There is no shortage of recent success stories about national economies skipping the development of a large manufacturing sector and instead building a prosperous economy on a robust services industry alone. Countries like Ireland, Norway, and India have largely forgone manufacturing and instead focused their economies on services, the sector of the economy that includes things like finance, software development, design, IT, media, customer support, and other services that are increasingly becoming easier to trade in thanks to technology.
The petroglyphs, or rock engravings, of Ughtasar can be found all over Yerevan; they are inscribed onto silver jewelry, painted onto coffee cups, traced into hand-made pottery, and they adorn the walls of cafes. Reaching the actual petroglyphs of Ughtasar (“ught” meaning camel and “sar” meaning mountain, due to the resemblance of its peaks to the humps of a camel) can be a bit of a challenge, and as with most of Armenia’s noteworthy sites this provides half of the trip’s excitement and intrigue.
Dilijan and Parz Lich: Located in Northern Armenia, Dilijan is like the Armenian Alps. Check out the beautiful old wooden homes in Old Dilijan or take a hike around the crystalline Parz Lich.
Most Armenians in Javakhk live in villages, farm to survive and celebrate traditions to preserve their culture. They are a nationalistic people, passionate about their Armenian history and language. They are also fearless in protecting their rights, as any human across the globe should be. But within the last decade, the Georgian government has suffocated these Armenians with discrimination and economic fear.
Every city is mirror for and reflection of society. The city creates a backdrop to a theatrical performance, which is the life of the people interacting in it. We build the city to reflect what we would like to have as the backdrop to the story of our lives, and after the city ages she reminds us of our thoughts at the time and what scenes from our life’s play we were performing then. Even if we might forget the details, the city—in all that it is and isn’t in that moment—will forever remind us.
Our groups’ time in Gyumri is quickly coming to an end, and before we make our way to Shushi I want to reflect on the city of Gyumri and its current condition. Gyumri is Armenia’s second largest city and in a lot of ways it’s a microcosm of Armenia.
May, 1994- As a result of the war over 11,500 sq. km are liberated. The Shahumian region remains under Azeri control. There is no international recognition of Karabakh.
I was in Sushi, a war torn city that was taken back a few years ago by a people that were determined to choose their own future and had made it happen. While I was buttering my toast, I was thinking, “Wow, everything I am eating here is purely organic” (I didn’t eat the hot dog). These organic products were what people in LA would easily pay top dollar for. I could already imagine it at Trader Moe’s, priced at $4 a jar, labeled “Organic Raspberry Jam” along with the butter and cheese.
It is mid-August again and the heat may be unbearable here in Yerevan, but it is perfect conditions for climbing Mt. Ararat (elevation 5,137 m/16,854 ft)—the best time of year for such an undertaking. In the past month or so, I have heard of a few groups of climbers who have successfully climbed Ararat and proudly announced their achievement. A bit of controversy has been hitting the online news services, as a result, mostly about the reaction from Turkey. There has been a lot of noise regarding whose flag was up there and what it really represented.
My summer in Armenia was an eye opening experience to say the least. While Americans worry about the release of the latest Ipod or the new fashion trends of the season, Armenians worry about affording day-to-day necessities such as gas and water. As time progresses, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain a living, which has made staying in the homeland a difficult decision.