Ash's Azer Adventure

Hello everyone! The following is my blog about my 27 month trip to Azerbaijan working with the Peace Corps. I am a part of the 4th group sent to Azerbaijan and am in the Community Economic Development (CED) Program working with local companies to help them operate better in the world. Hopefully I’ll have some fun stories and cool pictures from traveling around Asia Minor and Eastern Europe. This blog is in no way related to the Peace Corps or their opinions. I hope you all enjoy…

Friday, March 21, 2008

One Whacky Day

Bethany came down to visit over the Novruz Holiday, and instead of lounging around my house all week, we decided we needed a little adventure. Azerbaijan is one of only a few countries that have natural gas running under the ground that causes a phenomenon known only as MUD VOLCANOES!!! (I think this is all correct) I mean how cool does that sound? We thought it sounded cool enough to go try to check them out. Sadly, as much of a push as they have going here for tourism, one of their most unique offerings isn’t documented well and you are at the mercy of the locals to find them. We found out from some friends and an AZ guide book that they have some in a little town on the train route from Lankaran to Baku.

So we packed up snacks, warm clothes, and head lamps and took the night train from Lankarn to Elet. I should have known it was going to be a fun trip when the guy at the train ticket office said he would write Baku on our train tickets and we could just tell the guy that manages our sleeping wagon we were getting off in Elet. Well we told him that, he said “I will be asleep and I don’t know what time we will get there.” THANK YOU SIR! Well thankfully a guy in our cabin said he can’t sleep on the train (another missed bad sign) and would wake us up. Well I estimated we would get there around 4:45am-ish so I set my alarm for 4:15 to be safe. I woke up a little before 4 because the non-sleeper was snoring/making really gross sounds that woke and kept me up. He got up and walked around at 4:10 when our train stopped. He didn’t come say anything, so I just stayed in bed a little longer assuming that was not our stop. I got up about 10 minutes later to use the facilities and turns out, yup, we just passed out stop. I got Bethany up and we got off at the next stop 40km away. GREAT start to the day, I know.

We hung out at the train station until the sun started coming up and hopped a cab back to our original destination, or so we thought. The taxi driver said he knew where we were MVs were and would drop us right next to the hill we had to climb 2km outside of town. This is despite the fact we told him the MVs were near the train station. We went into a roadside tea house (basically a plywood room in the middle of nowhere) to warm up, drink tea, and get ready to start hiking. Well two guys at the tea house said there were no mud volcanoes on the hill we pointed to, we needed to take a bus 8 km father away from town. So we waited for a random bus they put us on and away we went. The driver stops a few minutes later, says get out, and just points at a hill in the distance and says climb. No go left, up, right, front side, backside or anything, just climb. So we just stated walking. We saw some rocks that looked weird from a distance and had high hopes only to find nothing. Then we saw some orange flags marking something on the other side of a big dip in the side of the hill. When we got to the top of that ridge and heard barking when Bethany points to a pack of 4-5 dogs hauling ass straight at us. She asked if we should be worried, and me, being the dog lover, said “nope”. After they got closer, weren’t slowing down, were getting louder, and looking a lot bigger than I thought, I changed my mind and we started walking away from them quickly without looking at them while I tried to decide how I was going to handle a pack of dogs attacking me and getting Bethany away from it. Not a fun situation to be in I can assure you. Thankfully the dogs all stopped on the ridge and didn’t chase us any farther than that. Needless to say, after that we were a little leery of continuing our climb up, so we kinda walked away from the dogs along the same elevation of the hill. After a while, with no MVs in site, we headed for the road and caught a random mini-bus back to our original town destination.

Once we got there we asked a cop at the train station how to find the MVs close to town. He said just go down to the corner, wait for a cab, tell him MVs, and they are only 3-4km up the hill behind the train station. Of course they are! So we waited for a cab, and waited, and waited. Elet is a small town with taxi population one it seemed. We waited an hour until a guy we gave a match to for his cigarette called a cab for us. We that driver didn’t know how to get there, so he asks another guy on the side of the road who says he’s been there and just hops in to join our adventure. After taking one wrong turn and asking directions once, we finally get to the summit and MUD VOLCANOE CITY! They just bubble/gurgle/burp mud that flows down these mud/earth cone shaped hills about 15-20 feet tall. So we laughed, checked them all out, touched the mud, and took pictures for about 20 minutes, then headed down to the main road to hitch hike for buses home around 11:30ish. We did all of that before freaking 11:30 am! Top that off with jam packed bus rides home and when I get home finding out my camera didn’t work and I have no pictures to show anyone and the day was a complete success if I’ve ever seen one!


Post a Comment

<< Home