Startseite
  Über...
  Archiv
  Gästebuch
  Kontakt
 


 
Links
   Georgia stories (German, some English)
   Armenia online encyclopedia
   Forgotten people in Georgia

Webnews



http://myblog.de/anja.kuriosistan

Gratis bloggen bei
myblog.de





 
Anja in Kuriosistan: travelling in Georgia and Armenia

Kuriosistan is a way of living and exploring, a place to be maybe and a dream.  This time Kuriosistan will be Georgia and Armenia - my home for the coming 4 weeks. The adventure is almost starting, the bagpack is ready and in less than 2 days I will be in Tbilissi. What now seems unreachably far and a little scary, will most probably turn out to be an exiting place with kind, hospitable people and an amazing culture. At least this is what I have heared. Now is time to go and see myself...

2.7.07 22:22


Kuriosistan ist eine Lebensart, einen Ort an dem man sein kann oder von dem man träumen kann. Dieses Mal wird Kuriosistan Georgien und Armenien sein, 4 Wochen lang mein Zuhause. Das Abenteuer beginnt schon fast, der Rucksack steht fertig gepackt und in weniger als 2 Tagen werde ich schon in Tiflis sein. Was jetzt so unerreichbar fern erscheint, wird höchstwahrscheinlich ein aufregender Ort voller gastfreundlicher Menschen und wundervoller Kultur sein. Jedenfalls ist es mir so erzählt worden. Zeit selbst nachzuschauen...
2.7.07 22:31


Arriving to Tbilisi by night

What a strange feeling to fly to an unknown place and not to know which route you take: where do all the lights belong to and when exactly are we crossing the Black Sea, if at all? Georgian language all around me and only occassionally some Russian, English or German - seems I am already into it! The warm hug of my friend's grandmother takes away my doubts and finally the enourmous breakfast today morning ensures me that I have arrived to a place of hospitable people (But why is she eating so little? - Guess, I will hear that more often in future).

Now in daylight the city truely looks amazing by what I can tell from a marshrutka trip (a minibus system - you never know where they stop). I can't wait to walk around and take closer looks, but the sun already burns rather than shines!

 

Naechtliche Ankunft in Tiflis

Es war ein seltsames Gefuehl nur den Ankunftsort, aber nicht die Flugroute zu kennen. Vergebens versuchte ich die Fluesse und spaeter Lichtpunkte von Staedten zuzuordnen. Sind wir ueberhaupt ueber das Schwarze Meer geflogen. Im Flugzeug schon hoerte ich vor allem Georgisch, nur manchmal Russisch, Englisch oder Deutsch - schon mitten im Abenteuer! Die Familie einer Freundin hat mich herzlich begruesst mitten in der Nacht und damit mein Fremdheitsgefuehl fast verschwinden lassen. Das riesige Fruestueck am spaeten Morgen hat mich dann restlos ueberzeugt, dies hier sind wirklich gastfreundliche Menschen. Dennoch fragten sie mehrmals, warum ich nur so wenig esse (Wenn sie wuessten wieviel mehr als sonst ich gegessen habe).

Bei Tageslicht haelt die Stadt, was ich an Versprechen letzte Nacht beim Durchfahren sah. Bisher habe ich nur aus dem Marschrutka-Fenster gestaunt (Marschrutka sind Minibusse und Haupttransportmittel hier). Ich kann es kaum erwarten, in der Stadt umherzulaufen und mir alles naeher anzuschauen. Doch die Sonne brennt schon richtig!

 

4.7.07 13:05


Rushing from Tbilisi to Yerevan

As soon as I got a glimpse of the rich culture gathered in Tbilisi (ancient churches in Georgian and Armenian style, a synagogue and a mosque - so much for the religious side of it), I already left for Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Why such a rush you might ask, well I wanted to attend a seminar on the National Environmental Action Plans of Georgia and Armenia. It is starting today already and will also be a preparation for my internship in Berlin (globalisation!). So, the day yesterday I basically spent in a marshrutka, travelling from capital to capital. There, starring out of the window I was reminded of how much fun and sometimes a hazzle travelling is - time seemed to have stopped somewhere in the middle of the road, especially at the border. The landscape was simply amazing, especially in the Armenian part. For example, we drove through a long valley spotted with infrastructure in a largely desparate state (lifts, hanging bridges, factories), most probably most of it still works though. It was impressive how man had attempted to conquer nature there! The Armenian highlands to the North are vast with only small settlements occassionally. Observing people living in those settlements felt like in a movie at times. 

What a contrast to be in Yerevan finally. Big city life, with hotels, banks and quite a number of fancy cars (this is only my first impression). Getting of the marshrutka yesterday evening, by chance I got a lift with the country director of WWF Armenia to the place I am staying at. What a coincidence, I will definitely try to visit the office next week, besides all the other environmental organisations I want to see.

In Windeseile von Tiflis nach Eriwan

Kaum hatte ich einen Eindruck von der reichen Kultur in Tiflis bekommen (alte Georgische und Armenische Kirchen, eine Synagoge und eine Moschee, um die kirchlichen Attraktionen zu nennen), machte ich mich auch schon auf den Weg nach Eriwan, der Hauptstadt Armeniens. Warum so eilig? Ich wollte an einem Seminar zu den Nationalen Umweltaktionsplaenen Georgiens und Armeniens teilnehmen, das schon heute beginnt und gleichzeitig eine Vorbereitung fuer mein Praktikum in Berlin ist. Daher habe ich eigentlich gestern den ganzen Tag in der Marshrutka verbracht. Die Fahrt erinnerte mich daran, wie schoen Reisen sein kann, doch manchmal natuerlich auch anstrengend. Irgendwo unterwegs schien die Zeit stehengeblieben zu sein, gerade an der Grenze. Die vorbeiziehende Landschaft war beeindruckend, vor allem in Armenien. Wir fuhren zum Beispiel durch ein tiefes Tal, das voller desolater Infrastruktur war (Aufzuege, Haengebruecken, Fabriken), die dennoch noch zu funktionieren schien. Beeindruckend, wie die Leute da versucht hatten, die Natur unter Kontrolle zu bringen. Das Armenische Hochland im Norden dann streckte sich endlos, teilweise Sumpflandschaft und vereinzelt Ortschaften. Die Leute da durchs Fenster zu beobachten fuehlte sich an wie in einem Film.

Welch ein Kontrast dann Eriwan zu sein. Mein erster Eindruck der Grossstadt sind die Hotels, Banken und die betraechtliche Anzahl schicker Autos. Durch einen gluecklichen Zufall traf ich gestern den Landeschef von WWF Armenien, der mich von der Busstation zu meiner Unterkunft fuhr. Ich werde auf jeden Fall versuchen, naechste Woche das WWF Buero zu besuchen sowie einige andere Umweltorganisationen.

6.7.07 08:21


Getting to know Yerevan + Armenia

After days of silence I can assure you that I am doing fine in Yerevan, spending my time eating and getting to know this culture. I have to admit that despite knowing something about the Armenian culture, I am so impressed by these people and their culture! At the moment I enjoy most listening to people and just looking around and around. Just yesterday I went on a short trip by marshrutka and hitchhiking with an Armenian and a Belgian guy to visit a monastery from old times that is partly built in the rocks as well as the only remaining pagan temple in the former Soviet Union. Religion was always very important to the Armenian people and has probably helped them surviving several times therefore I just can’t get around those places. Actually, both Georgia and Armenia are famous for their church architecture. Geghard church for example consists of several cave chambers that were carved by one man throughout his life into the rocks (13th century). Inside they are mostly black from the candles, but through a small opening at the top some light enters. Then animals, crosses and different patterns can be seen, symbolizing different legends and stories. Above all the church is surrounded by impressive green mountains and you have a great sight into the valley (for picture click "Linktext" below)

There are many old monastries and churches to be seen in Armenia and I am planning to do more trips outside Yerevan to visit some. But finally today I discovered the city as such a bit. The city center is surprisingly small and I could walk around all the time, if only it wasn't so hot (longing to swim in a lake!). Of course, you can find many fancy chain stores and hotels (no names!) here as well, but luckily there's also the other side of Yerevan, more unique. For example, I explored a big covered market today (people feeding me again that I would buy something), there's the so-called Blue Mosque, which I will enter if the guard lets me and I went to the museum of Sergej Parajanov, who is a famous director and artist in the former Soviet Union countries. Honestly, I didn't know about him before, but his art (and films) is very colourful and imaginery. He must have spent a lot of time on flea markets, collecting all kinds of tradional items and putting them together in very creative ways. His 4 most known films each depict different cultures, such as Georgia, Armenia, Aserbaidschan and Iran (himself being Armenian, but having lived in Georgia and Ukraine). I decided to bring a film called "The shadow of forgotten ancestors" and I am happy to share it with you! By the way, currently there's an international fim festival going on in Yerevan and I hope to see 1-2 films of directors from the region!



Eriwan und Armenien kennen lernen

Nach einigen Tagen Stillschweigen kann ich Euch versichern, dass es mir gutgeht. Ich verbringe meine Zeit damit, zu essen und die armenische Kultur kennenzulernen. Obwohl ich einige Dinge ueber Armenien wusste, bin ich ganz einfach beeindruckt von den Menschen und ihrer Kultur hier. Momentan geniesse ich es am meisten, den Leuten hier zuzuhoeren und mich umzusehen. Gestern zum Beispiel war ich mit einem Armenier und einem Belgier per Marschrutka und Trampen unterwegs, um eine Felskirche aus dem 13. Jahrhundert sowie den einzig noch erhaltenen heidnischen Tempel in der ehemaligen Sowjetunion zu sehen. Da Religion immer sehr wichtig war fuer das Armenische Volk und wahrscheinlich zu dessen Ueberleben beigetragen hat, komme ich einfach nicht umhin, mir diese Orte anzuschauen. Sowohl Armenien, als auch Georgien sind beruehmt fuer ihre Kirchenarchitektur. Das Kloster Geghard gestern zum Beispiel ist teilweise in den Fels hineingebaut. Man sagt, dass die Felsenkammern fuer Andachten im 13. Jhd. von einem Mann in den Fels gehauen wurden, der sein ganzes Leben lang daran gearbeitet hat. Diese sind fast schwarz von Russ der Kerzen, doch haben alle eine kleine Oeffnung oben, so dass Tageslicht hereinfallen kann. Dann kann man Tierfiguren, Kreuze und andere Muster erkennen, die alle Legenden und Geschichten symbolisieren. Die Kirche selbst befindet sich in einer herrlichen Lage, umgeben von bewaldeten Bergen und mit Blick auf ein grosses Flusstal. Ich werde versuchen, noch mehr dieser alten Kirchen in Armenien zu besuchen (fuer Fotos geht auf "Linktext" unten).

Doch heute hatte ich endlich mal die Gelegenheit Eriwan ein wenig kennenzulernen. Das Stadtzentrum ist ueberraschend klein und ich koennte eigentlich die ganze Zeit umherlaufen, wenn es bloss nicht so heiss waere (ach ein See waer' schoen!). Klar, kann man hier auch all die internationalen Ketten und Hotels finden, doch zum Glueck gibt es auch noch die andere Seite Eriwans, die viel einzigartiger ist. Heute habe ich zum Beispiel einen ueberdachten Markt besucht (wo die Leute mich schon wieder gefuettert haben, in der Hoffnung, dass ich etwas kaufen werde), die "Blaue Moschee", die ich besuchen werde, wenn der Mensch am Eingang mich laesst sowie das Sergej Parajanov Museum, ein Regisseur und Kuenstler, der vor allem in der GUS bekannt ist. Ich kannte ihn vorher nicht, doch seine Werke (und Filme) sind sehr bunt und mit viel Phantasie gestaltet. Er muss oft auf Flohmaerkten unterwegs gewesen sein, um da alle moeglichen volkstuemlichen Dinge zu sammeln und sie in kreativer Weise neu zusammenzusetzen. Seine 4 bekanntesten Filme spielen alle in einer anderen Kultur (Georgien, Armenien, Aserbaidschan und Iran) waehrend er selbst als Armenier in Georgien und der Ukraine gelebt hat. Ich bringe einen seiner Filme mit und zeige Euch ihn gern. Hier findet uebrigens gerade ein internationales Filmfestival statt und hoffentlich kann ich da auch noch 1-2 Filme von Regisseuren aus der Region sehen.


 

Linktext

10.7.07 17:13


Friday 13 - a lucky day of course

Finally it's evening and it's possible to walk around outside. I felt like in an oven today, grilled alive - 35 degrees and probably more in the sun. It's impossible to keep my normal speed!

Well, that's for the weather news here's something more serious: I've seen so many films during the last 3 days; the Film Festival was a good reason to stay in Yerevan (Golden Apricot International Film Festival Yerevan). Out of the films, two were especially touching, as they gave me a much better understanding of the Armenian history. Both the genocide of Armenian people by the Turkish in 1915 and the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict over a mountains area between Armenia and Azerbaidshan are high-level issues that most people I spoke to mentioned to me. Spending a week so far in this beautiful country really has opened my eyes for some of the issues over here, something that usually feels distant when I am just reading about it. The film called "Screamers" by Carla Garpedian (see link below) focuses on the Armenian genocide from the perspective of the band "System of a Down" whose members are all grandchildren of genocide survivors living in the US. Their mission is to raise awareness of and achieve recognition of the genocides we know of. The Armenian genocide is thereby considered the first genocide in modern times, but of course at that time it wasn't called this way, as the term itself was invented later and until today politicians are reluctant to name a mass slaughter of people by this name as this would require action. So the film focuses on the Armenian genocide but is a human rights statement for all victims of the genocides of the 20th/21st century - trying to explain how genocides happen and how political systems react to them carefully maneuvring their interests. It's a very strong film, especially through the music of System of a Down and the interviews conducted with survivors of the Armenian genocide. In my opinion, the strong focus on the latter makes the film a bit weak regarding genocides, but the message is absolutely touching!

Equally touching was the film called "A story of people in war and peace" by Vardan Hovhannisyan, tracking Armenian people who fought in the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict in the beginning of the 1990s (great footage material). 10 years later the director tries to find the same people and concludes that both in war and peace in this region people struggle, albeit differently. I have to admit that I feel a strong sympathy for the Armenian people, but nevertheless I also feel the need to talk to friends from Turkey and Azerbaidshan to be able to listen to other perspectives as well.

I'll be leaving on a 2-day monastry-mountain trip in the North of Armenia tomorrow with the same successful hitchhiking team as recently Talk to you soon!

Linktext Screamers
13.7.07 18:55


Plans are only good for being changed

Can you imagine that it actually rained here in Yerevan? While I walked around in a kind of rain forest in the North of Armenia, it even was significantly colder and wet in Yerevan when I came back. Maybe it is all connected to the water-pouring festival (Vardavar) they celebrated yesterday. This festival is a pagan tradition remaining and adapted to the Armenian christian culture, it means that the whole day people are allowed to pour water on each other to supposedly clean themselves and show good will (of course in the most dramatic and surprising way). In former times people thus worshipped the godness for love and beauty - Astghik. The biggest celebration takes place every year at the pagan temple of Garni, that I mentioned before.

Well, nobody poured water over me, but we got wet by just simply walking through a thick forest where the supposed-to-be-trail was completely overgrown and made us giving up at some point. Instead of a two-day trip we only hit the road yesterday, but had some crazy and wonderful hitchhiking experiences! This time being Armenian, Polish, Belgian and German we had a lot of fun visiting the Haghartsin (see link with pictures below) monastry and Lake Sevan (the largest lake in the Caucasus). Up there in the North is was really foggy and sometimes rainy, what a nice change compared to the days in Yerevan, where I was sweating from not doing anything! We made our way to the monastry by hitchhiking in groups of 2 and occassionally meeting up. This is how it happened that Fons and me also hitched horses, to the amusement of everybody else passing by (Later: Oh, are you the guys coming on horses?). The monastry is beautifully situated in a green hilly landscape, it's actually a whole complex of churches, chapels and other space for monks and monk candidates. Parts of it date back to the 7th and 10th century!! Many of the old stones are overgrown by moss and flowers which gives it a really romantic and long-ago touch.

On our way back to Yerevan we were planning to stop at Lake Sevan to have a swim, but unfortunately it was raining so heavily that we only stopped to have hot tea and Lake Sevan fish. Only the Armenian guy jumped into the water, commented by the waiter with: Is his head not working right?. The funniest part was when we got onto this old red bus to get back to Yerevan, it was full of young people coming from a picnic at the lack, stank from barbecue meat and beer and didn't work for long. Quickly they involved us into talks (even in English after some more beer) and started dancing risking to fall anytime. We had to push the bus twice to make it running again (of course it was still raining), and ended up somewhere outside Yerevan, as they had to take more alcohol and probably arrived to the city in the early morning hours

So much about changing plans. Due to that I actually had the chance to attend a workshop on the European Neighbourhood Programme organized by WWF Armenia (luckily they switched from Armenian to Russian for me which was still challenging enough) and I just met with a lady from Transparency International Armenia. Have to go and see another environmental NGO now, but hopefully I'll find time to translate parts of that into German (I promised!)

 

 

 

Linktext Haghartsin
16.7.07 13:30


 [eine Seite weiter]



Verantwortlich für die Inhalte ist der Autor. Dein kostenloses Blog bei myblog.de! Datenschutzerklärung
Werbung