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Published: August 11th 2013
Since Turkey the bus trips have been quite daunting, fast drivers over taking purely on luck. We hope our bus ride to Yerevan will be a bit smoother but it turns out to be the worst one yet. We wait three hours in the marshutka before it departs (they have no time schedule, they only leave when the bus is full) Two hours before we are meant to arrive the bus suddenly stops. We look out of the window to see the aftermath of a terrible accident, another marshutka has crashed with a large truck. People come towards us covered in blood; we quickly try to gather up the bottles of water from our marshutka to bring to the wounded and we start making our way to the accident to see if there is anything we can do. A Canadian guy who we had met before informs us that it is an awful scene and there are numerous people dead, we see there are more than enough people trying to help so head back to the bus. It is horrifying to hear people screaming and mourning their loved ones. There doesn´t seem to be much organized help as everyone is in
shock, many injured running around in panic. After half an hour one ambulance arrives to take over. In all the panic our bus driver decides he has waited long enough and we should try and get passed. He seems unfazed by the accident and is more interested in sticking to schedule but to us it seems inappropriate to try to manoeuvre around the bodies.
What was before a lively bus trip with everyone chatting cheerfully to one another was now a very sombre journey spent in silence while people sat despondently taking in what they had just witnessed
We arrive in Yerevan two hours later with a tragic scene in our heads that I doubt we will forget anytime soon. When I imagine seeing such things I always except to feel some overwhelming emotion but as usual it feels surreal and I can´t seem to grasp the reality of it. I feel how scientists describe animals and that I only have a certain capacity to feel emotion.
I hope the accident won´t be how we remember Armenia.
Aileen is our couch surfing host for the next six days. She is working in a school teaching German.
We are staying pretty much in the centre of town with our own room in her lovely house, on a hill, with a beautiful view of the city and the spectacular Mount Ararat (Where apparently Noah´s Ark docked after the big flood). We take the first couple of days slowly, exploring the city and getting to know a bit more about the history of Armenia.
We spend an informative day at the genocide Museum. The Armenian Genocide was the Ottoman government's attempt at exterminating the minority of Armenians living in their historic homeland, which is today the Republic of Turkey. The genocide is recognized as being one of the first modern genocides and is the second most studied genocide after the holocaust. It took place during and after World War 1 so many people didn´t notice it happening or turned a blind eye. The number of people thought to have been killed is estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 million.
Yerevan is even known as the pink city because during the soviet era they wanted the architecture of Yerevan to be the Epitome of how Soviet Union cities should appear. It is surprisingly a very
modern city, with a big focus on modern sculptures and plenty of parks. There is also a gigantic staircase, called the Cascade monument, with numerous fantastic modern sculptures and located under it is a great fine arts museum. On top the hill we find an amusing amusement park with probably the first carousels, merry go rounds and rides to be built😉 Well, they appear to be.
We spend alot of time socialzing with friends of friends that all seem to be in Yerevan. We spend a nice eveving having a drink and making music with Alex, a friend of Simon´s, and after three days exploring the city, our old host Joe from Tbilisi arrives to stay with us for a couple of days. We make a nice trip out Garni temple and the old Geghard Monastery. The Garni temple has a rich history. Armenia is the first country on record to officially state Christianity as their state religion and the old stone churches in the area are beautiful. The area was first occupied in the 3rd millennium BC and the temple was built for King Mithridates of Armenia. Not far away from the Garni temple is the Geghard Monastry.
The Geghard Monastery was built in the a fourth century and is a monastery carved into the cliffs. It´s in a stunning location, surrounded by large mountains where it looks over the Azat River gorge in the Caucasus region of Armenia.
The last few days the temperature is around 30°c so it is brilliant that on our last day there is a water festival called Vartavar. A day where people of all ages are allowed to douse strangers with water. People hide in bushes waiting to attack with water pistols and people in apartments wait for a victim to walk under their window before throwing water from their balconies. It was an entertaining and very refreshing last day.
In the afternoon we run back to the house for a warm shower and to say goodbye to Aileen, before attempting to find a marshutka to take us back to Tbilisi without getting our bags wet.
We will spend another day in Tbilisi with Joe before catching a flight to Kazakhstan/ Almaty!
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