Berkaber: The Story of NanSon Guesthouse
It was 7:45 am when I headed from Yerevan to the border village of Berkaber. After 3 hours I was standing at the entrance of the only guesthouse in the village NanSon.
I was met by Mrs Sonya who had a lovely feminine, bright face, and by a middle-aged woman who was the owner of the establishment that shortly followed. “You must be hungry, let’s go to the kitchen.” And in a few minutes, the breakfast table was already set. She made tea with a mother’s care and affection, butter and honey on bread, then turned to me and said, “You have to eat, you’ve just had a long journey.”
After all this, I didn’t even get the chance to say that I usually don’t have breakfast, so I silently partook of the meal. While I had breakfast, Mrs Sonya told me that NanSon’s guesthouse was opened a few days ago, and the name was an abbreviation of her two grandchildren. I had an interesting feeling as if I had been here before. I felt completely comfortable and familiar.
Mrs. Sonya is from the village of Khashtarak, and to the question of how she arrived in Berkaber, she answered that her husband was a friend of brother’s from their days in the army. The village of Khashtarak was very high in its position and elevation, the roads were not very good, and they had even thought of getting married in a place where all the houses would be on one level. And Berkaber attracted Mrs Sonya at once. “It was very fruitful indeed. Previously, crops were exported from this village. The village wanted for nothing. Every crop you could possibly think of existing.”
*The village name Berkaber in translation means “fruitful.”
She talked about the difficulties of living in a border village that honestly were many and which were overcome with courage and fortitude. “I have never been able to leave the village. I’ve lived in Russia, but the longing of the village suffocated me. I missed everything here: nature, animals, people.”
Mrs Sonya raised two good boys in the village, whose connection with the village is still strong. As she said, “The village is small and its inhabitants are generous and hospitable. We are like one big family.”
We continued to talk about the guesthouse. It turned out that they always had guests. It’s a hospitable family and welcoming place to be. “We have always been respectful to our guests, strangers or foreigners.”
And when the village was in a state of war and the number of guests was down, they thought the problem was in their own family.
Mrs. Sonya wakes up early in the morning, paces about in her yard, admires her vineyard, enjoys her coffee in the clean air, has breakfast and goes to work.
In the village, she is not only known for her hospitability and generosity, but also for her sewing. Tailor Sonya cares for her guests with the same affection as she gives to the alterations that she does with the clothes of the villagers.
She learned to sew from grandmother, while never thinking she would actually take it up because she had a dream at a young age to attend Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, but every point plays a role. To rid herself of negative thoughts, before the start of the following year’s application process, she began to sew, but the fate had something else planned. Today, Mrs Sonya makes Armenian clothing in the border village of Berkaber, which is well-known not only in Berkaber but also outside Armenia.
In the previous article, I talked about the fact that this village of 500 people has unique initiatives such as smoked fish, organic dried fruits, lemon greenhouses, and honey exports to other countries. So far the village is not satisfied and other new ideas are successfully being implemented.
At the end of the first day, I returned home. The stories continued across an abundant table, and the burden on my throat only one thing – I loved the people here.
Delicious and healthy food, a comfortable bedroom, and a family atmosphere. It was interesting to learn the story of the Khudaverdian family. I think anyone who meets this family will unanimously agree, and whoever doesn’t, should.
Translator Alice Ananian
The material was prepared with the support of Berkaber NGO.