Translated from the Armenian language lav means good. I use it as my love for Armenia that grow during the time I’ve cycled here.
With pride I am on my bike again from a break in Yerevan. I just turned down an offered hitchhike to Tehran by an Iranian guy at the hostel where I was staying. It was tempting but I didn’t want to miss any of the mountains in southern Armenia.
In a village that I cross I can’t in any possible way find a grocery store to replenish my water. I decide to ask a guy who looks a little bit older than me. He beckons me to his house where his mother ask me if I want a coffee. I like coffee so I accept the offer. I know how to appease her curiosity by explaining in sign language what I’m doing. Not much later I walk out of the house with a bottle filled with water and a bag of those tasty dough pancakes, cheese and fresh herbs. I also this time cannot believe the amazing hospitality that I receive, although now I’m a little bit more used to it.
Every country I have crossed so far knows hospitality. In some cultures it is more obvious than others. People who like to help others and just want to make other people happy. Everyone has a certain way in doing it. People take care of me, I’m thankful for that.
Later in the day I get shouted from the roadside by a man just after the village Shaghap. The man explains me that where I am now is a memorial place. Here the war is commemorated in Armenia. This year it is 100 years ago. Armenia is a country that has a rich history. Now that I am cycling through it I’m confronted with it.
Also in 2015 it’s still difficult for Armenia to be independent and free without any conflicts going on. For example, there are conflicts with Azerbaijan and because of what happened in 1915 the border is closed with Turkey. The Russians help Armenia to resolve the conflicts but this is also because of self-interest. These political difficulties make it for the people in Armenia not always easy to have a normal existence. I am once more happy that in the Netherlands we mainly worry about financial cuts from the government.
I am invited to stay the night at this memorial place in a barn with water and electricity. I feel lucky again.
The next morning I get back on my bike to cycle in the direction of Iran. Some wild animal heavily scares me when he tries to steel my trash bag. I quickly grab my head torch and come face to face with a wild dog. One with courage I must say. From out of fear I chase him away and take all my food inside my tent.
Back on the bike and in southern Armenia I come across all street vendors. They sell mushrooms. Nice, I think, and decide to buy a bucket. Semi-dull of mountain climbing, I ask some vendor for a price. 5000 Armenian Dramm, which is about ten euros. I’m right back sharp and start making it clear that at a Dutch supermarket called Albert Heijn that bucket will cost me 1.69 in euro. It won’t help, the price does not go down. Without any mushrooms I start cycling again.
It has become hot. The sun stings my skin. Horseflies roam around me, waiting for the moment I stop to massively attack my calves. I beat them with a twig. Salamanders hide in front of me. Some mountains are too steep, so I walk. It’s looking like a jungle here.
After a long, hard but definitely worthwhile trip, I finally pitch my tent for my last night in Armenia. I’m in the wonderful town Agarat and a thirteen year old boy brought me to the soccer field of this town to pitch my tent. The mountains here are too dangerous to use as a camping place as Armenia is fighting here with Azerbaijan.
In front of me I see the Iranian border. This is Iran, I think, here I have been looking forward to for months. This is the country that probably will set the highlights of my entire journey. Well, I’m ready for it.