Paper Mountains: An Armenian Diary
London: Gomidas Institute, 2016,
164 pages, maps,
ISBN 978-1-909382-29-9, paperback,
Price: UK£16.00 / US$22.00
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When Jonathan Maiullo landed in Armenia, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. He couldn’t read the alphabet, he didn’t speak the language and he was none too conﬁdent in his ability to teach English as he’d been sent there to do. As Jonathan (or Jon jan) bumbles through lessons about hospitality, tan (carbonated buttermilk) and oghi (homemade fruit brandy) he comes to understand why his benevolent hosts are so ﬁercely proud of their country.
This diary offers the unique opportunity to experience a beautiful and culturally impressive country for the ﬁrst time. Jonathan’s long walks carry the reader across mountainous Armenia from alpine Lake Sevan down into the biblical Ararat Plain, from a peaceful religious festival into the turbulent Nagorno-Karabagh conﬂict. Each new insight, each revalation in acculuration is celebrated with the reader in this direct account of life in an unfamiliar place that eventually became home.
Jonathan Maiullo first went to Armenia in 2008. He spent the next two years rambling over the country on foot whenever he wasn’t teaching his English classes in Yeghegnadzor. He has since lived and worked as an English teacher in several countries, but has never quite been able to shake the memories of the the edenic world he found somewhere between Goris and Gyumri, which as invariably led him to visit many Armenian enclaves worldwide, if only to renew his familiarity with the musical language and search for the illusive boboki muraba (sweet green walnut preserves).