Azerbaijan and the Caucuses

I arrived in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, after a 12 hour overnight ferry ride across the Caspian Sea. The crossing was uneventful but a bit chaotic trying to get through immigration with 70 people. I was stuck behind a group of about 40 Turkmen and the line was just not moving. I stood on the dock for an hour and moved one foot. Finally I got bored so I took out my video camera and started filming, temporarily forgetting that I was at an international border crossing and cameras are verboten. Sure enough, a border guard called me over and made me show him what I had filmed. Not happy, he made me erase most of it. At least I killed another twenty minutes. I explained I was just bored waiting. My impatience paid off: a few minutes later they called me to the front of the line, ahead of the Turkmen.┬áIn no time I was through customs and on my way. The lesson is clear: if you aren’t happy, make a nuisance of yourself. People will appease you just so you will shut up and go away.

Here is a shot I took of the line before the police saw me.

It rained a lot in Baku while I was there so not many photos. Here are some shots of the old city.

A view of the Government House from my hotel window.

After Baku I finally started riding again. Here are some views of the road as I headed west towards Georgia.

Few roads I have ever seen equal the beauty of US 41 from Laurium to Copper Harbor, Michigan. This scenic bit of road comes a distant second.

I finally camped out again after a long break. But instead of dry desert I got morning dew. Everything was soaked.

I met this girl and her babushka in a small village in western Azerbaijan. They took pity on me and gave me nuts, apples and pears.

I took these pix in the border town of Balakan.

Talk about washing your dirty laundry in public.

An arch named after the president.

The president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aleyev. How would you like to see photos like this of George W. Bush on every street corner?

The Complex Caucuses

The Caucasus is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on Earth. The nation-states that comprise the Caucasus today are the post-Soviet states Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The Russian divisions include Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, and the autonomous republics of Adygea, Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan. Three territories in the region claim independence but are not acknowledged as nation-states by the international community: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. More on the Georgian conflict next post. For the record, I am currently in Tbilisi. See the location on the map.