- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
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 July 11 , 2003 

Pollen Nation: The Lori region offers health in the air

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, Pushkin.
Around these forests live the villager of Gar-Gar, Gyulagarak, Hobardi, Vardablur, Pushkino, and Kurtan.
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 start."
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 Grigor Nerkararyan.
Parents 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 nature."
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, of Poland.
"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 Botanical Gardens.
Anna Marikyan has become the sanitorium's unofficial tour guide..

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 office) tree."
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 Juliette Martinyan.
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.

According to Agnes
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The National Chamber Orchestra made a tour of Karabakh last weekend, including an open-air performance at the College of Applied Sciences in Shushi. THe Orchestra is back from a recent tour of Moscow and St. Petersburg.



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