Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Silk Route Trip 2005 - Azerbaijan

When a mosque has two minaretts then the mosque is a Royal Mosque. A prince or a member of the royal family ordered the mosque to be built. Most mosques have only one minaret.

A cozy table for two, just sit and enjoy your tea. I liked apple tea best. It is called Alma Chai. Delicious !

Old buildings but the most modern telecommunication equipment and TV reception. Baku is a modern town.

You can buy all kinds of 'Antiques' here. Of course, they have carpets, too. All Azerbaijanees will tell you that their carpets are the best.

A large city, a modern city, an Oil city. Never mind that the country itself is poor, Baku is rich. The buildings, the roads, the cars all spell Oil Rich.

5/16/05 Mon Sheki, Azerbaijan rain
We started off in the rain and it kept raining all day. The rain makes the roads treacherous. A river, because of the heavy rain, spilled over its side and we had to ride alongside it and thru water for miles. Sometimes the water was a foot deep. Crossing the border into Azerbaijan was time consuming but ok. People were friendly and Azerbaijan, again, is a real change from Georgia. It seems quieter. Trees cover the roads and it makes riding serene, despite the rain. The main roads are fine, a bit like Russia. Not as many cars as in Georgia. Here I see a lot of horses, sheep, cows and goats being herded. It takes extra attention when riding thru those herds of animals. The area, so far, in AZ is pretty flat with lots of agriculture but not intense utilization of soil like in Germany, for example. Certainly it’s not as neat as in Germany. Still it has its own charm and feels very comfortable even so it looks ‘wild’. The rivers, too, run wild; very wide rivers with lots of channels and rocky (pebbles) areas in between the river-lets; with dirty water but natural looking. We went thru towns that were not huge. Yes a little Russian looking but not really.
Our overnight stay was again in a caravansary. Very unique! All caravansaries were ‘free’ for one night. There was one every 25 miles or so on the silk route. Taxes were charged at the border but for that all caravans had ‘free’ boarding for the camels and the crew. The Inn Keepers were supervised by Sultan appointed Ministers. An Inn Keeper needed a good reputation to keep his job. Caravans were so important that it was of the outmost important to keep caravans happy.

5/17/05 Tue Baku, AZ overcast, rain, fog
Riding was easy but the fog made us slow down to 1st gear and less than 20 miles/hr. We were crawling along rather then riding. I had to take off my goggles in order to see at all. It was very slow going.
Baku is all the way down the hill and now it’s the beginning of the desert. Goodbye green trees, bushes and grass. People are friendly enough albeit a bit on the Russian, suspicious side. My reading glasses broke; I do not have a spare pair. It’s a big mistake not to bring spares of what one needs. My goggles have reading sections in them so I can make due, still, how do I get new reading glasses?
Baku (Baki) all depends how you say it is a big city with confusing street layout. Baku is a business town, an oil town. A modern town full of cars and traffic lights, etc.
I have not heard anything about Turkmenistan; the next few days will be uncertainty for me. Turkmenistan is hanging over my head and I don’t like this feeling. Showing maps to people and asking for directions is of no use, they can not read. Or, they have never seen a map before. This is a very strange experience when people look at a map and you know they have no idea what that thing is. Forget explaining a GPS to them.

This memorial was errected for the benefit of all the people who died during the revolution to free Azerbaijan from the USSR regim.

5/18/05 Wed Baku, AZ Humid, hot
Today, we, again have a site seeing tour; a typical tour. Look at the city hall; look at the oldest mosque, etc. We see a nice view of the city from a hill; we see the cemetery of 200 fallen freedom fighters that died in the take over of AZ in 1989. They fought the Russians to get free and the cemetery is very clean and taken seriously. 8 million Azerbaijanis live in AZ but 40 million live in Iran. The borders are still a bit arbitrary and I wonder if in years to come they need to be aligned again to have all Azerbaijanis live in ONE country. Now everybody claims to be the best. People here claim to have the best carpets. I spoke to one Uzbek, he claims Uzbek carpets are the best. Kirill had a Coca Cola in Georgia and the people told him that this Coke is the best in the world. True Georgian Coca Cola! When Kirill asked why that is he was told that the water in Georgia is the BEST in the world. Everybody has to believe in something. These are the orphans I met.

I had a meeting today at 1 pm to get my passport back but now it’s 3.30 pm and I still don’t have my passport. It’s a ‘Manjana’ mentality here! The original visa for Uzbekistan should have been longer it would have avoided all this paper work. I had to ask this morning about my flight tomorrow. I still do not have an airline ticket; I still do not know where I am going. It’s total uncertainty! This is not a German running this paper work. It is also not good to have my kind of outlook on how this should have been handled. May I have your papers, please! What, no papers? Very, very stupid!
I seem to be stuck, can not even go back; I have no visa for Georgia or Turkey anymore.
Nice situation, right?

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