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Zaqatala

Yes, there’s been a veritable flurry of updates over the last hour – courtesy of the first decent internet connection this side of the Caspian! I did actually hear rumours of a decent spot in Seki last night although the place was inhabited by rabid thirteen-year-olds, so I gave them a good ol’ glare and headed on to the town square to sit and sip tea with the old folk.

So – scroll down and read what’s REALLY been going on when my expressions have not been limited to a small Nokia mobile phone screen.

And where might this pinnacle of electronic civilisation be, I hear you ask? Well, I’m here in the charming town of Zaqatala, which sounds as if it should be somewhere in the south of Mexico, but is, in fact, located just shy of the Georgian border here in the Azeri Caucasus.

Not much really going on in town – there’s the structural ghost of an old Russian orthodox church, plane trees supposedly planted over 700 years ago (since when were old trees guidebook-worthy?) and a few new, clean, sparkling mosques. BUT there is a Turkish pide restaurant, so we will have none of that tasteless sorpa nonsense tonight, thank you.

Tomorrow I’m off into the land of cheese pies and Georgian wine of questionable quality. Azerbaijan has been good to me – people here have been incredibly tolerant of my bad Russian, largely because nobody here actually speaks it any better than I do. The scraps of my Kyrgyz/Uzbek are helpful in bantering with the guys in the ice cream shops, but I don’t think I’ll be having too many in-depth conversations with a lexicon of around 9 words.

Highlight of the day was the trip from Seki to Zaqatala where I was befriended by an Imam.

“Don’t go to Armenia” he warned. “They are Christians. They fought many people in Karabakh.”

Despite my almost total lack of spoken Russian, I gathered that this chap was not entirely all there. He was adamant that I understood what he was saying about Allah being good and saving us all – but I couldn’t really engage in a noteworthy conversation. Kind of like the French exchange partner who opens the door to Jehovah’s Witnesses who keep him chatting in a one-way conversation for an hour or two.

So that was fun.

Anyway – enough of all that. More photos are up for your amusement.

 

 

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