This country remains a stranger to me!
I have been sitting in front of the “blank page” for hours working on a report about Armenia, a stranger. I have no idea what to write. It’s not that we didn’t experience and see an unspeakable amount of things to write about on our way to Yerevan. A city that deserves its own article with all its history and diversity. The page remains empty because I don’t have the right words.
Normally, I always have at least one concrete topic when I want to write something about a country. About Armenia, I am speechless. European, Asian, culturally rich? Scenically beautiful, touristy? A nation full of chess players?
We’ve been in Yerevan for 10 days and still have a few to go. We are waiting for the Iran visa.
Thinking about Armenia makes me awestruck!
While I think about what I could write about this country, no bigger than Brandenburg but feels so much bigger, it warms my heart. A stranger wouldn’t, right? The longer we are on the road, the more countries we pass through, the less we inform ourselves in advance. We listen to well-intentioned recommendations, but push them straight into a drawer and close them for the time being. Our views on things are too different, our expectations too different, our experiences too different.
We want to make our own experience!
And that’s when it happened: I like this country with its wonderful nature, its contrasts, its sensitivities, its reserved, friendly people.
Already on the first kilometres we notice that everything is a bit simpler, more sparsely populated.
A poor country! A poor country?
Now the difficulties begin, because you, who claim this, and I, who deny it, would have to define what poverty means for one or the other.
Is the “unpacked” food in the shops (hip in Berlin, by the way) a sign of poverty? Is it poverty when the Lada is the car of the street? Or is it poor when the mega fat SUV’s and luxury limousines push their way through the streets of Yerevan.
Are the people who only give us the most delicious apricots from their trees with a big smile poor because it is not a apricot tart?
I have already written about the “comparison” in an earlier article. That’s exactly what I don’t want to do here either.
There may often be a lack of Western consumer goods in the small shops or they may be really expensive, but everything we need is available in abundance: Bread, vegetables, fruit and eggs , noodles, potatoes and water. But even otherwise I can’t see a shortage of daily goods. As always, it’s a question of perspective. They have their own fantastic chips, “unpackaged”, and simply the best peaches I have ever eaten.
And the Armenians themselves? They keep up with the times, of course, walking around with smartphones. Here in Armenia, people seem to leave each other “alone”. If someone approaches us, it’s usually only with two or three questions at the most, after which people go their separate ways again.
These people have such a warm and reserved manner. I like that very much.But I have also learned that we can rely on them when we need help. And not just once.
There was Mischa, for example. It was thunderstorming and we wanted to pitch our tent in a place close to a house. Despite his poor dwelling, he was immediately willing to give us his narrow garden and all he could offer. It was wonderful and we were safely accommodated.
Or the small inn at a monastery allowed us to set up our tent directly in an empty Coca Cola tent. There were also supposed to be heavy thunderstorms that night.
What will I remember from this trip?
A good friend asked me what we remembered most about the trip so far. And I immediately remembered that poverty does not mean being untidy or even messy. I am impressed by how tidy all the people are, how tidy the homes, the streets. I would probably be ashamed if an Armenian visited us in Berlin. I would avoid showing certain districts because it would be hard to explain why it is so dirty there.
Perhaps a stranger turns into a friend!
We’ve been waiting for the visa for Iran for some time now and it will take a few more days, but we’ve resigned ourselves to it and who knows, maybe we’ll just play a few games of chess to pass the time.
I want to understand the stranger, not separate myself. Whether I will succeed in this, we will see.
Until then, if you like to see through my eyes, some more of my impressions from our way 🙂