ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rick Ney started his life in Armenia in 1992, working in education, humanitarian aid and development, a relationship of that has taken him to it seems every nook of his adopted country. Rick is passionate about Armenia’s deep history and amazing ecology, and can be found roaming Armenia’s least known locales for yet another destination to write about. Rick is equally passionate about making the country accessible to the individual, non-Armenian visitor, which he believes will be the basis of Armenia’s development and democracy.
Rick wrote the first guide book to Armenia in the post Soviet era and the first multi-media complete guide to the country, TourArmenia. Writings include the first articles out of the Soviet Union about astral and archeological monuments in Armenia dating back 9000 BCE.
From the author:
I remember my first visits outside of Yerevan as enchanting times, combining bitter cold and harrowing launches up the sides of icy mountain roads with heartfelt gratitude and warm hospitality by local Armenians. They barely had enough for themselves, but at each stop they invited me to share their bread, their hearth and their good cheer. It seemed they would give the shirt off their back quite literally for their guest. And it seemed to me I needed to do something for them in return.
In 1993-1995 I worked on a USAID funded mission (“Tak Dz'mer”, Armenian Assembly of America, Fund for Democracy and Development) to provide heating kerosene to a little over 1.2 million Armenians throughout the country. In those months, conducting monitoring missions in each region of the country, I soon learned what a great opportunity Armenia is for the world traveler, and what potential tourism is for this land-locked country. Not only in work and money, but in the ways it opens countries to the outside world, brings in new ideas, and promotes democracy.
So I did the thing fools and cowboys caught in the midday sun do: I tried to describe this country to others, first in letters, then in Notes from Armenia, an online diary at Arminco’s web site (this was way before “blog” became a squashed pronoun), and finally, though the help and encouragement of friends and colleagues, as a guide book.
That book, TourArmenia, was published in 1997 as a CD-ROM (we did not have the money to print a book on paper) and was the first post-Soviet guide book to Armenia, and the first ever in CD-Rom format. I like to think it is still the most extensive, but others will disagree, and I don’t like spending my nights counting pages.
We went through 4 editions, and finally turned it into a web site, supported solely by myself with the help of friends and readers who submit tips, challenges and treatises.
Maps and graphics
Rafael met Rick in the fall of 1992 and they have been friends and colleagues ever since. In a previous life Rafael was the Assistant to the Minister of Sports for 15 years, and proudly asserts he went through 6 ministers, no mean feat in the Soviet Union. He joined the Armenian Assembly “Tak Dz'mer” Monitoring Project in 1993, and continued as it moved to Fund for Democracy and Development in 1994. Rafi taught himself computers, created the first multi-currency accounting program in Armenia, and then taught himself graphic design when TourArmenia needed maps. He created the first post Soviet maps of Armenia, which were considered the most accurate and easy to use for a number of years. Rafi designs web sites and graphics with Rick in their company TWRI.
Sources: Gagik Gurjian who shared his friednship, his knowledge, the vast trove of information at the ministry of monument preservation and his wine. Nora Gabrielan, the one who knows everything about anything flora in Armenia and who took me everywhere I could go, with eyes like a child in a candy store as each new flower unveiled its majesty on a windy mountainside. To Elma Parsamian, who discovered the observatory at Metsamor and the one at Karahundj, and who showed us just how smart these people really were! To Paris Heruni for his eye-popping stories of how Armenia fits into history. To Emma Khanzatian, my queen of archeology, no matter what others say, you saved Metsamor and opened it to the world; to Ashot Mirzoyan, Armine Avetisian, City Research Center, Paruir Zakaryan (‘Zhora’), Stepan Ter-Margaryan and Artoush Mkrtchian in Giumri; to the Zhanna Galyan and the EcoTourism Association , to the Speleological Society , the Institutes of History, Archeology and the Academy of Sciences , the Conservatory and countless schools and state offices and museums who threw open their doors and hearts to a mad dashing American running through the country in the dead of winter or night; to Tigran, who taught me my first Armenian; and to all who help to make this dream a continuing one of love.
Bella Karapetian, who gave me my first glimpse into the culture of this beautiful world and who tirelessly works to corrects my mistake and points me to the original source of everything so I do not copy anything; to Tigran Nazarian and Christine Karapetian , fonts of wisdom in a land sometimes run amuck, and their deep love for Armenia's mountains and flora and insights into the "way things work"; to Sam Stepanyan, our genius and never tiring supporter, who manhandles me into taking credit and to pushing the guide to the light of day; to Vahan Yerkanian, Grisha Saghian, Andranik Aleksanian, Arsen Ganapetian and the gang at Arminco who gave me a chance when everyone else said books were for burning on cold winter nights. To Samvel Simonian, who drove me everywhere including mad dashes in February to mountain tops.
No animals were harmed during the making of this guide, though quite a few Ladas and Nivas fell to the side of the road.