From Kalavan to Parz Lich

I awoke to the sound of rustling branches on grass, and poked my head out from the hut to see three men working on the fourth hut, partially built, which I then helped them finish. Then the most well-spoken, Robert showed me how to make cutting tools from obsidian rock. He began telling me his story, born and raised in Azerbaijan, moving to Armenia during the war, with a degree in Archaeology and a small BandB business. He was sharing his passion for the past with others by recreating many of the artifacts they left behind, within his village, not only to educate but as a means to encourage tourism. In fact he was leading the charge to rebuild his village, and create an all-inclusive, intentional community. Just like him, there was another man who moved there from Vanadzor and an environmental lawyer from Yerevan, all people of learning, studied, wanting to find a group of like-minded people, to start a new Armenia, and I want to be one of them. They don’t have a store in the village, they don’t allow plastic, they grow the food organically and are seeking certification. Every person is chosen to live there. It’s not random and everyone brings their unique specialty to the group.

I’ll definitely be back to visit, maybe even more there, but until then, I continue my journey north. It’s not long after leaving Robert’s that two young guys in a Jeep roll up, say they’re heading north, and offer me a ride in their jeep for some off-road fun. I hop in and we start heading through back roads on the mountains and through the forest, my head spins a little and I feel slightly queasy from all the bumping up and down and shaking in the car. As we go deeper into the forest, the trees grow taller, and the path becomes my defined by deeply grooved black mud. And suddenly the forest opens up to a lake in the middle of the woods, Goshi Lake, a picturesque space perfect to set up camp, and spent the night. I started a campfire and headed to sleep, only to wake up a few hours later, just as the fire smoldered, and there was pure darkness. It’s when I realized just how eerily silent the lake and surrounding forest was, no wind and tree litter. I could hear activity nearby, animals running, jumping, breaking branches, and getting closer. I sat up to shine my flashlight toward scampering feet on dry leaves and caught the green glow of a jackals eye staring back at me…

I didn’t sleep well that night. I simply waited with eyes open for the sunrise, to pack up and head towards Dilijan. It was a beautiful hike down, until I reached the touristic monastery of Goshavank, and from there another heavy used path to Parz lich, seeing people/tourists from all over the world hiking through the forest of tall beeches, oaks, and wild pears. Twenty-one kilometers later I could see Dilijan underneath me, from the ridge-line. It was late in the day, so I set up camp with plans to enter the city the next day.