The next day, I climbed past wild horses and hogs, through misty clouds, past colorful trees and lichen covered rocks, to the peak and for the first time, saw Georgia in the distance. I made it, but I wasn’t done yet. I want to go to the most northern village in Armenia, and I still had a few days to get there. Through an abandoned village and beautiful, thick forest, I headed east and reached the village of Bendik, a dying village in the exhaust, poison cloud of the Aleverdi mineral processing plant. The people were sick, with mental disorders and cancerous growths. I didn’t stay long, I couldn’t. From there it was through the forest again, a place with trails heading in every direction. I followed till they would end, get lost, only to end up on a trail once again. Pushing through thick, sharp, blackberry thickest, cut, scraped and bleeding, I continued on. In the distance I could see what looked like a plantation, a plateau of manicured greens. Once I arrived, I discovered the remnants of a Swiss inspired mansion left to rot, someone’s dreams died there. I spent the night on the grounds after exploring the exquisitely detailed structure, and work to another sunny day. I was not in a sub-tropic micro-climate, walking through orchards of pomegranate, persimmon, and figs, the plants I encountered at the beginning of my journey, and hadn’t seen since.
At the end of the day, I had made to a village where I could see my destination and the border crossing in front of me, but now is the time to reflect, to recoup my strength, to reach my final point not with a stumble, but with a bang. Tomorrow, I will continue North. I’m almost there, only ten kilometers to go. The last few days have been different. Mentally and emotionally, I’ve finished my journey, and physically I push myself more to get there as fast as possible. The people I see in the streets call out my name, tell me things about myself, personal things they saw on TV. I’m treated with warmth and an air of excitement. Now, I’m curious what it will be like when I reach the capital, the big city, where people are a little colder, pessimistic, jealous, having seen it all, and had everything at the tips of their fingers. How will I be received? Only time will tell, and I’ll find out very soon.
The show is almost done. I don’t have a clue how to feel. I should be happy and upbeat… but I’m just tired.