Friday, 9 December 2011

The Alphabetical Tourist: Armenia

This exercise is showing up my shocking lack of geographical knowledge.  Today's country is yet another where the facts that I've accumulated about it over the years pretty much amounts to diddly squat.    So, I was unaware that this is the nation which is home to the Ararat massif. Somewhere around here Noah, his family and pairs of koalas, meerkats, amoebae and indeed all the animals in the world came to teeter in the ark on the top of a craggy summit.  Mount Ararat itself, historically was part of the country but was at sometime in the past usurped by Turkey.

Let's stick with religion for the moment.  It's not often that I come across one I haven't heard of in the developed world.   It didn't surprise me that the main faith here is a form of Christian Orthodoxy but the Kurds in the western region practise Yazidism. It seems a highly sensible system that puts forward the view that we are free to choose between the  good and evil exist in our minds and spirits.  They are devoted to Tawuse Melek, the Peacock god, who was asked to perform this 'ip dip sky blue' process by God (note that this is spelt with a capital G) and decided in favour of being good.

The geographical area of Armenia has undergone some change historically.  It's had a bit of coastline in the past but now its landlocked although there is a group of musicians called the Armenian Navy Band who might dispute this!  It's a good job for water lovers that the country is the site of Lake Sevan, one of the largest high altitude expanses of water in the world situated at a height of about 1900m but get there quick.  Ninety per cent of its water evaporates rather than dribbles downwards to make a river.

Around its shores are a number of beaches that seem to have the trappings of many resorts, swimming, jet-skiing and camping and probably noshing a few 99s.  Yet I guess at that altitude it's not for the lily livered .  There's got to be a bit of a nip in the air. There's a need for warm garments to keep out the cold.  Perhaps this fact may have, in the past,  contributed to the decline of the Caucasian Leopard. It seems that less than 20 of these beasties now skulk around the lake avoiding those hunters looking for the raw materials to make the Armenian seaside equivalent of Southend's kiss me quick hat!

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