Today we drove south to the region where our pilot is to take place. We set off in the UNICEF Landcruiser, with the UNICEF driver and we were glad not to be driving because the first part of the journey was very foggy and the land all around was frozen white.
But after a while as we climbed higher we were in the mountains and then we saw Mount Ararat. It’s a spectacular mountain, with two peaks, covered in snow. It was amazing to think that this was the spot where the ark grounded. Certainly it is very high and many mountains hereabouts are over 3,500 metres above sea level. The road wound between the mountains through some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen, Switzerland on steroids! Mountains, frozen lakes, eagles and more.
Of course we passed many Iranian trucks bringing freight between the two countries.
En route we discussed why anyone would want to leave such a beautiful country and I was reminded of Kieron Goss’ well known song ‘Reasons to Leave’ which contrasts the reasons to leave: better work and pay abroad with the reasons to stay: the music and love.
We passed Areni the wine capital of Armenia and I was promised a stop for sampling on the way back.
We arrived at Goris to see the special school that is slated for transformation. You can probably guess that most people there are not keen on transformation at all because they think it will mean losing their jobs. This is a school for ‘special needs’ children but there are no children there with special needs, but plenty with social problems at home.
We then visited a day care centre and we met a lady working hard to provide care for 90 children with all kinds of disabilities, most of them going to ordinary schools but some out of school altogether. Our team all felt that we had entered a world where things are turned upside down and are not at all as they seem.
Finally we met the man in charge of social benefits who expressed all the cynicism of the man in the regions who has seen all these new fangled ideas from the capital come and go.
We then went for dinner in a restaurant where we were the only customers overlooking the most amazing rock formations, I have seen pictures of these rocks which I thought were from ancient Cappadocia, maybe this is the place. Rocks in cylinder chimney formations with many caves; fascinating.
We had a good meal with trout, chicken, cheese, bread and wine. Then back to the B&B which is rather special. We have been promised local yoghurt, bread, cheese and jams for breakfast, then its off to Kapan, the regional capital to get more information.
And finally we are here in the footsteps of the President who is seeking re-election next month.