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

Thursday, September 08, 2005

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

August 16 (cont.)
So we finally get back to hotel Shoushi and the blue bus is wasted. We go down and hang out in the central square right next to the church. Some of the people from the other bus decide to get the bbq going and were all having a nice party. We go inside to eat the khorovadz in the dining area and we see the LCO people are there. We eat and hang out with them for a while as of course we continue drinking. After dinner everyone is just hanging out until someone starts playing the piano in the lobby. Then Nayri starts singing some slow Armenian song while someone else is playing the piano, and Nayri has one of those voices that could make you cry when singing the right song, and it this song seems damn close to the right song. Then Tatevos and Vahe get on the piano and start playing a crazy duet. While I don’t play the piano I thought it was crazy how good they were playing together even though they had never played with each other before. We listen to them for a while then the party goes outside to the streets of Shoushi. The buses are parked right outside the hotel and we start blasting Armenian music out of one of the buses and people start dancing in the streets. This is what its all about this is what happens when you win the war, your people get to dance in the streets of Shoushi. Then they play the blue bus favorite new song Augustine. Sevag starts dancing a solo to this song, almost tripping with every step (theres video of this somewhere), little does he know that this is a song about the singer pouring his heart out to his gay lover, actually he did know). Then we go back to the Armo music and theres a shoorchbar going. I cant even explain what a great feeling it is to be dancing in the streets of Shoushi at around 4 in the morning. The crowd starts to dwindle and a couple of Karapaghtsi soldiers show up. They start drinking with us and want to sing heghapoghagan songs with us. This is great, this is exactly what weve been waiting for, to actually sing with the soldiers who the songs are about. So they tell us to start a song and they’ll follow. Uh oh that’s the same problem Sevag and I have, we cant lead any songs but we can follow them all, they say the same thing. How ridiculous was that, these two guys were exactly like us living the sausage life, except they were fighting in a war 10 years ago while I was trying to make out with the pimple faced girl in third period history. Sevag goes up to get the song book and we start singing Sardarabad with the boys (why we didn’t sing a kharapakh song I’m not sure). They soon leave and the night is winding down, Sevag notices that the flagpoles have been empty all day and starts to get mad about it so he decides to climb the flagpole for no apparent reason (theres a pic of this on his site). The rest of us decide that’s our cue to head back inside to sleep and he goes off to wander. Apparently he went lying down in some ditch somewhere he claims hanging out under the stars and got locked out of the hotel until some caretaker of the hotel had to let him in.

August 17
The next morning it is decided that were not going to go to the border villages that the Yerkir organization has been rebuilding. I’m very disappointed with this because the Yerkir villages are one of the main things I wanted to see in all of Armenia. Yerkir is an organization that builds homes and gives $1000 in cattle and other stuff to Armenians to repopulate the borders. (they do the best work of anyone in Armenia from what I could tell and if I had money I would definitely donate to them first). Apparently after the Ashan drive through the dirt roads nobody wanted to make another crazy drive to the border. So our new choices are going hiking by some river or to Gandzasar and the Nigol Tuman museum. I have no idea what gandzasar is but I know nigol tuman and I’d like to see his museum, I also have no interest in hiking so I decide to take option 1, apparently nobody wanted to hike because only 3 people chose option 2 so the hike was cancelled. They say Gandzasar is about 45 min away which in Armenia talk means its about 2 hours away. On the way there people say that they wanted to go to gandzasar because they heard you haven’t been to karapakh until you’ve been to gandzasar. So we drive about an hour on decent roads and an hour on dirt roads to get to the bottom of some huge mountain. Jesus this looks like a huge climb. So we start hiking up the mountain and it’s a ridiculous hike, I start bitching for the first time on this trip that if I wanted to go on a hike I would have taken that option. About 20 min later I get to the top of the mountain dead tired and only wanting water. But of course the capitalists have a long way to go in Armenia so they don’t sell water here. (on a side note I have a piece of advice for the AYF over there, just get a 10 year old badanee girl with some lemonade, do you have any idea how much I would have paid for something like that at that moment?!) So I get to the top of this mountain and see the church, I go inside the church and get a glass of tap water that Nara somehow got for us. I go outside and look at the insane view looking down the mountain. I see the walls surrounding the area and I collapse on it (theres a cool pic of that). After all that I went through physically and emotionally the past day/week my body decided that the gandzasar wall is the perfect place for this to happen. Apparently Sevag and Stepans bodies thought the exact same thing since they were passed out on either side of me. Then I hear the group all getting together with the priest of the church who is telling them the history of gandzasar. I decide ive seen enough churches that I really don’t care about the story of this church all I know is that its really cool. Then I see Stanford boy Sipan randomly there and I go talk to him. Apparently he got Stanford to pay for him to research in Armenia and Karabakh for the summer. He then yells at me for not listening to the story of the church and he proceeds to tell me. Apparently it’s the church of St. John the Baptist, and theres a shadow of St. Mary or something in the walls that just appeared on day out of nowhere so they consider it blessed. He then says that this is the area that enemy soldiers have never stepped foot on. I respond that obviously they haven’t it’s a ridiculous hike up a mountain with only one road, all you have to do is shoot down and they’ll never get up. But then I’m told that the Azeris tried to bomb it with a helicopter and actually got the bombs off which hit the wall but they didn’t detonate! How crazy is that, maybe this church really is blessed. So I go along the walls and low and behold you can actually see the bomb, its still in the wall! This was a crazy unexpected stop, we were here so long that were not going to make it to the Nigol Tuman museum but who cares because now our trip to Karabakh is complete because its true you really haven’t been to Karabakh until you’ve been to Gandzasar. So we head back to the hotel and had some real kick ass dolma. I cant even explain how good it was, kind of like the entire karabakh trip. So now were off to head back on the 8 hour ride to Yerevan. On the way back they say were going to stop at Noravank, yes another church. Once again I’m not that excited to see another freeking church, but I guess when youre the first Christians in the world youre going to have a few churches. So right as I start to fall asleep we get to Noravank. Wow, this place really is in the middle of nowhere, what made them build a church here? They say it has one of the only sculptures of a picture of god in the world so I guess weve got to see that. The key to the beauty of this particular church is its location, its in a canyon right between two mountains and we get there at dusk so it’s a gorgeous time of day. My brother decides to jump a small wall as a shortcut to get to the church and the caretaker comes out and yells at him that “gark ganon ga, harkank ga as inhe eh” and makes him go all the way around and take the stairs up. This was another really cool church, no real cool story with it besides that its looks great and once again is an extremely calming place. I now understand how religion connects with spirituality, back then the places they built these churches were really spiritual, not like a random huge church on brand boulevard.
So we get back on the bus and Lara busts out another bottle of cognac. At first there is a few seconds of hesitation then we all jump on board and start swigging out of the bottle and get to Yerevan a bit tipsy. So we go out hit up some gas shots, once again taking new people, go to the club Montecristo and end up crashing at some time or another.

I’m sure more happened but at this point in the blog you get a sense of the partying scene so im only gonna add particularly interesting stories from this point on.

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