This is part of the fifth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Georgia
13/5/99 A more serious crossing point with thorough check of documents. (1 hr 30 mins and no payment for insurance or entry) Despite being Muslims the rural Azerbaijanis dress the same as the Christian Georgians and Armenians, perhaps the skirt length is a little longer, no head scarf and women are about in the streets, unlike some other Muslim countries we have visited. Perhaps a hang over from the non sectarian USSR. After visiting two state run broken down hotels with no facilities (no running water, broken windows, no maintenance in 10 years) we found a small privately run hotel in Zakataly with hot water, Charlie's first shower in five days.
14/5/99 Rode the USSR planted, tree lined roads with walnut and hazelnut orchards fanning out to the hills. The almost deserted road to Mingechaur, a large city, full of refugees from the Garabagh conflict with Armenia. With little else to occupy their time we drew crowds not seen since India, friendly but insistent lookers, touchers, and fiddlers with the motorcycles. Despite there being no tourists to this area the idea that westerners can and should pay more is entrenched, budget travellers, as opposed to aid workers on expense accounts, have difficulty.
15/5/99 The conflict ended in 1994 but with tent cities
and now reed and mud houses covering large areas around Barda the effects
of the conflict are still reminders.
Small towns and villages are like garage sales with parts cannibalized from
old machinery and household goods displayed in the streets for sale. The
only safe currency, gold, kept as teeth, displaying prosperity and wealth.
While looking for a place to stay we were invited into the home of the local
restaurateur of a small village. This appeared not to be adequate for the
foreigners from Australia and we were passed up the line to the local dentists
house. Judging from the trimmings not all the gold ends up in teeth but some
is left for the manipulator. A very western view for a Muslim family with
strangers being invited into the family section of the house to sleep.
Move with us to Georgia
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