The four-hour journey from Yerevan is hardly
noticed when a traveler reaches the Lori region.
The final pass is through a one-kilometer long
tunnel from which is entered evergreen forests
and the beauty that enjoyed by the great novelist,
Around these forests live the villager of Gar-Gar,
Gyulagarak, Hobardi, Vardablur, Pushkino, and
Twenty-four year old Anna Marikyan is not a tour
guide, but probably could be as she knows every
path and the history of her forest home.
"Gar-Gar and Gulakarak are surrounded with
Chogiaj, Ajasar, Klor Tala and Javot Jurd mountains,"
Anna explains. "We usually have the most
guests in June, when pollination of pine trees
Families of villagers go to the forests to breath
fir-tree pollen, which they say is very good for
health. There is a sanatorium, Sojut, built in
1937 where mothers take children needing treatment
for various breathing disorders.
"Pine trees' pollen contains ftovazin, which
is good for bronchial tubes, bronchial asthma,
pneumonia and allergies," explains pediatrician
bring children to Lori in hopes that the pollinated
air will help breathing ailments.
Anna has worked in Sojut for three years as an
on duty nurse. She believes in the natural remedies
provided by the fresh Lori air and says that a
person's health depends on "harmony with
In the beginning of June, 33 children with their
parents from Moscow, Voronezh, Yerevan, Gyumri,
Ararat and Vanadzor were resting here. The daily
expenses for a child is 2,850 drams (about $5)
and 4000 drams (about $7) for adults. Four meals
and all kinds of physiotherapeutic treatment are
included in the amount.
Nekararyan, however, is afraid the sanatorium
may not be around much longer to offer such help.
The sanatorium is no longer financed by the State
and has debts of about $55,000. Working three
month in summer they manage to pay all taxes,
salaries of 20 employees and provide services
for those resting there. In better times around
100 people were working there.
Dendropark Botanic Garden and Gulagarak's observation
post of South branch of the National Seismic Control
Service provide working places for the residents
of the neighboring villages.
Anna enters Dendropark's 35-hectare area by pathways
known only to her. She shows with pride different
kinds of trees brought here from the different
corners of the word.
Vitali Leonovich, director of the garden is a
forestry expert and candidate of biological sciences.
The garden was founded by his father Edmon Leonovich,
"In the Soviet times it was almost forbidden
to leave the country. But my father brought different
plants from the various parts of the world using
all means," the director says.
The oldest tree is 70 years old. Only 500 kinds
of the trees survived out of 2,500, but Dendropark
is still the third largest botanical garden, after
those in Yerevan and Dilijan.This is the third
park in Armenia after ones in Yerevan and Dilijan
Marikyan has become the sanitorium's unofficial
Vitali Leonovich began working at the park in
1984 and sadly says he has watched it decline
due to Armenia's many economic problems. And he
has resisted the idea of privatizing, as he insists
that it should be State property. Presently, Dendropark
gets much of its income from selling seedlings.
Anna Marikyan introduces trees like family members.
"This is South American maple, the other
maple is brought from the Scandinavian Peninsula
and next to it is Japanese nut tree," she
says. "This is a love tree and next to it
is zags (ZAGS in Russian is the marriage registry
People hang small pieces of fabric and handkerchiefs
on the branches of the love and zags trees for
their wishes to come true.
Gulagarak's observation station neighbors Dendropark
and occupies five small houses. The station is
staffed by the Martinyan family.
In the winter months, residents in this region
are shut off from the outside world by roads that
become impassable. Some residents live with families
in Yerevan or other cities. But the Martninyan
stay year-round "This is our life and we
like to live like that," says 50-year old
The station is a seismic measuring outpost where
Juliette's husband, Vachik, takes daily readings
and relays the data to Gyumri. Gyulagarak, he
explains has the clearest magnetic field in Armenia,
so it offers a good gauge of seismic activity.
Vachik's professional conversation turns to more
intimate one of Armenian type as Juliette prepares
an open-air table spread with home-made matsun,
cheese and bread.
And whether the conversation is about science
or food, in this region it comes back to nature.
Regardless of the conversation's topic it ends
with high level of pollination this year.
"Look, look there on the top of those pine
trees," Anna says. "See the wind taking
away clouds of pollen?"
Everybody looks to that direction. It seems yellow
clouds consisting of pine-tree pollen are strolling
on the top of the forest. Children run here and
there and cry out: "Pollination, pollination."
Locals look at guests with amazement as glances
follow the yellow path on the cool summer wind.