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Armenia 2017 (The Debed canyon and the Dopa valley)

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It would be unfair to utter an opinion on this or any other place after just a short stay, so what I am going to say is basically my inner feeling about the place.
A friend that had already visited Armenia once told me, when I asked her to describe the land in a concise few words: God forgotten.
Indeed, there are only a handful of countries with their history laced with tragedy and destruction, poverty, genocide, as inextricably as Armenia.
Once you set foot in Armenia, meters away from the state-of-the-art Georgian/Armenian frontier, you realise you have just made a leap behind in time. Roads get bumpy, shops disappear, the cars are different, the people as well. Soviet industry still pollutes an otherwise pristine, beautiful nature and you realise God may not be so fair, and a little forgetful, in the end.
Armenia, a land-locked country, maintains good relations mainly with Georgia, their only real escape route to the West, especially since after the Nagorno-Karabakh war (over a basically Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan) the frontier with Azerbaijan is closed. Relations with Iran are good, but no one wants to go there, as for relations with Turkey, there are none, and you probably know why. Between 1915 and 1922 around 1,5 million Ottoman Armenians were murdered or left to die in the Syrian Desert.
And despite maintaining good relations with both Russia and America, the country struggles to survive.
As I looked at the villages and scenery, under an amazing sun and heat, I couldn’t help thinking how winters must look like here, when temperature drops well below 0 degrees.
And yet, I somehow left with the feeling I have to return.
Some of the most important monasteries in Armenia are in the Dopa valley, whose other main feature is a huge canyon. Travelling is not easy, but the views are breath-taking. In some cases literally, when it comes to Soviet copper extracting industries that reduce the lifespan of locals to war levels… I would say the only way to visit is by car. Beware of bumps, as well of the fact that Armenian police does control the roads and you may have to settle your bribe on the spot if stopped. Be especially cautious around touristic places.
Enjoy your visit!