What A Trip
Artsakh, day 3. We made pasta from scratch today (not really, but it felt like it).
Artsakh. Kharabakh. Shushi. Stepanakert. To some, these words may be just that – words. Others may know Artsakh to be an autonomous region that isn’t recognized as its own, independent country. Scholars and historians will know about the region based on what is written in books. However, to the 143,600 citizens living in Artsakh, the word “Artsakh” means home. It’s the land that Armenians fought and died for. And honestly, the books do no justice. The pictures do no justice. The spoken word does no justice to the real deal. As cliche as that may sound, it’s the truth. Artsakh has six different regions: Askeran, Martuni, Martakert, Hadrut, Shahumian, and Shushi. The greenery, fields, and clean air in Shushi is so different from city life. Life is literally in slow motion here; there’s no rush, no craziness. It’s perfect. The kids here are so attentive, welcoming, and curious, which makes Jampar (camp) that much better. You can see how proud the campers and their parents are to live on this land and be able to call this their home. These two weeks in Arstakh are going to be great. From get-togethers with foreign AYF groups such as France, to viewing all the sights Artsakh has to offer, this is going to be a good ending to such a memorable and inspiring trip.
It wouldn’t be right to talk about Artsakh without mentioning the drive. The drive to Artsakh was an adventure on its own. Moments like those we had in the van are the ones I relish, for that’s when everyone is careless, having fun, and just having a good time with each other.
So, the trip started; a 12-hour road trip, to be exact. Our first stop was Khor Virap, an Armenian Apostolic monastery located close to Armenia’s border with Turkey. The view of Ararat from Khor Virap is breathtaking yet extremely bittersweet. Seeing the Turkish watchtowers and knowing that Ararat is not on present-day Armenian soil is aggravating; it serves as a reminder that the fight for our homeland is far from over. Our next stop was Noravank, another monastery, built on top of a mountain in a narrow gorge in the 13th century. 5 hours later, we arrived at Tatev Monastery. I’ve been to Tatev once before, but that was before the cable cars were built. I can now say that I’ve been on the world’s longest cable car, Wings of Tatev. In my opinion, the view from the cable car and from the actual monastery itself is one of the best in Armenia. The greenery and the church in the distance leave you speechless. Finally, I was able to cross that trip off my bucket list, but I know that I will definitely make a ret rn trip to Tatev in the future. The next four hours of the trip were probably the most memorable. Singing songs, luggage falling on us while sleeping, and poking fun at people in our group who are scared of cliffs (Hi Taleen!)… Let’s just say we had a good time. Upon arrival in Shushi, we went directly to our host family’s house. To our surprise, we were also welcomed by four Argentinian street performers playing random instruments and performing crazy acrobatics. Needless to say, this trip is one that will be remembered well into the future.
It’s weird knowing that this all coming to an end soon. It’s been almost 5 weeks we’ve been here, but it feels like we arrived at Zvartnots Airport yesterday. Coming to Armenia with AYF was one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I think the final week here will just reassure that statement.
“So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along.” – J. Hastings
There’s so much to see in the world and there’s nothing better than going to your homeland and meeting and working with the future generation of your country.
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!