Young Sweet Grapes and Big Old Rocks…

Armenia’s south-eastern region is home to a sleepy town called Goris. I am here with Sveta, a Russian friend of mine. Goris is as quaint as a village can get. Its main street boasts a small café, a wood-fired lavash bakery, a church (of course…), giggling kids and old men playing backgammon. Upon our arrival the town is shrouded in a dense evening fog, which soon turns to a light mist that hangs in the air. A delicate aroma of ripe fruit hovers around: it is the smell of white muscat grapes grown nearby. The soil here is fertile, and we’ve arrived during the grape harvest. Farmers set up small stands on the roads around Goris, selling clusters of plump grapes, heaps of colorful vegetables and soda bottles filled with their home-made wine…

Grapes in Goris

The next morning we set out for a site called “Karahundj”, translating to “rock-breathe”. Our driver’s old Lada grumbles its way through the small dirt roads, taking us deep into the countryside south of Goris. We soon arrive at a hilltop, kicking up clouds of dust as we skid to a halt. As the haze dissipates, a majestic scenery emerges: a breathtaking collection of huge basalt rocks-over 200 in total-all elaborately arranged in a clearing just ahead.

Karahundj Stones

Karahundj Stones

The rocks are covered with faded shades of asparagus-green, white, and sepia-colored moss. The site dates back to 2,000BC and houses remains of ancient tombs. Researchers have not yet figured out exactly how or why these stones, some weighing over 10 tons, were brought here.

Constellation Viewing Hole...

Constellation Viewing Hole...

Some of the larger rocks have holes near their top edges. They were most likely used for astronomical observations because the openings act as viewfinders that help locate constellations. It is believed that one of the largest rocks at the site aligns with the constellation Orion on August 11th of every year, marking the first day of the grape harvest here…

Just as I am about to leave, two shepherds emerge with their herd of braying sheep. Their names are Samvel and Vartan, and they obligingly pose for a photo. I imagine their ancestors trekking through these lands for thousands of years, travelling by these same stones on their journeys past…suddenly the gentle breeze turns into a fierce gust. The wind sweeps through the golden valleys around us, whisking the brush into a symphony of hushed whispers. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and let the smell of damp hay overwhelm my senses…

Vartan and Samvel, Sheep Herders

Vartan and Samvel, Sheep Herders

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5 Responses to Young Sweet Grapes and Big Old Rocks…

  1. Cathy Keys says:

    wow – great writing – am enjoying the blog – it’s informative, imaginative and not too long so it’s easy to read – now we just need to see a photo of YOU!

    Cathy

  2. Ruzzza says:

    Hey man, well-done, i like all 3 of them !!! :)
    what i especially like is that the story finishes but doesn’t end… they seem to be endless with senses, flashes, humour, feelings, thoughts, impressions…
    looking forward to the future ones coming ! :)

  3. Courage says:

    I can’t like it more Monsieur Vanick. Big ups ;)

  4. Gasolina says:

    Monsieur Vanick! Tu me manque à San Francisco!
    I just read the 3 posts! I am amazed with the constellation holes in the rocks! And the photo in the bakery Yerevan has no price, it is my favorite.
    I see that you are doing well, I am writing you an email with SF updates.
    take care amic!

  5. emine says:

    when I look at Yeravan bakery photo, I saw that Nakhchivan and Yerevan breads are exactly the same type!

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