When I say, "as often as means would allow," that was frightfully true. When we arrived in Armenia, the exchange rate was 40 rubles to the dollar. By the time we left, it had fallen to 800 rubles to the dollar.
Once a month, we would treat our friends to a day at the park. There would be food, a small orchestra, amusement park rides, games, and lots of dancing. Between the 10 Americans no there serving, it cost us each about $20. USD to put on this monthly festival. All had fun and it helped to grow our pool of friends.
Once, when we arrived at the park for our party, we noticed a centerpiece. It was an American flag stuck in a vodka bottle, proudly waving in the breeze!
We once had to go to the American Embassy and noticed a huge American flag proudly waving outside. We were told emphatically that, still fearing another genocide or Turkish invasion, this flag helped them to feel safer.
As soon as the Consulate opened, we went to introduce ourselves to let them know there were Americans there. A few nights later, we went to the opera and during a break, they stopped to introduce the new Ambassador. He stood and waved . . . in blue jeans. Which might be alright for America, but definitely made him stand out in a crowd of Armenians who array themselves in their finest when they go out.
During the intermission, he was in the lobby and everyone was crowding him and asking for autographs. As we met and shook his hand, several Armenians asked my husband for his autograph. Somewhere in Armenia, there are people scratching their heads and asking themselves, "Who in the world is Joseph Rickman and why do have his autograph?"