We left on the 12th of May in the morning, stopping at Artashat to have breakfast with the beautiful Ararat before our eyes. It is inexplicable the magic that feels to be around with other friends of Birthright Armenia and AVC sharing a typical breakfast, laughing and counting the hours that are missing to reach our beloved Artsakh.
After a couple of hours, we arrive at Tatev, where is the longest cable car in the world. Appreciating the beauty of the mountains in the guided monastery, where we all had lunch together after the priest blessed our food.
Once we arrived at the Shushi town we were greeted exceptionally at the Shushi Hotel, we all had dinner together and shared a toast. After that, we met our host families. I can not describe the kindness and hospitality of my host family. A sweet older lady named Alina and her young daughter named Alona were waiting for us on a cold night with a tea, a cozy bed and lots of stories to share.
In the morning Alina taught us to prepare "Zhingalov Hatz" a typical bread from her region which is prepared with all kinds of herbs and we all enjoy it together as a family and then go to a meeting with Davit Babayan (Head of the Central Information Department of The Office of the President of the Artsakh Republic) who informed us about the political-military situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and answered very kindly our doubts about it.
At noon we had the privilege of visiting the military base of Stepanakert and having lunch with the soldiers while we shared their stories of life. After an emotional lunch, we went to see the museum of the fallen soldiers of Artsakh where there were many feelings found due to the sadness and impotence generated by seeing photos, letters, and belongings of soldiers killed in the war.
At the end of the visit, we go to the monastery of Gandzasar where after enjoying the tour we had dinner together.
The next morning we had the opportunity to hike from Azokh to Shekher, knowing the varied flora, walking between the mountains and being able to appreciate part of the fauna of the region. Upon arriving at Shekher a kind gentleman named Aro and his family was waiting for us with one of the richest typical meals called Dolma and then we went to the winery Kataro, where we all could taste the creation.
After that, the staff of Birthright and AVC proposed an interesting game, consisting of separating us into groups and giving each group a bottle of wine, knock on the door of some neighbor of the region, introduce ourselves and share the wine with that family while we enjoy their talks, life stories and so on.
The people of the region are very kind, grateful to knock on your door we were invited to pass and in a blink of an eye filled their table with all kinds of homemade food, tea, coffee and wine of the slogan. The love that the families felt to know who we were and what was the cause for which we were there, is indescribable and filled us with happiness.
After finishing the game, we went to the house of a man called Saro whose goodness and that of his whole family is something that I will never forget; they have a very pure heart and I really could not be more grateful.
During dinner, each person present made a toast in honor of what he most appreciated, which was really a very emotional instance.
Monday, May 15, the day of my birthday. All I could think about was how amazing and unimaginable it was to be celebrating 20 years of life in a place like Artsakh, surrounded by kindly young people who in less than 2 weeks had become family. I had the opportunity to get to know the city of Shushi on a city tour and then head to Goris where we had lunch in a very quaint restaurant. I could not be more grateful for the birthday I was living, I could not ask for anything more, there was nothing I could perfect that day. When suddenly, my friends approached me with a giant cake, singing and wishing me a happy birthday. I really can not be more grateful. Immediately typical Armenian music began to sound and we all began to dance in a round; According to the song that sounded we were taught the typical steps of their region and all joyful celebrated my 20 years.
From this tour, I take the best experience of my life. The love of people, kindness, laughter, tears! I really have no words to thank Birthright Armenia for letting me be part of their family and living what I am living.