Vodka with tonic is for wimps

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September 21st 2012
Published: September 23rd 2012
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The start of the Lastiver trailThe start of the Lastiver trailThe start of the Lastiver trail

Rod and I ready to trek to the bottom of the gorge
An early start this morning - 8.30am. A change of battery and we were off to Lastiver with a quick stop at Ijevan to shop at the market. Lavash, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber and aubergine with cheese and yogurt. Quick stop to photograph Mother Armenia and then a steep climb up another twisting, rough road with a sheer drop on one side. I should be used to this by now.

The road ends at a horse-riding school which looks a bit incongruous on the hillside. Once the walking boots were on, we set off down to the gorge. Saro had to wait for is friend Hovo who was going to take the jeep and put it in his garage.

The path down to the river is pretty good apart from one bit where the path is narrow, with a sheer cliff on one side and a sheer drop on the other. Not good for my vertigo. I just had to make sure that I didn't look over the edge. I wonder if anyone has ever gone over? The last bit is quite a steep climb down but suddenly you are there at the campsite. It's beautiful down there -
Watermelon carWatermelon carWatermelon car

Down at Ijevan market
just the sound of the river and voices. Everything has been built by the brothers who lease the land using things that have come from some sort of army surplus store. Quite a few people were wearing camouflage, we were beginning to wander if we were actually in some terrorist cell, especially as there were quite a few there whine the bar.

The tree house, which was one of the sleeping quarters, had been knocked down by a falling tree and so the guys, including Saro, began to go about fixing it. They would be dead handy down at the rowing club - they'd create changing rooms from a couple of trees and some nails!. Armenians have a can do attitude and just get on with it, they are a dab hand at fixing things with very little regard for health and safety.

A lot of people walk down to the river just for the day and because it was Armenian Independence day, there were a lot of people there . None locals usually get some of the local village boys to act as guides. We talked to quite a few people down from Yerevan. Day trippers needed
Ijevan marketIjevan marketIjevan market

This is where we shopped for our food to take to camp.
to get out of Lastiver before dark. There is no way I would walk that path once the sun has gone.

There is nothing better than sleeping next to running water. We had a little hut to sleep in with lilos and sleeping bags. Marina and Saro were planning to be in the tree house although there was one snag - it didn't have any steps leading up to it or a roof...yet.

Marina made us some Armenian coffee - the best I've had so far.

We walked up to the waterfall and back but we couldn't find a way of getting to the top. I spent some time in one of the hammocks set up for people to relax in while Rod did a bit of bird watching.

Then it was time for our lunch - definitely the best yet and cooked by Saro - rice pilaf with herb salad, roasted veg salad ( superb), cheese and yogurt all swilled down with Killikia beer. Lovely or Anoush!

The tree house was beginning to rise like a Phoenix.

One of the groups down for the day, were playing drama games just like the ones
Path t LastiverPath t LastiverPath t Lastiver

Sheer drop to left.
we play in the UK. Strange to see in a remote campsite. A group of lads from Sri Lanka appeared carrying pots and pans and then they disappeared upstream to the waterfall.

The rest of the afternoon was spent. Hanging around the campsite, walking to the river, relaxing in a hammock and generally doing nothing. Meanwhile, Saro and Vaghe continued to fix the treehouse - creating a ladder, making a roof out of waterproof material and lining the inside to keep out drafts.

The group staying overnight are young people from a political party. They seemed to be doing a mix of activities and political seminars. We joined them at the campfire in the evening. They sang a lot of patriotic songs - I understood about one word per song. They also played games, one of which, we actually managed to join in with as it demanded limited language.

Our preferred drink of the evening was home-made grape and plum vodka. This is drunk straight which takes a bit of getting used to. Three of us managed to get through a half litre bottle. The political group had to wait until their leader allowed them to drink or not. For quite a long time they weren't, then suddenly the vodka was out and everything became even livelier.

The walk back to our hut was a challenge. We would never have made it without a torch!

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


Ladderless Tree house Ladderless Tree house
Ladderless Tree house

Work in progress
Finished tree houseFinished tree house
Finished tree house

All down to a bit of ingenuity
The Armenian and Karabagh flagsThe Armenian and Karabagh flags
The Armenian and Karabagh flags

Celebrating Armenian independence day
Lastiver barLastiver bar
Lastiver bar

Choc full of homemade vodka!

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