My time in Armenia came to a premature end. As I sit here and think, I cannot come up with anything positive associated with the word “premature” (don’t think I didn’t sit here and give it the college try, though). Let’s blame it on politics; there are places from where you cannot fly home. Yerevan was just such a place for Jon, who was keen to get back to Ankara. Armenia and Turkey want nothing to do with one another, and this extends to commercial aviation as well. So, back it was to Tbilisi, an overnight in the Georgian capital, and then separate contrails over South Caucasian skies.
I tried to find a good vantage-point from which to take pictures of Armenia’s capital. The Genocide Museum seemed a likely spot, both because it overlooked the city from an elevated rise, and because it was already a planned destination in its own right. The website for the Museum indicated that the place would be open after extensive renovation earlier in December and January. We were not so lucky. We walked around the decaying outsides of a monument, and there was also a steel flower-looking structure surrounding a perpetually-burning flame in commemoration of the genocide victims. The museum was not open and the monument appeared to want to be left alone, so I snapped a few desultory pictures, and we were off to find a cab.
I’ll paraphrase someone far savvier regarding photography than I’ll ever be. According to said camera-whiz, even the most picturesque vista will have a hard time looking decent without the proper lighting. So, Yerevan, forgive me for the treatment you’re receiving here. I know you’ve seen better days, and there’ll be more of them around the corner.
After dinner, I was walking back to my hotel room, when a boy of about nine or so stepped out in front of me, and opened a portfolio out there amid the flurrying snow. In his 10-20 words of English, he managed to convey that his art was for sale, and that he is trying to buy his own computer. The smallest denomination I had with me was way too much, and I told him I would be happy to buy one of his paintings once I got some change. In tears, he told me he couldn’t wait, but that he wanted me to take one of his paintings for free. I practically ran to a neighborhood convenience store to buy a bottle of water, anything, to get some kind of change out it.
I got back to the spot where the original deal was supposed to go down, but no kid. I looked up and the down the entire street. No kid. Dejected, I started back to the hotel, feet freezing from my poor choice of footwear for the evening. About a block away from the hotel, a red-and-white size-4 raincoat comes barreling toward me. I pressed a wad of Armenian Drams, I don’t even know how many, into his hands. Now, I am the proud owner of this picture, and Hayke the entrepreneur is on his way to his very first computer. I wish him and Armenia the very best.
My trip to the mountain countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia are over. I would never have imagined the broad range of impressions that each would make on me. There is no way to get a proper sense for each in the paltry few days I spent per country, but I am grateful for having had the opportunity to travel to there all the same.
I am currently in the capital of Estonia, a few blocks from the Baltic Sea. A new adventure has begun, and I look forward to telling you about the beautiful history and culture of the Estonian people soon!