Passengers on the bumpy bus ride through the Vayots Dzor hinterlands were dozing on and off when their eyes pricked up at the sight on the road sign pointing to the villages of Kapuyt and Sers.
The bus stopped and my fellow travelers took photos of the sign as if it were a portend of something good to come.
Heading down a narrow road to Kapuyt, a vista of wheat tinted fields spread out before us on the left with blue mountains etching out a contour in the horizon.
Our bus stopped at the spring in the village and a few people got off, looking in vain for someone to tell them where the local khachkars (stone crosses) were located.
Luckily, Gevorg arrived on the scene. At first, the village resident was somewhat taken aback at seeing the visitors. Kapuyt really lies off the beaten track. People from the outside only come, Gevorg said, to see the 13th century stone crosses. Gevorg and his son took us to the spot, and we started to talk.
“It’s an atmosphere of indifference. No one comes to find out if anyone actually lives here. They say the government assists border villages, but we haven’t seen any such help. Our village borders Nakhijevan but they don’t help with anything. We live hand to mouth,” said Gevorg.
The young man said that only three families reside in Kapuyt during the winter. During the summer others come to spend their vacations or for herding livestock.
“We have no gas, water, school or store. There isn’t even a medical clinic. In a word, nothing,” said Gevorg, who was getting the words out with difficulty due to a bad toothache.
Gevorg said he had to get to the Vayk, the nearest town to see a dentist, but that there’s no transportation to get there and, if he did, he doesn’t have the money to pay.
“I don’t expect anything from the government. I’ve been living here for the past twenty years and things are getting worse. So many people have left. Only three remain and they might leave as well. That would be the end for the village. People saw that no assistance was coming so they packed up and moved to Russia,” said Gevorg, adding that the last time any official showed up was before the elections with a list of promises.
During the Soviet era, the village was inhabited by Azeris but Gevorg says that it was historically an Armenian community.
There are three children in the village, two of which are Gevorg’s. The kids attend classes in the nearby community of Gomk, which administratively encompasses Kapuyt. It’s about three kilometers away.
There’s a car that takes the children to school. Last winter, though, the roads were too hazardous and the kids stayed home the entire season.
When the spring freezes over in the winter, residents must melt snow for water.
Gevorg also told me about the wolves who come down into the village once night falls.
“It’s just too dangerous to walk outside after dusk because of the wolves. It’s more like a zoo than a village,” Gevorg explained. All the while, his son Hayk was standing to one side, listening attentively.
We then walked to Gevorg’s house where his wife Rouzanna was preparing a meal over an open fire in the yard.
The kids were playing there as well. “We dream of leaving the village. There’s nothing interesting to do. There are only three kids here,” they said.
When I asked Gevorg if he just might move away, he mulled it over for a moment and said, “If things continue like this, it’s possible. But who’d watch over the village, the border…”
The sun was slowly setting when we said our goodbyes.
A bluish haze descended over Kapuyt. And in the distance you could hear the wolves preparing for their nightly jaunt.