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!)