Walked today along the old road from Kecharis Monastery to Lake Sevan, about 32km and an ascent of 740m, through rolling prairies littered with thousand year old churches high on hilltops
and scattered post Soviet debris
For the most part the road lay along a valley floor and the churches were on great hill tops and after three or four hours I no longer had the burning vital forces necessary to find and ascend the tracks up to them.
I was at one point passed by a wedding procession of about 30 cars, honking and shouting. Some of the drivers stuck their head out the window and asked something in Armenian that just sounded like wtf are you doing here in the middle of nowhere.
A couple stopped to pick me up but when I indicated to them I wanted to walk, they determined I must be insane and looked grateful that I didn’t actually get in.
A pair of likely lads did stop their car and try their luck, for fun and profit, but for the most part just the fact that I was here, with a backpack, a long stride and a big stick was enough to advise caution.
Not sure where this was, maybe about 1/2 way? To the left is an abandoned factory. Those pipes line the road in many places and are gas pipes; I don’t know what happens when someone runs into them.
For the first time also I started passing the old metal containers that are often painted and used as houses. I guess they were left behind when the Soviets abandoned the place. There are people living here – you can see the chickens. Though the vehicle seems to be beyond reclamation.
Near the end of the day I was on a deserted intersection at the edge of Sevan town trying to work out which arm of a fork to take. The problem was the lake is 78km long and lack of foresight meant I wasn’t sure exactly which part of it I needed to head for.
Two gents motioned me into their shop front and I thought a cup of strong Armenian coffee would be no bad thing right now. Instead their offer was more traditional: alcohol and a woman. Of the latter they had only one, but she seemed to be enough. Plenty of body, plenty of makeup, and a big smile. But both alcohol and woman looked a little strong for me. I mentioned that day I had walked from Tsanghkor and was very tired. “You walk so far, you are very strong. Definitely you can handle this woman”. I looked at her again. This seemed implausible, even for a man of my accomplishments. So instead I spoke well of her clear charms, but regretfully took my leave.
Their directions were as ill thought-out as their business plan, so I was now lost as darkness was imminent. Also, I did not know where on the vast shore of the lake I was going to stay, or how to get there even if I did. I happened across a group of grizzled taxi drivers with their old Russian taxis. I had an idea and suggested where they might take me. Ooh they said, that is 10km, it will cost 1000 dram ($2.50).
By this time I knew it was about 5km, and should be about 500 dram, but if an old Armenian taxi driver, a man born under Stalin, and who has seen off the Soviets, can’t cheat a foreigner out of a dollar, what is life worth?
So I got into his richly carpeted taxi, taking care not to break anything with my stick, and off we drove.
(events 12 Nov 2012)