The Walk to Ayrk

The last few weeks have been busy ones full of travel. So when I was invited to go meet up with friends and Georgia PCVs nearby, I had to decline. I was exhausted of people. Instead, I opted for a weekend in Vardenis.

Vardenis is surrounded by mountains, but I’ve only ventured into them once, last fall. I decided that it was high time to do some more exploring. But since we’re covered in pretty deep snow, hiking into the mountains isn’t a great option. Instead, Aga and I hiked to a remote village.

There are 37 villages under Vardenis’s jurisdiction. A lot of them are pretty spread out and not within walking distance. Many were Azeri villages that were landing points for Armenian refugees from Baku.

Yesterday we set out under sunny skies along a lightly driven road south of town. We were soon enveloped in the serene silence of snow covered fields and mountains. The excitement of discovery and newness was palpable. After almost an hour of walking, we crunched around a hill and saw the village for the first time.

The weather changed drastically on the other side of the hills. The sun went away for good and the wind picked up. The road was covered with drift snow. I couldn’t help but think of the book, “The Giver”, where the boy keeps walking down a road out of town, drifting further and further from civilization, while the weather changes from sterile to arctic.

Aga en route to Ayrk

Buildings on the horizon seemed to stay in place no matter how long we walked. After 30 more minutes, a lone taxi came up from behind and stopped. The people inside beckoned for us to sit. But we declined, as the place was seemingly within our grasp now.

We finally arrived at the edge of the village. There was little sign of life. Many of the houses had no smoke coming out of the chimneys. They appeared abandoned. Then, we saw clothes on a clothesline, a dog barking, and a couple of silhouettes walking behind us against the gray sky. We continued on in to the middle of the village, where we could see a dark school building and a 2 story building with a tattered Armenian flag.

Many buildings were in a state of disrepair

The second building was the mayor’s office, where we stopped for a snack and a windbreak. As we sat on the stone porch, we glimpsed a couple villagers hauling hay or tending to animals. It seemed like a sad, quiet place. I kept thinking about how isolated it was, nestled into the mountains that create the Armenian border. Most of these people have probably never seen Yerevan, or maybe even Vardenis. We both agreed that it would be really hard to live in such a place. With that, it was time to say goodbye to this mysterious and sleepy place and make the 2 hour journey home.

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4 Responses to “The Walk to Ayrk”

  1. Kelsey Says:

    You totally need a balaclava like mom and dad got me for skiing!! It goes over your head and face and is warm and fleecy no matter how harsh the wind. At the top of the mountain where the winds and temperature are harshest, I always think of you 🙂

    Also, I pulled a Kevin on my skis the other day. Accidentally ended up in the back bowls and wiped out, losing both my skis on what felt like a 45 degree angle haha. It’s so hard to get those suckers back on!! I was smiling thinking of our ski trip!!

    Miss you!!

  2. icenugget Says:

    Kelsey, I’m sorry. As we are siblings, our genetic makeup is closer than any other human beings. Thus you will probably have to endure moments of “Kevinisms” throughout your life…unfortunately it reared its head for you on the slopes! But for some reason I think your wipe out was probably way more graceful and dignified than my instant and complete wipeout immediately upon entering a blue run. 😉

    • Kelsey Says:

      Nope, not even a little graceful. Full Kevin-esque wipeout 5 feet into the run…and also off the lift 🙂 we are even more alike than I previously suspected!

  3. The Walk to Ayrk: Round 2 « IceNugget's Blog Says:

    […] a year and a half ago we made a frigid trek to an isolated village. I always wondered if the village was really as sad in the summer as it was […]

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