I ascended in an old, rusty, somewhat cracked, soviet-era cable car, from Alaverdi, an ugly mining town at the bottom of the valley, almost vertically to Sarahart, at the top of the plateau. A kilometre down was the dust and industry I might soon be forced to disturb. Some idiot guide-book had suggested this was a “fun way to ride” to Sarahart. While there are a few guide-book writers I would take to lunch, the vast majority should be vaporized as soon as appropriate hardware becomes available.
Exiting at the top, there were cows, chickens and some rundown gardens. The cows waiting, as usual, for events to take a turn in their favor, and the chickens, as usual, going about their business with their usual recklessness.
Walking a bit further uphill, the town square was dominated by fruit sellers selling fruit from cardboard boxes and a man with an ax and a carcass selling meat by the chunk:
A poor town, tumbling but nice houses:
people making a living from their produce and livestock:
Yesterday, not far from here, I had seen a man grazing his 12 cattle, and today scattered boys each grazing a few pigs. Men stood around idly, hitching their pants. An economist would sum it up, as he would sum up poor places everywhere: low productivity of labor.
A place whose only frill had long deserted it:
except perhaps for the long-distance bus whose passengers push-started it at the beginning of their journeys, before relaxing inside their curtained windows:
Another 30 minutes and I reached my objective: the 10th century Sanahin Monastery. The first building was built in 928, the library in 1062 and the medical school in 1100. Once an empire, now a village.
The buildings were squat, like a fortress, but harmonious, and now with moss on the roofs and creepers coming down the walls. The insides held the scattered dust of learning in a quiet, cool peace.
A path led up to a cemetery. The stones on the right are actually gravestones:
From this cemetery souls can roam, like me, the surrounding mountains, valleys and ancient holy places:
As I walked around the area, on every near hilltop I could see ruins. But the roads now were lined with fruit trees. A man driving smelly, unshorn sheep. And the sound of a braying donkey.