The directions to Levon's house read something like this:"make a left at the post office, park at the end of the road, walk down the dirt path and take a right at the rusty pipe." When you get to Arindj, you basically walk around asking folks where Levon's house is. This is his house.
We banged on the door for a few minutes, until Levon popped out. Didn't bother asking us why we were there; apparently the sight of four Western-looking girls with cameras was pretty self-explanatory. We walked through this door ...
... and entered into Levon's underground world. Levon began digging after his wife, Tosya, asked him to dig her a pit to keep her potatos fresh. He dug a couple of meters (the deeper the hole, the colder the potatos), and then decided he quite liked digging. He kept going.
That was in 1985. He did not have an overarching vision. Levon says that directions come to him in dreams and visions. Once he begins his day's work (he told us he digs 18 hours a day), he knows how many centimeters he will dig, and in what direction.
When you enter Levon's Divine Underground, you descend on a staircase made of what appears to be soft clay. Levon digs the rooms without any support structure, a fact that sat uneasily in my mind, particularly when I considered that Armenia is earthquake-prone. Still, Levon has had thousands of visitors and no one has been buried alive yet.
This is the prayer room. Levon considers himself a religious man, though he usually spends his Sundays digging. After he had completed the room, he says, he realized it was the perfect place for people to make a wish. He asked which of us wanted to make a wish in the room, and then made the rest of us clear out into another room while each took her turn.