The bus turned off the highway and a building suddenly appeared, which seemed unbelievable in the midst of Lori’s nature. Attractive, a little unusual and all around kind of crazy. It was even difficult to take in at once. For a second I thought my brain was just imagining it. In the foreground was the COAF Smart Center with modern architecture. We were in the Debet community. “If you want to inspire people, especially young people, you have to build something that will have a unique impact.” This was what was said about the center.
The COAF Smart Center doesn’t just teach young people but also instills the values of education and self-improvement. About 1,500 people have benefited from the opportunities the Center has provided over the past year, since people themselves make up the present and future of rural communities in Armenia. Here, there are rooms designed for each field of study, which are equipped with technologies specific to the field.
The COAF Smart Center is for more than simply getting an education. Here students will also create unforgettable memories. The center features an exclusive guesthouse, designed for invited guests and tourists. The four core pillars of the Smart Center concept are innovation and creativity, language and communication, entrepreneurship and local economic development, as well as active citizenship and personal development. The center completely changes the lives of rural communities, enabling them to discover their talents and develop in an innovative way.
We are still in Tumanyan’s Dsegh. In nature and the Visitors Center is where the Armenian presents its beauty. You can’t even begin to imagine the diversity of the beautiful and very important species of animal and plant species of our environment until you come to this center.
This is a place where children can get an education, learn about animals and birds, and where tourists can take advantage of a range of services like hiking along the paths that have been designed in collaboration with the Dsegh center to see important places of interest for nature and culture.
I learned that there are 452 plant species and 308 animal species in the Red Book of Armenia. Compared with the previous Red Book, there are new types of plants and animals, the number of which has increased. This also means the number of those that are under threat of extinction has also increased. When making the new book, plants and animals have been evaluated according to international standards.
We were expecting a short walk to the Bardzrakash St. Grigor Monastery. On the way to the monastery we encountered broken and moss-covered cross-stones, which gave a mysterious mood to the area.
On the way to the monastery, you will find Grikor’s fountain. The place was referenced in the famous work from Hovhannes Tumanyan: “Gikor”. Hambo takes Gikor, the twelve-year-old to town, to work and have a future, but his mother was against it, but Hambo was determined … As time went by, Hambo had buried Gikor and was returning home. Under his arm, he carried his clothes, so that his mother could cry over them. In one of his pockets they had found a handful of shiny buttons, bits of coloured paper, pieces of material and a few safety-pins. He had evidently collected and kept these for his sister Zanny.
Hambo walked on deep in thought. It was not so long since he had gone to the town with Gikor along that same road. Here was the place he had said, “Dad, my feet are sore.” And there was the tree under which they had stopped for a rest…. There was the place he had said, “Dad, I’m thirsty….” And there was the fountain from which they had drunk.
Now Bardakash St. Grigor Monastery is in a state of ruin, the walls are tilted to different sides. The reason for the collapse is that the site of the monastery has a sediment. The ruined church is rich with sculptures that have stories of their own.
The tour was followed by the “TUK” camping base, which provides a variety of tourism related services. By the way, some of the profit goes to the solution of community issues. So by using the services here you can contribute to the improvement of rural communities. If you love to spend unique time away from the noise and summer heat, this is one of the best options.
Every Saturday and Sunday “TUK” offers hiking, biking, fishing, tours of the Dsegh historical-cultural sights, and hosts outdoor events. Many students come here as a class from different parts of Armenia.
After lunch in “TUK”, we had one last look at the unreal nature of Lori. At 16:00 we were in Aragatsotn, Rya Taza village, where we the tastiest cheese and a meeting with one of the oldest people of the world – Yezidis awaited us. Ahmed Broyan was a 60-year-old man of great health who patiently responded to all the questions that our curiosity could drum up.
First, we learned that Yezidis are divided into three main groups: shegh, pyre, myrit. It was interesting to know that during the Yezidis wedding ritual, the branch of a decorated tree is presented by the best man, and the groom takes three red apples in his hand and uses them to strike the head of his bride who stands below. Their traditional dishes are mostly lamb. They are sunbathers and are very grateful for the sun, because if the sun does not exist, nothing will happen. The Yezidis would not survive without the preservation of their traditions. It was time to sample some of the cheese.
In the end, the man asked if I was married and I said no. He “Stay, we’ll marry you off.” I smiled and a number of images came to mind: wedding, tradition, apple, head, mountains, farming, plenty of children, traditions, more apples being thrown at my head. I tried to justify my hesitation. “I don’t know how to milk cows.” He smiled quietly, “There’s no need, there’s a worker who does that. I held my breath, gulped, and rushed to the bus.
Visit to Amberd, Yeganians’ Gastro Yard and Byurakan Observatory.
Standing in front of Amberd, a powerful castle, today is like standing before a slender and unlucky old man whose age is what holds him back. I walked to the castle. The presence of the tired and wounded old man grew on me.
My ear heard the excitement in the background, but during that time I was indifferent to my surroundings. There was a sense of surprise mixed with confusion and fear … The future of the castle is uncertain. As a fortress, Amberd was particularly famous during the Roman era and after the birth of Christ when it was built, with subsequent expansion and periodic renovation.
Some sources say that the castle and some parts of the wall were built in the 7th century during the reign of Kamsarak. It was the summer residence of Armenian kings and princes. We can only assume that the castle had a rich ornament, with vivid evidence of the finds discovered during excavations.
The Yeganian family had been waiting for us for a long time, and the tradition of winemaking has been passed down from generation to generation. Everything is homemade at the Yeganians Gastro Yard, where tourists can participate in the preparation of a variety of dried fruits, sweet sauces, lavash. You can also take part in the harvest.
I was one of those guests who enjoyed someone else’s cooking, and if you’re like me, and if you enjoy sweets as much as I do then the Gastro Yard is for you. While I was enjoying sweet desserts, the gang took part in the wine tasting and watched the vodka distillation process. I think I overdosed on sweets that day.
Astronomy is a science about the universe, celestial bodies, and phenomena related to them. Of course, to understand all this, requires some time. However, I’m always happy to think of astronomy as something that is both real and unreal and undeniably beautiful.
I think at least once you have to visit an observatory and discover “your own theory” about astronomy. It is a window into space, revelation of power, perception of beauty and a new beginning of imagination.
10 minutes from the hotel’s distant corridor and room. I lay in bed, silently looking out of the window. In my mind I separated from the hotel room and found myself on the slope of the mountain, where it was tranquil, quiet and carefree …. It was quietly looking at the “person” who was about to create the whole story.
The material was prepared within the framework of the “From the Mountains to the Villages” info-tour through the support of the Tourism Committee of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ).