There is one thing I know for sure: one should never be afraid. I spent some of my 100 days out of Georgia in the country where nothing is black or white; it has many shades and many ways to be, which can be discovered only if you are open and brave enough to explore the places and meet the people. Ashot, the guest house owner which suffers from some kind of brain injure, was calm and mad, honest and sneaky, suspicious and open-hearted at the same time. He showed us that Armenia is the country in which you feel no fear; not all of its many faces are pretty, but it doesn’t make you frightened. Therefore my story will not be about the universe, I have nothing to say about love and it was already told too much about the faith – I want to share something that is different from Georgia: the silence, the space and the darkness.
There is one very special moment of a day just before the sunrise: many travelers, artists and philosophers have worshiped the hour of down when the world becomes silent, and frozen time imprisons every living creature on the ground in a mood of slow motion. In this peace you can feel how thick and how light at the same the air is, making you inhale this silence which like the velvet goes through your throat. I was siting in marshrutka going from Yerevan to the southern part of Armenia when suddenly the first light in the morning appeared from behind of the mount Ararat. After realizing how wonderful it is, all purple with its white peak, I understood why are Armenians so disappointed to be able just to watch the mount.
Nevertheless, people there have many things to enjoy: while walking around the black garden full of autumn leaves I felt that I’m inhaling fresh air, mixed with the smell of sweet pomegranate wine and the finest baklava which is so good in this land that it melts in one’s mouth. The young Armenian boy I met in a bus said that it is so sweet because of the life in such regions – the heavier it is, the sweeter your desserts should be. “Are people atheists in Europe?” he asked after I told him how openhearted Armenians seem to be. “Some of them are”, I answered. “That is the reason – you have no faith, therefore you are all so selfish, thinking only about yourselves”. After that conversation nobody broke the silence in a bus till the very end of the trip.
And then when the sun reached its zenith something happened – the world was opened and I saw the space I haven’t seen for a long time. No matter how beautiful Georgia is, everywhere you go you feel the weight of the sky: it is above you in the mountains, by the sea, in the forest, deep in the valleys and meadows, even in Tbilisi the big eye is watching you. But just as the noise was muted in Armenia, it seemed like the heavy hood was removed from my head as well. The mountains were growing out of the plain, and regardless of their altitude the sky was not occupied.
I found myself in an endless space and my sight was not trapped anymore. It was traveling freely in the pagan temple of Garni, which looks so out of the Armenian context that finally it fits in. The structure was supposed to be a temple to the sun god Myhr and is one of the few monuments of pre-christian Armenia, and now it is just a gravestone in blurred Armenian autumn. From Garni one can see the road which leads to the other place, all drowned in sun and dust.
I took this gilded road to Geghard without even knowing that such a small monastery carved in a rock contains so many space inside – one could even see it coming through the window and growing in the simple but solemn chamber. The sound of water caught my attention and for a moment I stood astonished, thinking that the water in a dark room comes out of nowhere, until I saw the person falling to his knees to wash his face and drink from this spring. His things were all around him on the ground, and all he had at that moment was this water. But at the same time he held all the sacredness of that place in his palms.
“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees:
but he who is not afraid of my darkness,
will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”
After I left the monastery the strange feeling that all the light remains inside appeared: the sun was going down. Since I still had to reach my last point in Armenian trip, the race with the sun was about to start. It is almost impossible to watch how the sun rises or observe the sunset in such cities as Tbilisi, surrounded by mountains and hills, but during my crazy running to the Sevan lake I saw how slowly but inevitably the night comes: spilled shadows and mists appeared on the ground, and everything lost its colors.
In mountainous regions the temperature goes down together with the sun, so after the sunset it becomes difficult to stay outdoors. Nevertheless, the cold was the only problem. The forecast of Armenian darkness gave me no fear, just excitement: the same feeling of velvet appeared in the air so one could almost taste it mixed with iron and beeswax. But the odds were in my favor and the great Armenian trip was finished in the same manner as it started: the sun disappeared in the depth of Sevan lake.