Armenia Dispatch 13: Road Trip 1

Not long after leaving Yerevan, we were in the open country. Man, was
it beautiful. The golden hills stretched off as far as the eye could see. It was like Montana or Utah, gaping wide-open
land that lifted your spirits and brought forth all sorts of superlatives from our merry group. “Amazing,” Dork said.
“Gorgeous,” said Mhaer. “(something in Armenian I didn’t understand)”, said our driver. “Watch out!” I screamed.

Yes, there appear to be few limits to the speed at which one can travel in Armenia, and that is fine when you are
are cruising along the country’s uninhabited stretches (of which there are many), but in this case, we happened upon a
massive gathering of meat and wool sellers  (shepherds, is the technical term, I believe) who seemed to have
little regard for our desire to travel quickly along the road. So what the heck, we stopped to say hello.

Here is a photo of one of the guys we stopped and
talked to. There were men young and old (no women, though), and lots of sheep and cows. The men, said our driver, were
Yesdis, a distinct ethnic group in Armenia.

The air was redolent with, well, animal smells. But the whole scene was quite an eye-full, with all these guys
gathered here in the middle of nowhere, all of them very rough-looking and weathered, but all quite friendly and eage
to have their pictures taken. Mhaer, smartly, brought along an old Polaroid camera, so he could take pictures to people
to give them. One guy, a wizened old sheep herder, saw the photo Mhaer took of him and gave us a look that was like,
“Uh, yeah, that’s pretty nice. I get mine done by”

Anyway, you gotta like stops like this. They are what travel is all about.