Friday, 15 November

An Armenian in Adjara: Armenian Eyes Don't Lie

Larisa herds the cows in the direction of the green pasture. The woman makes a beehive towards her neighbor's house.

She's heard that some Armenians have arrived and Larisa is interested in seeing them. After all she's Armenian as well – at least on her father's side.

Larisa only remembers a few Armenian words from when she grew up in Akhalkalak; 'how are you', 'what would you lie', etc.

When her father passed away, Larisa and her mother, a Georgian, moved to Kobuleti, a town on the Black Sea coast of Adjara.

She married a local and has remained in Kobuleti ever since.

Larisa told me that making a living is hard here since jobs are scarce. She says that every other person is engaged in the buying and selling of something or other and that many residents travel to Turkey for work.

In fact, Larisa's eldest son has only left for Turkey to seek employment. Her other son plies the beaches in a canoe-type boat selling this and that.

Summer is the time to make as much money as one can. Come the winter, things shut down.

Larisa tends to her cows and owns a bit of land on which she grows potatoes.

She and her family live on the upper floor of her brother-in-law's house. Hopefully, they will have a roof of their own in two years.

During our conversation, Larisa noted that tourists from Armenia seemed to be well off financially, even though they complained about not having a sea to swim in.

"OK, they have no ocean but they sure have money in their pockets," Larisa joked.

The family lives only 100 meters or so from the ocean. A highway is the only thing separating their house from the water.

But Larisa never goes swimming – it's just not acceptable for local women.

"What would the neighbours say," notes Larisa.

Sitting at the table, Larisa turns to me and gazes at my eyes.

She then turns to her Georgian neighbour and tells her, "See? Our eyes look the same. They're Armenian eyes."

The sun has set behind the sea's horizon.

Larisa's cows begin to grumble and groan.

She gets up to herd them into the shed.

"I'll be back tomorrow," Larisa says as she skirts around the fence.

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