We headed North to Lake Sevan. It was summer you see, so a massive lake seemed like the obvious place to head to. As usual, hitching went smoothly, and after a bit of touristy venturing around the only real touristy location on the lake (arhere’s a church on a little peninsula… That’s about it aside from the lame itself.), we went in search of… Money! We all needed to exchange some cash, so off we went…
Somehow this turned into sitting outside a small convenience store on the edge of town, also called Sevan, and drinking beer with this thick old cat that I fell in love with for a short time. Of course the locals probably thought we were insane.
Naturally this semi-drunkening turned into us looking for a train down the lake, because a train would be fun. According to my map, there was a station! So again, off we walked. I think we walked up this same main road 4 times over a couple hours.
As we arrived to a near empty station, still topped with a red star, we were informed there… Was no train. Except on Saturdays… Only on Saturdays. Yea. Alright. We were laughing at everything so we turned around and headed for the road, confusingly repeating the words “only on Saturday…” more than once.
We did reach a place to camp. We did. After following a mysterious forested road, and being massacred by mosquitoes, we found a place… For a fee. Tired, and seeing it would be hours worth of walking to another place to sleep, we grudgingly accepted. Out of spite, however, we had a fire on the beach. It wasn’t even a big fire but the next day the owner began yelling at us in Armenian and Russian. With all the garbage lying around, what was a pile of ashes? Really.
The next day was spent finding a place to have a proper swim, which on the north side was pretty easy. What ISN’T easy is escaping the horrible music that is prevalent in Greece, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia (at the very least)… It’s like this techno-sorta stuff with an overly-synthy voice over, or just some guy shouting in whatever language fits the country… It assaults the ears and I can imagine that this is what awaits me in hell.
But the point is, we had a good swim.
As our next target was now Mt. Aragats, the old Volcano near Yerevan (which we actually found out about thanks to a Canadian couple that picked us up), we decided to head back to the city for the night.
As evening approached, a trusty old Lada stopped. Perfect. Russian engineering would deliver us to a sheltered place to stay for the night… Except this car kept breaking down. But after several turns pushing it down the road, and the driver tinkering with the fuel hose, we were back in business.
Now this is where things got… Different. Our ride dropped us off 20km from Yerevan, and we were picked up by a transit van with ass-room for one of us. This meant the girls sitting on my lap and one of the Armenians’. Nothing strange. Then we were invited to dinner, because the one guy was very wealthy (he wanted us to know this). Alright.
We were transferred to a vehicle owned by his personal driver, and taken to a restaurant. Here we were served maybe three courses of food, beginning with salad, transferring to a huge platter of various meats and potatoes, and ending with an Armenian special – crayfish (they say something like “rack,” but to everyone else it’s crayfish/crawfish). It was safe to say we were all full to hurting before the crayfish came along. I mean, our daily diet was bread, cheese, tomato, cucumber, and onion.
After enough food to fill us for a few days, and enough beer to properly do us in (I was managing to still be cognizant), we wanted to just head back to our couchsurfers place. What did we do instead?
We went to a strip club, of course. Now back in the army I had gone to a few, but they were never my thing. Too loud, to expansive, and honestly the girls at these places just don’t do anything for me… But I followed the crowd.
Inside our wealthy friend had set up elaborate fruit platters for us (you know lassie multi layered good trays that you would see at fancy weddings or something?), and decanters of whiskey. Again, I sipped on mine slowly, as at least one of us should have 20/20 vision.
I think two hours passed. I am very sure that the boss had gotten every stripper in the place to crawl on top of me, literally raining down money on top of me so that I could slide it under their things. I attempted to look into it out of politeness, but it was in actuality the silliest and most awkward time I’ve had on a while. This is the type of thing an 18 year old fresh into the world might have wet dreams about, but me? A scraggly traveler man who would rather have a scruffy dog and a mountain trail to follow, than the prettiest model straddling my waist? It was another story to tell, sure, but I sure as hell felt outta place.
At the end, while our couchsurfer was telling us he was now home and we could head to his place, the entire club was dancing. The Czechs were surrounded by patrons and strippers, while I was slowly trying to inch us towards the exit. It came to us just saying sorry, thank you, and “gotta go!” a few million times while climbing into the car.
The night wound down with bad car-karaoke, singing along to Smoke on the Water and some other nonsense, and actually sleeping at one point. It’s true.
… To the Volcano!