With cars in short supply, trading the villages was no small task. Often ethnic Azerbaijani villagers would drive to Kerkenj in the same borrowed car that had brought the Kerkenj villagers to Armenia, some villagers say.
In the case of Sonia Vardanyan’s family, a young man from Kerkenj who already had moved to Armenia drove back into Azerbaijan, “and, at 2 am, we left the village,” she says.
The time was chosen for security reasons. Similarly, rather than crossing Azerbaijan’s administrative border with Armenia, the migrants traveled north to Georgia from the western Azerbaijani region of Qazakh and then south to their new village.
“We were the last ones to leave that village [Kerkenj] and things were a lot worse already,” Vardanyan says. “We could hardly find a car and our luggage was already here.”
When the villagers moved to Qizil Shafaq, they had wanted to rename the village after their village in Azerbaijan. The reasons why Dzyunashogh was chosen are unclear.
Opinions were divided about the move. The climate in the mountains of northern Armenia were much colder than in Kerkenj, and cattle, potatoes and grain, rather than the vineyards that the villagers had lovingly cultivated in Azerbaijan, were the source of income.
Sonia Vardanyan remembers that the village already had fields planted with potatoes, barley and wheat when the Kerkenj villagers arrived from Azerbaijan.
“People would work here, and whoever could milk a cow, would do that. I would work in the barns in winter and in summer I would herd the cattle up into the mountains.”
Today, the 27 families who still live here mostly sell milk to earn money. Only eight of these families are natives of Kerkenj.