing like a stuff grape leaf?

    Baklava is my favorite dessert, and my mom has made it for my birthday dessert for years. Something tells me though that she bought the walnuts shelled. I hope your hands are feeling better.

    Sending warm thoughts,


  2. It sounds like you are having quite an adventure! I've been thinking about you a lot lately. Glad to hear you are doing pretty well and keeping your positive outlook. I miss it! Stay warm!


  3. Sounds wonderful and wonderfully hard. And familiar! Love you guys! In other news it is about 85 in Nairobi, if you need a break of icy Azerbaijan!