Day 3: We all woke up once more at Hotel Ani to the same delicious American style buffet for breakfast. This time, however, it was more of an eat-and-go, as we had to be at the lobby promptly at 10:00 a.m. with our luggage packed to get on the road to Vanadzor.
Before arriving at Vanadzor, however, we had two enriching and enjoyable experiences. First off after leaving Ani, we attended a local church (Evangelical Church of Armenia on Bahgramyan St.) service, which once used to be the US Embassy building. Here we sang songs and listened to the various Armenian sermons given and mingled with the Armenian churchgoers. After church, we experienced a real Armenian treat: lahmajoun! We all sat down at a local lahmajoun restaurant and indulged in the rich and zesty flavor of lahmajoun baked fresh in the homeland. It was an enjoyable and filling meal for all, followed by a bit of ice cream if one desired. After our lunch we visited a shelter for orphaned girls aging from 14-18 who have no parents or were left on the streets. Here we toured the facility and learned about the programs that they have to help these girls find a career and support themselves. We met the girls who lived there, learned a bit about them and what they want to do with their lives, and sang songs (both in English and Armenian) with them. It was very fun and interactive for both the group and the girls and left us all with smiles on our faces. The smiles were short-lived however, because now it was off on the road to Vanadzor, a three hour drive through the Armenian countryside in a bus. The scenery was spectacular. We witnessed the transformation of the environment around us as we moved from the urban city, to the country side, to wide open fields, and then into the Lori Valley. Here we witnessed the massive fault lines and geographical formations caused by the massive earthquake that struck the area and the nearby villages. It was a wonderful view of the Armenian countryside and after a beautiful drive, we arrived at Vanadzor. Here we immediately unpacked our bags at the hotel and rushed to the local church to get the clinic all set up for tomorrow. Everyone worked to learn the lay of the land, the flow of the clinic, and set up their stations for work tomorrow. Strong group cooperation and hard work made the task relatively swift, and afterwards we enjoyed a delicious traditional Armenian meal cooked for us by the church staff. When the setup was all done, we returned to our hotel to relax and prepare for the first day of clinic work that rapidly approaches us tomorrow!