I tried to enjoy myself there as much as I could but it simply did not work. Friday the thirteenth syndrome was in full swing and I knew it is not over until it is over. Even a switch of vendor’s activities from fruit and vegetable to all kinds of fish, fresh and smoked, caught in Lake Sevan
could not distract me and lessen the feeling of impending disaster.
So we moved on carefully and as we were approaching a pretty monastery on the lake shore our temperature indicator suddenly dropped to a cold 85C temperature while almost 300km (200 miles) long drive from Goris must have emptied the Niva tank’s tank, the fuel indicator that was almost always in the middle of the range, suddenly showed the tank FULL. Only then I realized that to rely on any indicator in this car would be foolish and I decided:
Forget them all, including the temperature gauge, and simply buy 20 liters every 200-250 kilometers on the road.
I have to say the famous, pictoresque Lake Sevan, appearing on every tourist poster promoting Armenian tourism, represented a big problem for taking pictures. The problem was what all those old time Soviets, new time Coca-Cola ads and local artists to boot were doing to this Lake Tahoe of Armenia. You can see above a forcefully „doctored“ alternative to reality, the postcard view, that was achieved by carefully climbing to a perfect spot, and shooting from a perfect angle, hiding the bleak reality.
The ground is covered with plastic bottles and trash and littered with fishermen’s cars in different stages of oil change. And surrounding all those beautiful thousand years old monasteries are ugly Coca-Cola refreshment stations and dilapidated „resorts“ consisting of corrugated steel dachas painted light blue built under the Soviets to elevate the health of their „workers“ after a lakeside stay. The oil paintings of Sevan with roses, deers, and lovers on the lake background in all imaginable seasons of the year are being offered by artists at deep discounts, variety of frames and free shipping to any place on this planet. Architects of Armenia compete for the title of „Largest hotel on the Lake“ creating the morbid pyramids, half completed. The real pyramids of Giza would flush green with envy.
Lake Sevan (actually meaning Black Van, after Van Lake from where the Armenians came originally) is one of the three great lakes of the historical Armenian Kingdom, collectively referred to as the Seas of Armenia. It is the only lake now within the boundaries of modern Armenia. The other two Lake Van and Lake Urmia are inTurkey and Iran respectively.
Is there any hope for Sevan? Maybe if Nature steps in. Thanks to Soviets and their Armenian communist quislings who artificially lowered the level of Sevan in one of their many idiotic development schemes most of the new ugly stuff now lies below the lake’s original pre-Soviet era water level. *
Let us hope that somehow Nature gets the level back where it was 100 years ago and that horrendous stuff disappears under the new lake surface forever.
*In case you want to know the whole extent of Russian Communist stupidity and ecological crime here are the details: In Joseph Stalin’s era, the water level was planned to be reduced by 55 m by deepening the lake, the perimeter would shrink to 80 km and the volume to only 5 km³. Nut and oak trees would be planted on newly acquired land, and introducing some trout species into the remainder of the lake would increase fishery production ten-fold. It did not quite work out to the extent of this plan but it was bad enough. Of course no tress were planted or trout was bred. Despite the efforts to fix the eco disaster by building tunels and bringing back eater from nearby rivers the post Soviet Armenian governement managed to stabilize the level at 20 m below the original. That’s why Sevan monastery is now on a peninsula instead of an island.