Sunday, May 08, 2005

Sunday—Gandzasar, Agdamb, and Khorovats

Sunday morning we woke up early to head for the monastery of Gandzasar. Breakfast was hot dogs which I’ve discovered to be a staple of the Armenian breakfast. As if this was not bad enough, Saro brought out shot glasses. My first experience drinking vodka and eating hot dogs prior to 9 a.m. amazingly occurred on the same morning. In Armenia, people toast every time a shot is poured and it is not simply “cheers.” Saro went on for about five minutes before we took the shot. Displeased by our facial expressions, he poured another shot to give us a second chance and redeem ourselves.

After breakfast we headed off to the monastery of Gandzasar, about a half hour from Shushi. It was especially interesting because we saw a church service and then a baptism. We were also able to see a missile launched by Azerbaijan during the war that hit a wall protecting the church.

Agdamb probably was the most interesting side trip we made during the trip. It is basically no man’s land, a buffer between the Azerbaijan and Karabagh border. Agdamb was once a city of over 200,000 people but has been reduced to rubble. The pictures may not be big enough to show the scope of the destruction, but I assure you it is unlike anything I have ever seen. The only buildings left standing are the mosques which are now inhabited by cows. We climbed a minaret and this is where these photos are taken. The only industry that goes on here is the collection and sale of scrap metal. Karabagh destroyed the city after they won the war because it was a prime launching point for Azerbaijan against the capital of Stepanakert.

Khorovats is the Armenian barbecue, and that is how we celebrated “the liberation of Shushi” on Sunday night. It was lots of fun, and we had mulberry and wild cherry vodka which are specialties of Karabagh. I’m learning a bit of Armenian dancing, and also learning that the Armenians know how to drink.


Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...

Aghdam had a population of somewhere between 35-50,000. I think you're confusing the population of the administrative district of Aghdam (between 140-200,000) with that of the town that you saw levelled.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks for the info...where is the administrative district located?

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...

Around the town, I assume, although part of the district is under Armenian control, the other under the Azeris. Unfortunately, can't find a map on the Internet in what was admitteldy only a 5 minute search.

11:47 PM  
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Knight Shot Glass

3:31 AM  

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