As fun as life in Yerevan can be, sometimes on the weekends it’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city in order to recharge and to experience some breathtaking nature. This past Saturday, I joined a group that was heading to Dendro Park, an arboretum in Stepanavan that houses an 80-year-old Sequoia tree among others. The greenery was stunning, but it was the village life around it that really struck me. It’s not the first time I’m experiencing it, but it never ceases to amaze me how simple some lives are and how complicated others can be.
Those who have been here know that life outside Yerevan is very different. It’s not uncommon to see old men and women sitting around, eating seeds, or selling fruits along the side of the road — no smartphones in sight. It’s also not uncommon for traffic to suddenly form thanks to herds of sheep and cows roaming the streets — it happened a few times on our way back to Yerevan, and it never gets old. And while many villages are not a traditionally pretty sight, I think there’s something subversively beautiful about them. It’s not an easy life necessarily, but I’m envious that they don’t feel the need to keep up with a million things and are able to surround themselves with loved ones. These are two things I strive for and are the crux of why I appreciate Armenia.
On our way out of Dendro Park, before heading back to the city, we witnessed a few unique things worth mentioning: a Cinderella-style horse and carriage (presuming for tourists), an impromptu horseback riding competition between a few of the village men, and neighbors hanging out in their slippers — just a normal Saturday night in Gyulagarak village.