Musings on the daily events in politics and sports as well as some local bar stops along the way in LA.

Monday, August 29, 2005

My journey to Armenia and Moscow day by day (entry no.2)

August 13
I wake up around 2pm with nobody in my room cursing my brother for making it to the daily trip without waking me up. I slowly get out of bed and head downstairs for lunch at the Ani hotel restaurant. When I get downstairs I see Adela and Tamar who apparently realized that I wasn’t in my room at 630 in the morning last they checked when they took my brother home. They say there is no way he made it to the trip in the condition he was in. We head downstairs after breakfast and run into him and im relived now that I’m not the only one who missed Dzidzernagapert and we can just go another day. We head over to Shoushigs apt because apparently she’s living there for the summer. Her apt was the first glimpse I had into an Armenian apt and it was phat. I don’t know about the living conditions outside of Yerevan yet but inside they are just fine. I could totally live in a place like this. Rest of the day was spent walking around and getting to know the city, hit up Vernisage and a few other places, went to a café at night and took it easy after the ridiculous past few nights.

August 14
Wake up in the morning to go to Echmiadzin (the first church built in Armenia in 301 a.d., possibly the world but im not sure), its ridiculously hot outside so I decide to wear shorts. I go downstairs to see most people dressed much nicer than they were every other day and it hits me that it’s a Sunday and were going to church, so I decide to go upstairs and change into pants even though it’s a billion degrees outside. We head over to the sacred church and theres thousands of people there. What struck me right away was the size of the entire compound. It isn’t merely a church in a random city but it’s a seminary and a religious compound. There a bunch of priests and people studying theology walking all over the place. It puts your entire religion in perspective when you see all these people giving their lives to god. Usually I only see one priest or Srpazan at a time, here you see where they all study and train, it made me look at my religion a bit differently (still didn’t make me religious or anything just made me look at it differently). I walk inside the church and see what looks like a cult meeting since there are about 30 Srpazans praying and holding some sort of ceremony in their black robes and pointed hats. It was ridiculously packed in there and put together with the heat and the fact that they don’t shower or wear deodorant in Armenia, it was time to exit the premises. I wandered around the compound for a while and ran into a carnival of all things. Its funny to see the old Soviet carnival rides, theyre quite primitive and all made with a bunch of steel but the kids seemed quite happy riding the rides. It’s a good thing they cant afford to come to the US and go to magic mountain or something cause then they might get spoiled like us westerners and not be able to enjoy their communist era fun.
Next we were off to one of my most anticipated sites, Sardarabad. It was the site where the Armenians held off the Turkish bastard army and set some sort of groundwork for the borders of an independent Armenia back in 1918. There is a huge monument built that can be seen from miles away. The structure is built at the end of the road so as youre driving to it you can see it approaching dead center. You have to walk up the final couple hundred meters to get to the monument and you see it looming larger with each step. When we get to the monument our tour guide, Tatevos, starts explaining the story and battle of Sardarabad to the group. Everone is on edge listening to the tales of victory and when he talks about the actual monument and the victory bells that randomly go off, the bells at that moment started ringing and people jumped out of their seats and I got chills across my spine. What a moment. We then went into the Sardarabad museum which contained random stuff and we headed back to Yerevan.
On our way back to Yerevan we stopped at the ruins of Zvartnots, while they were random ruins what I noticed over there was the snack shop lady. It was about a million degrees every day and everywhere we went we bought bottles of water, we bought so many we kept selling the places out. There was nowhere else to buy water for miles yet they were still selling it at retail prices, well not at Zvartnots. Finally there was a capitalist in Armenia, she sold us water at double the cost and half the size and still sold out… that’s more like it.
We head back to Yerevan knowing that were leaving for Artsakh at 6am so what do we do? We go out drinking. After hearing our tall tales of gaseous alcohol consumption, some people in the group want to see what its all about so we head over to Hratch and Raffis bar and tell them we have more people for their drinks. As were walking up to the bar not only do they recognize Sevag and I, but the customers were the same and they recognized us too! We must have made more of an impact than we thought. So now theres about 6 of us drinking these gaseous drinks, and they start making more drinks that they set on fire. Around 3am we start heading back to the hotel while random people are staying out. I was at the hotel about 20 min when I decided that this is no way to be partying in Yerevan so I head back to the streets. As im leaving the hotel I randomly run into Ara and Sebouh who have been stuck in London because of the British airways sympathy strike. They look defeated and tell me to take them drinking since by now I must know somewhere good. So I take them to the gas bar and they start consuming gaseous drinks left and right .They are trashed in no time, next thing we know the other customers are starting to drink the gas drinks and it’s a big ol’ party. Local girls were dancing on the bar stools, aras telling stories about how much British airways sucks and how hes not gonna go to Artsakh cause he still doesn’t have his luggage and he got to Yerevan an hour ago. I part ways with them at 545 telling the bartenders I have to go to Artsakh, they tell me to visit them when I get back. I head back to the hotel as my brother is just getting in and getting ready to pack but I tell them Ara and Sebouh finally made it so we go back to the bar and take some shots with the faction, as we get to the bar ara is still telling stories and Sebouh is making out with some random local girl with braids who could or could not have been a prostitute. We once again part ways and its 6am, time to head over on a 15 hour van ride to ghapan then Artsakh. Windy dirt roads going off no sleep.
This is when the trip really begins.

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