Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Letter 17: A village named “Horse” Draft needs editing

You must have heard of the silk road. You must also remember that it goes through Armenia, and that Kirk Krikorian’s Lincy foundation has just completed the segment from Yeghegnadzor (where I call from these days) to Martuni (on Lake Sevan). The official opening of this segment was accomplished with the presence of the benefactor and Armenia’s President. It is abeautiful road that goes through some of the best scenery anywhere in the world. Marco Polo had gone through here on his way to meeting the Great Koublay Khan and he described the poor and primitive conditions of the Armenians living there. The Mongols had appropriated the best lands and local Armenians were indeed living in very poor and primitive conditions. They still are. Most people barter their products and quite a few have never seen a 5000 dram ($ 10) banknote. But the spirit and hospitality are there, and the natural beauty is untouched.

If you have seen Martiros Saryan’s 1923 painting entitled “Armenia” (now at the National Gallery), you will recognize the scenery on your way to the Selim Saray pass, high up, at 2200 meters altitude. On the way there, after you pass Getap (pronounced “Get-up”) where the famous semi-dry Vernashen wine is produced and Sally where the famous Armenian goat cheese is churned, you will come to a sign pointing to a village perched on the edge of a cliff. The sign used to say “Gors” in Russian (the Russians don”t have an ‘h’ sound so the h’s are pronounced and transliterated ‘g’), but now there is a new sign in English and Armenian.



Last week, when I went to get Andrew, Sis, unlike Masis was not covered in snow, but on the way back, it’s top was white again. Today it rained in Yeghegnadzor, but the three mountain ranges surrounding us (Vardenis, Zahgezour and Nakhitchevan are now covered with snow : a sure sign winter is coming. The temperature in the house is now 17 degrees. Outside this morning, with the sun it was 15.5. It went up to 17 and then when it started raining it went down to 14, and I still don’t have the stove hooked (sounds familiar? We need to have the hot-water in the bathroom tested before we put the floor).

The sun now comes in to the edge of the kitchen door from the kitchen window and from the LR window all day. I wish we had more windows on that side..
We changed the hour last weekend, so the sun rises earlier and also it gets dark faster (7 :00 p.m.)

By the way those thin walls between the rooms, despite the inch thick plaster on both sides is not soundproof at all. I could hear the guest’s bed creaking next door.

We went with the Nabatians to the Areni wine factory. I had arranged for musicians and dance troupe. We had a fabulous time. The wine was fantastic. They seemed to think that Areni was at it’s best at 3 years, after which it went down. So we asked to try the 99, it was great, so we tried 98 it was even better. They had not kept any of the previous years!

It is wine time now here, everyone is extracting wine or oghi. I tried some of the vin nouveau from Malichka, it was so powerful! I kept some in a coke bottle, a week later when I opened the bottle I got it all over my clothes. It reminds when I used to go to Alberobello, south of Bari and buy wine by the gallo0n from the farmers, it was still bubbling! What memories! All I need is spaghetti carbonara.