Jutting mountains and lush valleys greeted us as we traveled the 2.5h distance to Odzun, a village situated in the Lori province, high up on top of a mountain. Thank goodness for nerves of steel and a thrill for adventure, or else this gently reared city-girl would have had a heart attack on the slopes as we drove up and down and all around it. The roads are only wide enough for a single bus to be able to travel somewhat comfortably, making us gulp at the thought of a car coming down the same route. We arrived safe and sound, marveling at the unspoiled scenery, the green slopes and proud boulders standing guard to a gurgling stream happily cascading down the valley and uniting the 8 villages of the region.
According to legend, during the first century, Thomas the Apostle ordained the bishops and priests in the village of Odzun, thus giving the village its name, “to ordain” or Odzun.
We stepped foot in Odzun, ready for the Annual Inter-Community Meeting at Odzun. It was a lovely but meager festival, organized by the Armenian International Inter-Professional Group and Luys Foundation. The project is supported for 2 years now by the Rhone-Alps Region of France. There were shows by the local singers and dancers, offering to the people gathered within the church courtyard (the church standing tall but in the midst of renovation) a myriad of artistic performances and a symphony of music. Walking along the dirt road, we came across booths set up by each village, representing their harvest and unique art. When it comes to natural teas, honey and jam, this place had it all.
We had 6 hours to spare. After a meeting of minds, we decided to explore the nearby Haghpat Monastery, a Christian relic currently under the protection of UNESCO that we are convinced was originally a pagan temple. After ample exploration of the complex, we finished with a hearty meal at a nearby restaurant known as Atorick. The double visits to the Abaran bakery on the road back and forth only added to the amazing experience. With a bus full of absolutely lovable people, how can we not have fun?