You would think it was „Friday the Thirteenth“ as it was not the best day of our trip. But do not worry, like in a good movie all challenges are overcome at the end.
It started at 9 am when we tried to change some cash at the local Unibank in Goris and were told by the bank manager to come back at 9:30 when the bank officially opens . I guess the numerous staff at the tiny branch (3 females, security guard and manager) did not have their morning coffee yet. So with another long driving day ahead of us we decided to save the time and pull out some money from their ATM machine. Good, here is the money for much needed gas, whoops where is the card? The machine ate it with a discouraging message to contact my bank card issuer in the country of origin. When we ask the same bank manager at the unofficially opened bank if he could help retrieve the card he still has not had his morning coffee so he tells us to come back at 9:30. So we decide to find our own coffee and face the same deadline challenge. I guess NOTHING opens before 9:30. Finally an old lady sees our desperation and starts banging on a metal garden gate behind which a cute garden caffe serves a spectacular view with a cup of Armenian coffee for a whooping 25 cents.
We evaluate our cash balance in this country where cash, not credit card, is the king, and concoct plan B coming to a conclusion that we can still make it with cash reserves even if the ATM card is not returned. All of us fortified with morning coffee we resolve the issue with manager returning my card with a smile and „Have a nice trip“ goodbye and we are ready to continue of trip as normal. Well, not today. Nerves frazzled we start fighting in the car, as it sometimes happens after a while being together on a trip. It goes like this:
Where did you put my camera?
Do you have my passport?
Why did you not print out the directions?
I gave you my wallet. No, you didn’t.
Damn, the chocolate melted in my purse!
After a while the beautiful scenery despite the bad road surface calms our nerves and we get to our first cultural experience of the day. We take a ride on the cable car 5km (3plus mile) long ride over a spectacular gorge to a monastery of Tatev. The cable car is appropriately called the Wings of Tatev. It was included in the Guinness World Records as world’s „longest non-stop double track cable car.“ This monastery is from the 9th century and if the age was not an impressive enough factor, the location certainly is. Despite the seeming inacessibility, it’s history reflects all the turbulence of the Armenian state with invaders razing it many times. Mongols, Seljuk Turks and Timur Lenk were amonst a few that came through. There are even more impressive numbers associated with it, like housing 1000 monks in the 11th century. In 14th and 15th centuries it was an important University center that served as the repository for thousands of valuable manuscripts and other documents.
But I am out of sorts because I left my iPhone in the car parking lot, then I hit my head hard on the low ceiling in a dark monastery corridor, almost knocking me out of service.
As we get back to the car I can hear a ticking sound like a time bomb but can not find the source so we go ahead.
Another 50 miles ahead I feel like I need a coffee and a bite since our breakfast at the B&B today was not very filling. As I am slowly trying to pull into a parking lot of the LPG filling station, an Armenian Michael Schumacher tries to squeeze full speed between me and the curb! Thanks God our reaction prevented the worst as he jumped on his breaks and I pulled my car sharply to the left while my wife was screaming! The guy of course immediately jumped out of his car and started arguing. People began to gather. One can imagine this kind of hot blooded young Armenians given a gun to occupy a village and ensuing results. Seeing that he is rather short on stature and has no gun, he jumps back into his car, and engine roaring, floors the gas pedal. Armenian guys!!
With no metal damage, just blood boiling I get my two coffees (a typical misunderstanding when ordering a coffee with mom standing around) and both of us a wonderful piece of Armenian pastry, so our blood pressure goes back to normal. Still, watch out Mr. Mirek, something bad written in the stars may still happen! To be continued. No relief in sight.