Written in a car towards tbilissi (hitchhiking with Nata), drunk with mingrelli wine and overeaten with all kinds of food.
We kind of expected trouble in Karabakh. It's a disputed territory belonging to Azerbaidjan under the control of Armenian army.
But trouble came way before Karabakh. We were all tired after one sleepless night and expected another good night sleep but destiny voted otherwise.
After bathing in the geysers we left Jermuk for better horizons. The mountains of Tatev should be beautiful and plenty of places to put a tent. Plus, there also are geysers of hot water. So why not try them again and not repeat the same mistakes?
In the evening, a car stops. We eat ice cream. Nata looks amazing. With her red hair, she looks exactly like Kirsten Dunst.
The guy asks where we are going, Nata says Tatev. They will even give us a tour of a city. I don't trust that guy but I don't say anything because I don't have any arguments and without and Nata and Poly seem to like them. So I trust their better judgement. Girls have better intuition anyway. They bring some lavash, armenian bread. Great, dinner is secured. I don't like that little bottle of lemonade, there is vodka in it and it's not the industrial kind, it's home made. That means sixty percent.
Nata points out that it's a small bottle, there is a limit. I think they have another but I also think that Nata is right. Because as we saw earlier, Nata has ressources and decision making and in general, is often right.
The guy is a telecom person, he does something with optic fiber. He has education, can't be that bad. They take us to the hot springs which turn out to be cold springs. I don't know it yet but this is the last time me and Natalia kiss. From that point, our fake relationship for passports goes down as formally as a relationship for passports should.
God still gets bonus points for that kiss but I guess he is getting sober now. He is getting sober and he is getting a serious hangover.
There is a cliff with a rope. Poly doesn't want to climb. The telecom guy wants to climb down that cliff towards that mountain stream inside caves where some people are already bathing.
I like that idea and Nata to. We climb down. Telecom guy is helping Nata more than she needs, my thinking is that he is just waiting for an excuse to grab her. He gets that opportunity when Nata falls. And then he wants a million pictures of him and her.
I don't like that guy. I have a bad feeling about him. He climbs better than I expected but still worse than me. I asks Nata if I should be worried and she says that everything is allright. No worries then but I still don't like him. For a little while, I wonder if I am not jaleous. But how can I be? I don't believe in jalousy and I don't believe in relationships, let alone exclusive ones. And I don't really believe in a relationship with Nata. She is already screwing with my head too much.
So if it's not jalousy, should I be worried?
We have dinner. We drink this liter of vodka. We say toasts, as we do in georgia.
"We drink to meeting new people and all will be good and there will be no borders and everything will be allright; it's like all people go to one another and find happiness in their heart."
That is a georgian toast for you. Nata masters them with ease and grace. It's in her native language so it is easier but she has charisma, sure no doubt about that.
The vodka is pretty strong. Poly doesn't drink, she's pregnant. Of course she isn't but with armenians, you have to resort to extreme arguments. We decide to go to sleep when the guy brings another bottle. No way. He starts dancing with Nata. No fucking way. So he dances with Poly. He is drunk, he is annoying. No more dancing, we go.
"Why don't you let me dance with your sister?", he asks me. I'm the bad guy here but I couldn't care less. Later, Nata will tell me that the guy tried to kiss her and that he tried to grab Poly. I knew it! But what does it matter if I don't act on it? That is one difficulty of travelling with Nata, she is a good leader so I doubt all my decisions more. And less of them make it towards my lips.
He goes with us to find us a place for a tent. Thank you very much, this is indeed a nice place but we'll look a little further if you don't mind.
As soon as he leaves we continue further along the path. Lots of flat spaces next to the path but it's dark, we don't see very well.
A few minutes pass and we hear shouting. Flashlights. The guy is looking for us. He and his friends. They are calling us. They don't see a tent so they want to figure out what's going on, why didn't we put up a tent as they told us, they want to have control of the situation. Armenians.
I want to go deeper into the woods. Poly and Nata are against it. Poly doesn't want to explore this forest in the night not to hurt herself and Nata doesn't believe it is possible to find a good place to sleep deeper into the woods. That is one thing weird with Poly and Nata, they sometimes consider entire regions of a country to be unusable for tent building. They just point at a mountain patch five kilometers afar and say: "look at the terrain, there is no flat space". I don't get that concept, so far I've always managed to put a tent everywhere.
I go to explore but it's useless because I know that Poly and Nata won't follow me even if I find something. It's annoying, I am loosing my self-confidence.
So I come back to Nata and Poly. The flashlights are still there. They're searching for us. It must be half an hour they are trying to find us. Aren't they tired? Stubborn Armenians. We fall the the ground. Powerful cones of light circle the space around us. They don't see us, they don't see us. But they don't stop. Another car arrives, more flashlights. They are doing a systematic sweep of the territory. Stubborn armenians, they never give up. It's past midnight. Soon enough, they have us.
"Why are you hiding from us? You think bad things about me don't you? Shame on you!" That's one angry Armenian with his pride hurt. One more armenian who doesn't understand why it is wrong to hunt for people who explicitly told him that they want to be left alone. I try to reason with him. He speaks russian and a little english. I try to point the conversation towards the notion of respect.
"Respect - what is that?", asks the guy. Why am I not surprised?
Anyway, Nata does not let me negociate. She has her own way of handeling things. And she is smart, I'm sure she has a plan and a good one.
Every thirty seconds she jumps into my labourious conversation and floods it with native russian.
"Please Nata let me just try one thing. Give me one chance to make him leave and if I fail, he is all yours."
"You don't know Armenians. They are stubborn they are not like French. They're like georgians, you cannot get to them this way. It's another culture."
She talks to me like I am a ten year old. Do you think you are the only one with resources here? The only one who has travelled georgia. We have had our fair share of encounters with Ilona too and we have solved them. I have crossed turkey with girls without any trouble. So go to hell Nata, I can solve conflicts if you just shut up two minutes.
I don't doubt Nata's superiour abilities with Armenians but beside being Armenian, this guy is also a bit of a geek. And I wouldn't bet a georgian cow's bony ass on Natalia's abilities in handeling geeks.We give in to his demands as Nata wants, Poly starts building a tent. I am really angry. I don't like being stepped on my toes. I don't care how amazing Natalia is, this is not right.
We start to argue, mostly in english, Nata has her moments of russian that I am glad I am not able to translate.
Poly pulls herself between up. She tries to calm us down. She is so moving, it occurs in my mind that I am travelling with two exceptional people. But I'm still angry. Meanwhile, the camp gets circeled by armenians. We are literaly under siege and there is no escape. The situation could be scary but it became absurd instead.
"Do you see what you did to our marriage?", I shout at the siege leader, "We were the happiest newlyweds in the world and now you've ruined it. Shame on you!".
In Armenia, you should be careful with the "shame on you" and "you are a bad man", people get hurt for less.
The guy is a little taken aback, not too much, it's barely noticable. Maybe he expected us to be afraid. But we are mostly tired and angry. He turns his attention to Nata.
"I'm not talking to you.", she says, "We are fightning because you only talk to me. Talk to Filip."
So he turns to me.
"Don't talk to me, talk to Nata!"
"You're like little children", says Poly.
Nobody pays attention to our siege force.
And it is that asieged that we go to sleep.
"I am going to leave you", says the guy, "because you have caused me harm. You had bad thoughts about me. But I cannot guarantee some bad people from the village won't harm you."
Armenian translation, to harm probably implies to rob, rape and kill.
"If bad people come and find us, how can they know we are there?"
"What are you implying?", the guy's pride is hurt again, "you can only think bad things about people, shame on you."
Nata goes to sleep. "I hope the armenian people will not betray us." She says.
I am not going to sleep. No way. If will not be taken by surprise in my sleep. Of course, probably nothing will happen but this time, I do not want to leave anything to chance. Because I do not want to witness the real version of yersterday's events.
I take my knife and pepper spray and stand watch. I will stay here all night if I must. As soon as I exit the tent, a powerful flash of light points into my direction. I have time to hide behind the tent. The camp is being flooded by light. They don't see me. Light beams cover the camp for 10 good minutes before they get tired.
At least a car is standing high above our camp with lights on. I hear someone walking around. Or maybe it's just wind or animals.
Slowly, I make my way out of the camp into the darkness of the night. The flashlights miss me, I feel free. Free from the siege but also kind of free from Nata: I make my own decisions. I want to take the high ground, discover how many people are there and if there is reason to fear them.
Unfortunately, without light, I step on one too many branches. It makes lots of noise and I am discovered about 20 meters from the camp by a huge flashlight. It's the telecom guy, the siege leader.
"Can't I go to the toilet in peace?"
He makes his way towards the tents, he is going to wake up the girls. No way. I try a bold move, I abandon the camp and make my way towards the car. It may be open and empty, probably keys are still inside. How much does he trust me with his brand new car?
It works. He gets back, welcomes me with a smile. He is alone. His car is empty. He doesn't look that strong, I could probably pepper-spray him and beat him badly enough for the girls to sleep till morning. I wouldn't get much sleep though. But I remember Nata's opinion on this. When you get into a fight in Armenia, you don't put a few bruises in the balance. You play your life and as for the girls, you can imagine.
And that guy is a better climber than he looks, maybe he is also tougher than he looks.
One thing is for sure, that guy is a psychopath. He is ugly, he is smart and he is a manipulator.
He would like to have sex with Poly. At least now I know what this is about. Actually, I am relieved. It's just about sex. I try to play the religion card, it doesn't work. He doesn't care about religion, he only cares about himself. He doesn't respond to pity either. He doesn't understand other people's pains and emotions because they don't understand his if he still has some.
In fact he hates Poly and he hates Natalia too. He probably hates himself in the first place.
Nata is right, it was useless to negociate, to talk about our freedom and respect. He doesn't have empathy for anyone but himself. And he thinks the price for his hospitality is sex with Poly.
I wanted negociation, I have my negociation. Nata warned me not to get into that, was she right?
I understand that he is a female-hating nerd swimming in self pity and I'll try to connect to that. I explain to him that Poly is a bitch, that she's frigid as hell, that I tried to have sex with her several times but it never worked because she was so stupidly in move with her husband. And Nata is my wife so no question about that, even for an asshole like him.
For the first time, something works. We talk about women, not in the nicest way. He suggests us having sex all together, me with Nata and him with Poly. He also asks me to hold Poly down while he tries to... you imagine the scene. It took all my mental strength not to crush his head against his fucking windshield.
By 2AM, I think I convinced him that the girls were useless, sexually speaking which made our encounter useless completly.
No matter how, no matter why, 10 minutes later, he left.