Arriving just in time to catch a marshrutka to Yerevan, the last way to get from Tblisi, the capital of Georgia to the capital of Armenia, we hopped right onto the bus. Joining us on the bus were three Irishmen; Hugh, Mogue and Conner- great guys. But we really weren't prepared what we were in for. Stupidly, we sat in the very back of the bus, the four of us girls comfortably fit together while the boys took seats further towards the front. ad idea. Throughout the ride, actually within the first five minutes we discovered the car had no shocks. As in no absorbing material as we raced through the dirt roads full of pot holes and bumps. With each bounce, and there were many along the way, we flew out of our seats. Within the first fifteen minutes we all looked knowingly at each other- vomiting was definitely going to happen. It was an eventuality on this 7 hour ride.
We tried to sleep and it halfway worked. But then, Alyson, a fellow Fulbrighter, and old Peace Corps volunteer for Kyrgyzstan decided to regale us with stories about marshrutkas she's taken in the largely unknown country of Kyrgyzstan. "In Kyrgyzstan, the marshrutkas always get in accidents. I was in at least five." Oh good. "One time, on a marshrutka in Krgyzstan, our bus caught fire and I had to climb over people to escape." So as I begin having panic attacks, the marshrutka driver seemed to sense my discomfort and decided to do something about it. He sped up. Meanwhile, it is just past sunset, we just crossed the Armenian border and there are dark, icy, two-way roads that are actually only one lane wide. The driver careened around the sharp mountain roads expertly, with no pause or consideration for traffic that might be coming the other way. And because apparently one of their main roads from the border collapsed last year, they are rebuilding the road and we were lucky enough to bump along for a good thirty minutes on a wet, mud, pot-filled road. The inside of the marshrutka was so warm compared to the biting cold outside, the windows had formed a good layer of ice on the inside of the windows. With every bump, as my bum flew further of the seat, I wandered how much longer I could keep my dinner down.
We finally made it to Yerevan, alive. And mostly in one piece.
- Traveling from Tbilisi to Yerevan? This is pretty accurate. But note that the trains between Tbilisi and Yerevan only run on odd or even days, depending on which way you are coming from.