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Yerevan: An Alpine Utopia?

Ereván, la capital de Armenia, es una ciudad sin salida al mar en la llanura de Ararat del Cáucaso. Aunque está ubicada en un amplio valle, Ereván es una de las capitales de mayor altitud de Eurasia, y tiene excelentes vistas de varias colinas y montañas.

Yerevan nowadays

The air is not always alpine fresh, though. The smoke from Yerevan’s belching chimneys, rusty exhaust pipes, and numerous dump fires often mixes with heavy, wet fog to regularly choke the city with a smog so thick and rancid it can be tasted on the tongue and felt in the eyes.

Many residents like to head to the Aragats mountains when they have a chance, to get away from the noxious fumes and into the fresh air. If they climb the mountains, they might even get lucky and see Yerevan stretched out across the valley, but usually the smog hovering over the city is so thick that all you can see is a dirty yellow-brown mist and maybe a church steeple or two poking up above it.

The mountains nearby Yerevan have become such an idyllic escape from the smoggy air that wealthy Yerevan is build their homes on their lower slopes, bribing local officials to encroach a little more year by year upon the forests of foothills near the city.

Apart from wealthy families and corrupt politicians, there are two other sections of Armenian society that inhabit the forests of the mountains: orthodox monks and the Armenian army. The monks have been here for a thousand years or more, and the army since the mid-twentieth century, when the Aragats mountains became a training ground.

In the far future, as shown below, the numbers of both soldiers and orthodox monks have dwindled drastically as the power and fortunes of the church and the army have waned. In their stead, a wave of squatting hippies, New Age spiritualists, and university students -- all come and occupy the abandoned monasteries and soldiers’ barracks, their small communes growing like mushrooms to propagate above the Yerevan smog.

Yerevan 2121

by A. Marshall and N. Kaenkaew

Nobody knows whether the occupation is criminal or not, because these squatters are on land whose ownership is contested between the church and state, and no one has yet worked out who properly should be lodging a complaint with the police.

De vez en cuando, se le dice a un cadete de la policía armenia que marche hacia las montañas para investigar, pero, por supuesto, tanto el monasterio como el campamento del ejército se construyeron aquí precisamente porque el lugar les permitía ser inaccesible. Entonces, después de tres horas de caminata, los cadetes generalmente se dan por vencidos, recolectan algunas deliciosas setas de otoño, luego se dan la vuelta y regresan a casa.

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