When a friendly Armenian dropped us at the bridge crossing the Debed river at the entrance of Alaverdi, heavy rain started to fall, and an old man in charge of the small petrol station invited us into his small office. A narrow bed, above which a poster of what looked like a Russian porn star, and a small table with a fitting chair on which our temporary host sat, were the unexpected setting for a difficult conversation in which the old man continued to talk Russian, and we tried as hard as we could to pick up the few words we knew, and trying even harder to give him a meaningful reply. Our new friend was not offended when we asked permission to leave; it was getting late, the rain had all but stopped, and we still wanted to explore the famous Sanahin monastery. We crossed the bridge, and were not even surprised anymore when the very first car that passed, took us up.
The driver turned out to be an enthusiastic inhabitant of Sanahin, and on the way up the curvaceous road, he did not stop talking, thus showing some of his golden teeth. When we entered the town that turned out to be much bigger than I had imagined, he started talking about samalyot - and after a few times, I suddenly remembered it meant airplane in Russian. Then again, I wondered what he was trying to convey. Rain was again pouring on the roof of the car as he turned left where the sign for the monastery pointed right, and pulled up to a low wall. I looked right - and to my big surprise, saw a silvery fighter jet parked under a concrete wall in the shape of a wave. So this is what he had intended to say. Reluctantly, we gave in to the enthusiasm of the driver, climbed over the wall as the door was closed, and stood next to the remarkably small fighter plane - a MiG 21.
We now started to understand what our friend from Sanahin was trying to say: the designer of the MiG fighter jets, Artyom Mikoyan (the other designer being Gurevich, hence the abbreviation MiG), was born and raised in Sanahin, and one of the sons of which the inhabitants were very proud. The other turned out to be his brother, Anastas Mikoyan, who made a career in the early years of the Soviet Union, the most influential Armenian in Moscow at the time. We walked a neatly maintained alley towards a small building, once a school, now a museum, which was closed. At one side, we saw a luxurious old Russian limousine in a glass housing. At this moment, a lady who turned out to be of the same Mikoyan family, showed up, and kindly opened the museum for us. It turned out to be a charming little museum, with all kinds of paraphernalia (old flags, books, pictures, and many other interesting items) of the famous Mikoyan brothers who placed Sanahin on the map. We ourselves had learnt something here, and wanted to thank the driver who had taken us here - but he had disappeared without saying a word. We left the building, and again, heavy rain was coming down. We decided to take shelter under the wings of the MiG fighter jet and, while looking out over the landscape below us, enjoyed that satisfying feeling that come to the traveler who opens himself up to unexpected things.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mikoyan museum (Armenia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Mikoyan museum. Read more about this site.