2019-06-01 Armenia

The cascades of Yerevan, the Geghard Monastery, the pagan temple of Garni – I like Armenia. I posted some pictures to my Mastodon account on Octodon Social. I’ll probably create a gallery after returning from my trip.

I love their script: Հայաստան, պաշտոնական անվանումը՝ Հայաստանի Հանրապետություն, պետություն Առաջավոր Ասիայի.

We saw many churches in remote places. Given that almost nobody I knew had been to Armenia I had expected very few tourists. But no. There are plenty. Happily enough also a lot of Armenian kids on a school trip, as far as I can tell.

These churches are often found at the end of beautiful valleys.

I’m surprised by how green things are in spring (end of May).

Seeing small bridges from the 12th century and an old caravanserai that used to be part of the Silk Road is exciting. And again, lush green grass covering the hills, and snow capped mountains at the horizon in all directions. I like the landscape and I wish the bus would stop more often for photos. I missed so many meandering streams, green meadows sprinkled with yellow and red flowers; black and red basalt columns; steep gorges.

We also saw a lot of beauty and decay in the far north of Armenia, where copper mines ruin the landscape and deindustrialisation has reduced the population by half.

Anyway, things are… complicated. Armenia is poor, plagued by memories of the genocide, in a frozen conflict with Turkey and Azerbaijan, thus the only contact to the rest of the world via air, Iran, or Georgia and Russia, and decades of cleptocracy. But a revolution last year seems to have improved the situation somewhat. But if the past has taught us one thing it’s that the people in power remain in power, the rich remain rich, and the corrupt stay corrupt. It doesn’t matter if you cut the hydra’s head. To stop it from regrowing takes decades. A first step is made.

But notice:

@OCCRP: “Current and former members of parliament, tax officials, honorary diplomats, and other Armenian officials have purchased expensive properties in Dubai, raising questions about how they could afford them.” – Wealthy Armenians Join the Dubai Land Rush

I brought back some pictures, too!



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