From now on out, I move through Yerevan with my big headphones. Most of the time I listen to loud music that drowns the omnipresent honking of the cars. This filters out an incredibly stressful aspect of walking on the streets. I learn to move safely, and with purpose. I jump from Mashrutka to Mashrutka, drive to the wrong places and turn around again. I follow my inner compass. I don't know the way and live with the resulting detours. I learn to move through the cars, learn where to look and what to pay attention to until I can deal with the noise without music on my ears.
The pink city is a special place for me. I stay for two weeks, meet some impressive women, enjoy the sophisticated nightlife, the delicious foods and have the great fortune of staying with the sister of a friend from Moscow. I experience a very Christian community, which lovingly receives me and integrates me into their everyday life. This community turns out to be the biggest gift of all. In Yerevan, I have a lot to do with myself. I roam the streets of this city more than I visit her.
I spend one of the most beautiful afternoons with two new acquaintances. One comes from Berlin, the other from Australia. Together we chat the day away in the most beautiful garden cafe in Jerevan. We all fight with the same demons, talk about writing, life, creativity, our chances, dreams and desires. We define ourselves, far from family and relationships, we are in search of happiness and self-realisation without self-abandonment. When I'm insecure and depressed, nothing helps me as much as talking to other women. We find common ground in our life goals and decisions. And I have a new, a very specific destination. Another door to knock on in Sydney.
I stand with my head bowed, and my hands open in the middle of my hosts. From all sides, I feel hands, on my shoulders, on my back and my stomach. Together, we pray that the language of the Holy Spirit is revealed to me. I still don't fully understand what this is about. For days we keep talking about God, how I pray and what I feel while doing it. My hosts read the Bible daily, they take the written word literally. I, on the other hand, understand the Bible as a literary text that describes history. I would never think of taking the Bible literally. I wasn't able to make myself understood, so I let it happen. With them, praying is directed to the outside world. You can hear them and see how they find relief in incomprehensible tongues. It is very different than praying as I know it. They are very confident in their faith and how to live it. The church to which they belong also exists in the rest of the world. Only I have never encountered it. That's one of the many reasons why I travel. There are things that I wouldn't be confronted with at home. Parallel universes are difficult to perceive. Seen from the inside a lot is put into perspective. This encounter allows me to immerse myself, without prejudice into this profoundly Christian and sometimes intimidating worldview.
I turn 29 years old in Yerevan. My 28th birthday I spent in Gdansk. There I had not told my hosts, did not want them to make an effort and try to celebrate me. Nothing would be more uncomfortable. But last year they saw it on my computer and organized a small birthday party. I had learned from this situation. In Yerevan I told my hosts in advance that I would have my birthday and at the same time gave the instruction to make no fuss about it. Of course, in vain. At midnight I was asked to join the little community in the kitchen where they had prepared a super tasty cake with table fireworks and the usual birthday songs. A huge bouquet of flowers was on the table. It was a special night, and I was touched.
In Yerevan, I reunite with R. from Alaverdi. She often comes to the metropolis on weekends to escape her small town. I can't help admiring her stamina. I am so incredibly happy to be able to move on (I have no idea that it will get much worse) and the idea to live another four months in this country and especially in the province, sends shivers down my spine. R. is an essential reference point for me. She knows so much more about the country and at the same time (as a part Lithuanian part Polish woman) has more patience and experience with ignorant macho men or - more respectfully said - with traditional gender roles. Of course, she doesn't have a solution, but she is the reason why I have been able to give Armenia second and third chances. You can't plan encounters like these. They come and go, and they are the most beautiful thing solo travelling brings.
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