A Christian pilgrimage through the Caucasus, the supposed site of the great biblical flood and Noah’s landing after the water receded, wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Nakhchivan. This enclave of Azerbaijan is believed to be the place where Noah and his family had settled.

My recent trip to Nakhchivan brought back wonderful childhood memories of my Lolas (Grandmothers) in the Philippines. Growing up as a child, I’d spend my school vacations at my mother’s hometown with my Lolas. I was fortunate then to have three generations of Lolas living under one roof: my mother’s mother (Lola Betty), my Lola Betty’s aunt (Lola Ate), and my Lola Ate’s aunt (Lola Pila). All three Lolas were extremely devoted Christians.

Noah is a hero of the Christian faith; he was my Lolas’ hero. He was a faithful follower of God, as were my Lolas. I first heard about him from my Lolas. Noah’s story is a favorite story to tell to a Filipino child, or for that matter to a Christian child, when one wants to instill obedience and loyalty to God. It speaks of the power of God to bring on the flood to punish the wicked and sinful. My Lolas wanted to make me a good, God-fearing person, like Noah. Reflecting on the times I’d spent with them and the biblical stories they shared with me, filled me with nostalgia.

An unexpected, fervent reconnection with my Lolas was what I’d experienced during my visit to Nakhchivan. The ethereal landscapes of the region and the mystical Ilandag Mountain (with its cleft in the summit believed to have been clipped by Noah’s Ark as it navigated through the great flood) provided the perfect backdrop. I felt that they were with me in this journey. I yearned for their presence.

At Noah’s Tomb in Nakhchivan , I took a moment to speak to them. I said that I had no idea this place truly existed, and I bet they didn’t as well. Bowing my head towards Noah’s grave in Nakhchivan, I thanked my Lolas for cultivating my spiritual life, for without it, I wouldn’t have made it here.