On Friday the 7th, the group went to the home of the Shirak Gen.Gen. chair, Unger Artak. As we sat down to the smorgasbord of delicacies placed before us, Unger Artak’s mother told us her experience from the day of the earthquake in ’88. The vividness of her story turned the events that happened more than 20 years ago into a reality and reinforced the fact that this region still needs our assistance in whatever way we can.
The next day, we took a two-hour ride to a camp site called Lasdeever; a truly enchanting place that met us with many surprises. As if it was pre-planned, the second we got out of the van, it started raining. So, in the rain, we all began what would become an hour and a half hike down the mountain. The hike consisted of extremely muddy terrain, slippery rocks and a constant supply of rain to keep us company. We were also limited in our mobility because we each had our hands full with either sleeping bags or other camping materials. Also, our tour guide was a lumberjack-esque man dressed head-to-toe in camouflage, carrying a multitude of seemingly unnecessary weaponry, including a very loud, sawed-off shotgun he enjoyed shooting at inopportune moments.
There were many times when we were ankle-deep in mud and once we got our feet out of the mud we’d proceed to fall on our behinds in that same mud. We all helped each other when passing by difficult areas. Once we got there, we were expecting a cabin with beds and indoor insulation; however, we were unexpectedly greeted by a tent that was to fit 12 people. Needless to say, we were relatively surprised, but we made the best of it.
Since it was still raining, we couldn’t make our kebab, so we sat down together, very closely, and had bread and yeghshig sandwiches and sang. Once there was a break in the weather, we seized our opportunity to make our kebab. Soon enough, the rain started up again. But the end result was delicious. After that, we all went to sleep, there was very little space, but no one really minded because it increased the already low level of heat in the tent.
This experience did wonders for our bonding as a group. The next morning we woke up and went on a hike to look at the different caves in the area. This hike had no trails and was mostly just climbing steep sides of mountains, grabbing onto rocks and trees, and anything else that would support us. We saw a cave from the Stone Age, filled with magnificent carvings and priceless history.
Once we saw all the different caves and waterfalls, we went back to the campground, and went to the waterfall where a few of the boys took a swim in the roaring waters. Next we packed up and started our trek back. We were once again met by rain. On our way back we were more confident with our mountaineering skills, but the uphill climb made it difficult. When we finally made it to the top we were all grateful for the comfort of the bus and vowed to never take heat and personal space for granted again.