Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Vorotan valley, near Dak Jour

The Armenian winter is serious, especially up over 6000 feet. Last week we thought spring was here, and on the weekend we got 8 inches of new snow. Though I haven't written all winter, life here has not been devoid of fun and excitement. I made a noteworthy trip to Syunik Marz, and toured the south - Goris, Sisian, with the Vorotan Valley as the jewel of the trip. Dak Jour ("hot water") is a small series of caves right by the Vorotan river where over millions of years minerals leaking out of the cliff walls formed huge sediment walls which met and formed a natural bridge over the river. The caves are underneath this "Devil's Bridge" and they leak calcium-rich warm water from the ceilings.
cave entrance
My buddy Sean lives in a tiny village on the side of the Vorotan gorge, and we did some great hiking just after Christmas when I was down there. Above is an old fortress we first spied from across the valley, with large underground rooms in varying states of disrepair. Below is Tatev University, down by the river, a 14th century monastery and Armenian center of higher learning.

The pictures below are just outside the city of Goris, in the center of Syunik Marz, near Karabagh. I am always amazed at the beauty and beautiful location of Armenian graveyards ("gerezmanots"). The rock formations are really cool in this region.

I also took a trip up to Berd, up in the northeast, on the border of Azerbaijan, to visit Kevin and Heather. Another beautiful, remote area in this small country.

I didn't tell about this, but I adopted a puppy and lost her after just a few weeks. It felt strange to be keeping an animal indoors all the time, so I started letting the little lady out to play with the neighborhood kids, and one day I guess they let her run away after some passersby. We searched all over the neighborhood, but haven't seen her since. She knew her way home, and when we walked guys would stop their cars and ask me to give her to them, so I figure someone picked her up and took her home. The pup had tufts of fur on both sides of her muzzle which looked like a Fu Manchu mustache, so we called her Shoon Manchu ("shoon" is "dog"). There she is below with Sevan, Meg and Jerry's dog.
As for work, we are gearing up again for summer, with Green Camps and other camps and hopefully some relaxation time too (unlike last summer!) Myself and a bunch of friends are planning a trip to Georgia in late April, should be a blast, and a frisbee weekend here in Martuni in May. We just had site presentations for Green Camps, and we have some good involvement and possibilities. Now we are searching for funding, which is tough in Armenia this year due to the crisis. Camps will start in June!

Best to all, much love,