On Lake Sevan, I stay for exactly four hours. Then, I decide against my original plan and move on to Yerevan. Initially, I wanted to camp in the wild for two days, enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunset, take time and breathe. Like I did in Georgia. I needed a break again. In Armenia I read, this should work without problems. But I can't shake the feeling of being watched. I don't feel safe. The constant honking of strange men in their cars, reminds me, that they are watching. On the one hand, they want to "help" me, and the scenario would be very different, had I not been alone. Men and couples can enjoy this kind of attention and file it under "hospitality" or "help". For single women, this quickly turns into harassment. Every contact begins hospitable, that's just how things work here. But too often, these exchanges end in unpleasant discussions and insults.
My visit to Dilijan is marked by the breach of trust described in the previous post. I felt like I was done with Armenia. Dilijan is a nice little town, but the position of women became more and more apparent to me. Through R., whom I met in Alaverdi, I got the contacts of I. and S., also volunteers. Both come from Germany and have been contesting the Armenian waters for several months. They learn the language, can already read and have experienced some exciting moments. Since they were sent by the European Volunteer Service, they have an Armenian guardian. This is blessing and curse at the same time. A curse because every movement is observed and commented, and a blessing because it's indispensable. This constant observation is typical for this country. Here, everyone knows (or believes to know) about everyone's business.
Anger. Every word in the following text is saturated with incomprehension and rage. Also, two weeks after I wrote it, I can still feel the anger fresh in my stomach. I leave this text as it is because this is part of travelling alone as a woman. However careful you are, travel long enough, and it will happen to you, too. Not to write about it would be unworthy of my travel documentation, and I would feel dishonest. I have talked with many travelling women about it, and everyone has lived with similar or worse things. (Which doesn't make it better.)
Women in Armenia are seen as either saints or whores. And since European women cannot be saints per definition, they are whores. Neither inclination nor age plays a role. The difference between the rural and the urban population is huge in this regard. In Yerevan, I often feel like I am in Berlin, in the provinces constant honking reminds me, that you are seen. An unpleasant feeling.
In Georgia, I take a Mashrutka headed to Yerevan, and three hours later I am in Alaverdi. Alaverdi is a small town in northern Armenia. As soon as I step off the bus, I notice a different wind blowing. Everyone looks at me, and in a short time, four of the ten or so taxi drivers had asked me where I wanted to go. I rebuff their offers, exchange money, buy fruit, and go to a cell phone store. There I meet one (of four) Armenian women in this city that speak perfect German. She provides me with the right sim card and gives me a sense of security. Back on the main square, the taxi drivers rush to my aid, again. For them, it's monstrous that I want to take a bus, not a taxi. After all, I am a European, and therefore it's my duty to spend as much money as possible here. In the beginning, I had refused the offerings with a friendly smile, but now I put on a determined look and stare angrily into their faces. In the end, I just ignore them. I don't care to be polite anymore.