The Silky Way Adventure
Slices of Armenia
Epilogue: Last streak of luck
Previous chapter: Dried Fruits
At the beginning of my trip with Artyom I had in mind to directly go to Iran. As far as geography is concerned it was a flawless plan, since the border itself was marking the end of the Armenian Silk Road. But after just a few encounters and adventures, I decided to delay Iran for a bit and to stay in Armenia to write down the stories of those few intense days. I knew that leaving for a new country would mean not being able to finish writing. I’d be in a completely different atmosphere but more importantly, I’d be so busy adapting to everything that I just would not have the time or be in the mindset to write. So, I said goodbye to Küç at the far end of Armenia and I let her go to Iran on her own (she narrated her adventures on her blog). I didn’t want my Armenian stories to get away from me!
Getting back to Yerevan we were once again more than lucky: it took us only three rides to get there, and we ended up virtually at Artyom’s door. The first driver was an old man who liked his country and was happily chatting with Artyom about all the places he had visited in Armenia during his holidays. He left us in Kapan. We had a last mission in that town: a friend of Artyom’s was enduring his military service there, and Artyom wanted to say hello. We only had his name and the name of the casern. It turned out at the gate, that we were supposed to have his ID number and his division. On top of that, there were visiting hours and we were naturally three hours early. Our chances to actually see Artyom’s friend and get going as soon as possible to reach Yerevan on the same day looked pretty dim. But next to the camp’s gates was a little grocery shop run by an energetic middle-aged woman who decided, after talking to me for a few minutes, that I was French-Armenian. “She has come all the way from France to visit her friend! We have to help her out!” She happened to have a few contacts inside the camp, officers and high-up people, and called them all. Within an hour, we found ourselves waiting for Tigran in a little room allegedly heated up by an amazingly inefficient stove. “Always try to have a French around” I told Artyom, “it might prove useful.” We were allowed twenty minutes with Tigran, which went swiftly by. I was quite surprised and pleased to hear Tigran speaking French very well – he could even tell jokes. That made our little involuntary lie a little more believable. We just hadn’t contradicted the woman when she thought to have figured me out. After a last hug between Artyom and his friend, and after we had given him the last apples Ophelia had stuffed into our pockets the previous day in Tatev, we went to warmly thank the little woman from the grocery-shop and tried to get back to the main road as quickly as possible.
Two friends reunited thanks to a French connection
A first short ride took us out of Kapan and left us on a foggy switchback road climbing up. The day was dull, grey and wet- proper end-of-a-great-holiday weather. Soon enough, another car stopped. Artyom asked the couple if they would take us to the next big crossroad. Certainly. We climbed inside. After a few minutes of conversation, it turned out that they were actually on their way to Yerevan, and they agreed to take us along all the way. How convenient! A few more minutes of conversation later, Artyom found out that they were not exactly going to Yerevan, no… they were going to Ashtarak, which is only precisely were Artyom lives. Such a streak of luck is sometimes hard to believe. The ride was nice but chilly. There was no heating in the car, either to save petrol or because the system was broken, and the man and his wife had big coats on. I was in a state of frozen beatitude. For a while we had to drive in a fog so thick that you couldn’t see five meters ahead. The road was still winding, and there were plenty of heavy Iranian petrol trucks to overtake. The technique consisted of the truck driver indicating we could overtake him by activating his indicator, then us frantically honkieding all the way past him until we had reachedthe front, in order to warn any car coming our way that we were in their lane. I closed my eyes to try and diminish my fear and recalled the beautiful days we were just leaving behind us.
We found the old Soviet flat colder than ever but luckily, the blankets were as thick as when we had left. From then on, I stayed in Ashtarak until I had to move to Yerevan. I made many friends, met musicians, I had a break from travelling. I was starting to have a nice little routine life of my own in Yerevan. I also met Tigran again, in a pub. He was the rock band manager who had picked us up in Dilijan. He was the only driver I had ever seen again after hitchiking – but I don’t usually go back to were I came from, and Yerevan is a small place. Tigran introduced me to almost all of the band’s members and some of them became my friends as well. My social life was getting very busy, and I was trying to keep writing as seriously as possible, all the while remembering that I was still supposed to be on my way to Iran. I extended my visa three times to give myself more time. I was never far enough in telling the story, I was never ready to go again. At the third stamp the clerk told me “it’s the last one you can get. After this, out. You understand?” I understood, and didn’t even use up all the days of the last extension. I had indeed realised that I was writing less and less, and drinking more and more – did you know that vodka-tonics can be very enjoyable drinks? I had a feeling I had to somehow get myself away from Yerevan, from Armenia, or I was going to stay there much longer than I had ever wanted to. I had already stayed in this little country almost as long as had stayed in Turkey…
That’s it. You know about everything about my Silky Way Adventure. Obviously, what I was writing in Armenia was the French version, and it took me approximately forever to get finished with the English one. But I did it! I enjoyed writing it, and I hope that a few people out there enjoyed reading it. I certainly had not planned to finish publishing it so many months after it all happened but hey, you know, Life! Let me also thank my cousin Julie for all her patient and encouraging reviewing, without which I would have been too self-conscious about my English writing to dare put anything out there. ‘Til next time, take care, folks!