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Monday, 27 January 2014

The Good in the People



Yup. I miss Armenia. Deep in my heart, I know that I am a very passionate and romantic being and I often feel the urge to be close to the people and places I love.
And now we’re changing track, because this is not one of those melancholic love letters to a land I cherish.

Ingredients:
-          2 intrepid travellers on their way from Yerevan to Goris, determined to reach Tatev Monastery by riding the world’s longest cable car route
-          1 shared taxi from Yerevan to Goris
-          A jaw-dropping scenery
-          1 taxi from Goris to the ‘Wings of Tatev’
-          1 return cable car ride from/to Tatev Monastery
-          No marshrutka from Goris to Yeghegnadzor

Steps:
The story goes like this:
1. It was our second day in Armenia, we were – of course! – on a tight schedule and wanted to reach the southern part of the country, close to the Iranian border, namely the town of Goris, to be used as a hub for reaching one of Armenia’s greatest attractions: Tatev Monastery (9th century), perched high in Zanzegur Mountains, at the end of the world’s longest cable car route, 5.7 km.
On the longest cable car ride in the world
2. We ended up taking a shared taxi to Goris and you can read about our mesmerising adventure on the Silk Road here. You will not know, however, how it all ended.
3. The fact is that we reached Goris, were lucky enough to find a taxi to take us to the ‘Wings of Tatev’ and luck was again by our side because the winds were not high enough to prevent us from going up. And up we went. Joining us was a larger group. I could identify English, German, and... français québécois spoken. During the 11-minute ride and our sparse interactions, I spoke in English and French to some of them and apparently they became very curious about our nationalities, because I was still speaking to Marcel in a language that was unfamiliar to them and – I bet! – quite exotic. On top of everything, he had our large backpacks and seemed to know our way in a country in which travelling on your own may prove a great challenge.
Tatev Monastery's courtyard
‘Where are you from?’ the Armenian guide asked us when we bumped again into them in Tatev Monastery’s courtyard.
‘Romania’ we proudly answered.
‘Armenia?!’ repeated the tall Nordic-looking gentleman.
‘No, Romania’ I replied.
We explained that we were touring around Georgia and Armenia. We got close to them, in a way. By smiling and by being kind and grounded. One of the ladies continued to be especially friendly whenever we’d meet during the next thirty minutes or so.
4. The setting, the colours, and the vibe of Tatev were exactly as I perceived them and imaged them from photos: amazing. There were white doves completing the picture and a springlike feel in the air. Sadly, it was time to go (there were only 2 more cable cars going down that evening, which was silently creeping in).
Zhingyal & gata
5. We couldn’t help but stay for dinner at ‘Wings of Tatev’. And I’m glad we did, because Armenian cuisine is fantastic! I savoured every single bite of my omelette, of my zhingyal (which has remained to this day one of my favourite plates ever), and of my gata cake. I know, we were a bit too laid-back... mainly because we knew that it was Saturday... that we were supposed to be 200 km north that evening, in the hotel room we’d booked... and deep inside I had to admit it to myself that we’d lost the last marshrutka leaving from Goris. I hadn’t though the courage to inform Marcel on that. In my defence, I hadn’t eaten almost a thing since that morning’s breakfast in Yerevan. At one point though, I said:
‘You know, my love, we have a problem.’
Actually 4: getting back to Goris, finding a way to get to Yeghegnadzor, the darkness, and the rain.
We almost started to panic taking a look at the parking lot and seeing that almost all the cars had vanished. We could have called for a taxi (our waitress told us), but what then? Yeghegnadzor was still almost impossible to get to.
6. And then, when all hope seemed to be fading (although I must tell you that hope never fades completely in my heart), it dawned on me that the guys from the cable car were there with us, having their dinners.
‘All or nothing. I have nothing to lose.’ I told myself, as I approached the friendly lady in the restaurant’s bathroom.
‘Look, I have a problem. And you may be able to help me out. We may have lost the last bus to Yeghegnadzor, north, on the way to Yerevan, and we should be there tonight. Do you have 2 seats on your bus to take us along? We will pay you.’
‘You know, we’re on an organised tour, but yes, we have some empty seats. Let me just talk to the guide.’
The next minute, Marcel and I were outside, standing near the bus and praying for a miracle. The guide had told us that the trip was prepaid, so they wouldn’t accept money, although we insisted, but they all needed to agree to taking us along.
7. They talked for a bit and the smile on the Norwegian gentleman’s face (yes, the tall Nordic-looking gentleman was Norwegian), together with his thumbs-up, reassured me that we were again in luck. Big time.
The ride was a very pleasant one, with the rain and wind hurling outside. We found out that the members of the group were all museographers from all over the world, reuniting for an annual conference in Yerevan. I will be forever grateful to them and to the kindness they’d shown us.
We finally reached the spot with the sign to Yeghegnadzor pointing right (and with probably 1 or 2 km to walk into town). The rain had stopped, yet the Norwegian gentleman was still very surprised (and shocked!) to see us get off the bus, again, in the middle of nowhere.           

Tips:                 
Be careful with time planning all over the world, every time you travel, and make sure you check out this excellent Armenian public transport website. There are times when things are not going to happen as planned and you will have to rely on the help of the people around you. Do that and remember that there is indeed a high amount of good in the people and in their hearts. 

2 comments:

  1. Very well written! Although (I admit) I don't have the patience to read every bit of it, I enjoyed whatever I did read. Creative and interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. :) Thank you, Renuka! Much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete