The morning sun is a welcoming guest high up in the mountains. We are now at almost 2500 meters above sea level and the wind carries the cold air into the van. Great for sleeping, a little less for cooking and living outside. But, we are Dutchies, thus no cold air can prevent us from living our life’s outside. And the sun is shining so what are we complaining about?!

Today we’ll be looking back at the past few days. They were intense, a lot of driving, visiting new places and finding spots to sleep.

Visiting the most famous Armenian monastery

We visited Tatev monastery. Probably the most famous monastery of Armenia, not the most pretty one though. But, at Tatev monastery you can walk through the ancient bishop chambers and that’s a lot of fun! The church itself is not that interesting so we didn’t stay too long. We slept on the parking lot of the ‘wings of Tatev’, the longest cable car of the world, thus holds a Guinness book of records. Even though parking lots aren’t that idyllic, we did have a toilet we could use and in the night they closed the gates so no visitors. Except for some dogs, cats and horses.

The next day we continued our route in the direction of Goris and beyond. Driving towards Azerbaijan, but just before we visited Old Khndzoresk, a cave city. The main interesting part of the city is that is was last inhabited in 1975 – as a local told us. The government didn’t think it would be good for the people to continue living in caves so they were moved to the top of the gorge. There isn’t much to see what we didn’t already see elsewhere but we had a good hike up and down the village and crossing a huge handmade hanging bridge.

We returned to the car and moved towards a waterfall. A pretty nice and rather big waterfall, the first one we’ve seen in Armenia. It’s quite dry here in the south, the landscape is bare and rocky. Trees can be found in the gorges but most of the landscape looks like the Wild West of the USA (never been there but we’re comparing it to movies and series we’ve seen). Actually it does feel a bit like driving through the scene of Westworld. But this ain’t a game where people can experience the wild west. Or maybe it is. 

Dispute over land kills people

A couple of days ago an Armenian soldier got shot by an Azerbaijani sniper in an area where we just drove through. It feels surreal, enjoying the beautiful landscape, driving from highlight to highlight while soldiers are being killed because of a war over land. It’s the same story over and over again. Whether it’s in Israël/Palestina, the Krim/Russia or Armenia/Azerbaijan. We fight over land and what’s below it. People die, people become homeless and we keep discussing who was first on the land that should be home to everyone.

We’ve visited churches centuries old, a caravanserai from 1332, standing stones dating back to 7.500 years… Often we see Armenian inscriptions on these man made sights. The first Armenian state was established in 860 BC. Azerbaijan being founded in 1918, you can imagine to whom the land truly belongs. Apparently it’s too easy to look at it this way. Anyway, the interference of the USSR and especially the fall of the Soviet Union didn’t help in the dispute over land. The people lived rather peacefully together during the Soviet Union, after the fall wars broke out. Newly erected governments wanted more land for themselves, not thinking about the people living there. All over the pre Soviet states war started. In most cases it ended quickly, but in some like Armenia and Azerbaijan it didn’t. And we’re not sure it ever will. 

Not something we can solve in this blog post so let’s continue for now. Can’t promise it won’t come back in another blog though.

We found a very nice place to stay for the night near the waterfall. Though we did have to clean the area and after collecting three bags of waste in 15 minutes we thought it clean enough to relax.

The problem of waste

Waste is another big problem. It might kill more living things than war does. And it can be found everywhere. Seriously, since we left The Netherlands we’ve seen so much waste lying around. It’s so sad, sometimes we hardly see the flowers through the waste. When we camp in the wild we often need to clean the area to be able to enjoy nature and not be surrounded by so much waste. So we decided to make waste collecting cool. Though we don’t know how yet. Any ideas? 

Love, Milene & Yuri