Tuesday, January 15, 2013

the Book of Nature

Sometime in the middle of October...

Rocked up at the last second to the mini-van leaving for Lake Sevan, just as the weather turned total shit. Found out just then the lake is 2,000 meters above sea level, it would be really cold and not many places to stay were open anymore. Perfect. That informative Peace Corp volunteer then hooked us up with a taxi driver she knew who spoke no English and over charged us by taking the hotel room money directly, certainly pocketing some of it for himself. Even better. There is not much that cold beer, insightful conversation with a great friend and some good ol' fashioned crayfish doesn't cure! 

Party of 1


Nice bedtime stories of rapists and killers while bundled in our sleeping bags....zzzzzz! 
Beautiful morning on Lake Sevan.

The President's vacation house

Now that's what's up with it! 

9th century monastery of Sevanavank

These orange berries are either poison or the most popular road side fruit in Armenia.

Made our way with our personal little conniving taxi driver friend (don't hate the playa, hate the game) to Dilijan National Park. Amazing autumnal action. Headed to Nina B&B, a homely little guest house run by the super welcoming Nina, who makes massive meals for you all day long. 

One more side of giardia, coming right up! 


Hiking with Llew and Sarah, a couple we'd met in Yerevan and ran into again here.

All these cow pictures are unherd of.

Left Dilijan stuffed thanks to Nina, and our heathen mindsets and lifestyles may have changed the lives of some very religious Israeli girls we shared our cabin with, who knows. One can only hope. 
Headed off to the Debed Canyon, stood by the side of the road about 10 minutes before a Camry pulled over and told us to get in. The older man who was getting chauffeured moved to the front, stopped to buy us soda and ice cream and took us directly to our next guest house. Thanks, old man! Hitch hiking in Armenia was proving to be no problem whatsoever. 

Ran into Llew and Sarah again at Iris Guesthouse and made our way to the Sanahin Monastery. While waiting for the cable car up the mountain we saw a wedding party pull up to a church with what we thought was a dead dog tied to the hood of the car. As soon as they were all inside the church we bolted over to the car, only to find it was a fox skin. Lame! I wanted to see some crazy Armenian shit going down first hand.

Old mining town. The area is kind of poor and run down, the monastery was more like ruins than anything. But it was peaceful and really quiet up the mountain

Trash eatin' cows

Family tomb stone 

Back at Iris' Guesthouse, the owner, Irina, also had a mission to get us full and drunk. Lots of veggies and vodka. Next day we headed to Haghpat Monastery in a taxi with Llew and Sarah, again a really placid place in the sleepy countryside.

Reverend Richard, savin' souls! 

Representin' for the Cardinals and Mashtots himself

Next we made a move over to Akhtala Monastery, which had a really isolated and stunning location, making the 10th church seem all the more ancient. 

Beautiful frescoes 

From there we parted with Llew and Sarah, promptly got picked up by some guys in a BMW and driven to the road which leads to the border of Georgia. Were immediately picked up again by a guy who spoke no English and took us all the way to the end of Armenia, further then where he was probably going, as he turned around and went back after he dropped us. The Armenian people we met were very hospitable to us. There were plenty of signs that women there generally don't have much say in their lives, but traveling there was a really interesting experience that I feel fortunate to have had! 

Where else would you see these kinds of cognacs and candies? 

We'll keep trying to find out.

"To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live." 
-Hans Christian Anderson


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