The course of events in Iran has gained momentum. The twists were in a direction inversely proportional to my assumptions, but that's how it is, if you travel professionally. Stories from northern Iran will be in the book. I still have hope, that I will finish it, and you will want to read it.
There was a big false start with entering Azerbaijan. Shortly before the official start of the Novrooz holidays, i.e. the feast of spring and the start of the Lord's new year, wait, Persian new year 1397 in Iran, I found myself at the border town of Astara on the Caspian Sea. I was going to evacuate myslef from Iran before the celebrations started. They last indefinitely, i.e. around two weeks, as you can see, they cannot be even equal to our Christmas in combination with New Year's Eve. Well, now as if to add the Three Kings, maybe maybe.. . In any case, the people of Persia indulge in mass travel, everything is closed, hotels full and roads crowded. Maybe it should, but somehow it didn't excite me at all. Novrooz is a spring festival, begins therefore ...? Yep, bingo, 21 of March. 17 I was in Astara on March, and the day before I applied for an Azeri visa online. I didn't rush it, because all the information previously obtained was clear, that the e-visa is granted quickly and hassle-free.
I actually, was in my mailbox the next day. With one small piece of information, which worried me a bit.
Entry to Azerbaijan was determined not earlier than 29 of March. The description also explains, that the delay is due to the New Spring Year's celebrations, although they officially began in 4 days. Do not know, whether they closed the border and generally how it was related to travelling to Azerbaijan, but it meant it, that I had to stay in Iran for a good week and a half. I was, nearly there. Fortunately, thank God and inshallah! – I still had an Iranian visa valid for 2 more weeks, otherwise I would be properly fucked.
I slowly digested this information while lying in a tent in a city park with a view of the border guard tower. It rained, so I stayed there two nights and all day. I did not want to roll up the tent and I had enough food and reading and a toilet with water was nearby. It was neither dangerous nor unusual – in the same park, and on almost every free patch of grass or concrete, tents of traveling Iranians were spread here and throughout the country, so mine didn't stand out anyway, though I hid it a little bit anyway.
The tent is inscribed in the Iranian landscape during Nowruz, he is ingrown into it, nothing special. Iranians travel and the state organizes tent villages for them, which are to support celebrating-traveling citizens. Children were running next to the tents, skewers were roasting and water bubbling for tea. It wasn't a good idea to stay there for more then a week though, So I decided ... Not, jestem wredna i nie zdradzę co było potem 😉
When I entered Azerbaijan, I left the Middle East and entered Caucasus. One stage is over, started another. Eurasia, borderline between Asia and Europe. Great curiosity. For a good few days I did not remove my headscarf from my head, although no one here requires any longer covering the hair or feminine shapes . I would add, I wore long trousers and a sleeve until the end of the trip in Istanbul. This outfit really helps with solo female travel.
The road along the coast of the Caspian Sea was a balm for my senses. First of all, it is nice to cycle along water , even the lake was called the sea as in this case, secondly - suddenly there was silence. Annoying and throating motorbikes and their owners have disappeared as if with a wave of the magic wand. Like deja-vu from the Lao border- Vietnamese - with that, that it worked the other way there - from Laotian silence I fell into Vietnamese chaos. The road turned into a highway, but it went well. After five days with a break to explore mud volcanoes and petroglyphs, I was in the capital of the country.
Most Azerbaijani residents at least officially profess Islam, although the Russification of the country has done its hardly anyone cares about religion. alcohol? Pork? No problem.
Baku on oil and natural gas has grown, and it shows. Apparently, it will last for many years.
Cool city. When you get out of the crazy center, it's very post-Soviet homely.
How to travel is only in the clinic in Baku! I got a double room. First thought, which came to my mind once it came to me, that I will stay here some time, and . what will I eat here. I will associate the hospital with poor food in small quantities. And I am alone. No family or friends will come. I will starve, like nothing.
In the meantime I was getting tasty, hearty meals, I could not eat bread.
But, but – what I did in the hospital? The day before my trip, my knee hurt. It somehow hurt strangely, subcutaneously, not deep. We all know, that as soon as the cyclist tugs with his knee, it is a grave, will talk all his life. But I didn't leave. I'm dropping gears, when it's too hard, I don't wrestle and when I can't ride I get off the bike and drive.
The whole next day I was hanging around the city like crazy. The knee hurt more and more. There was a small pimple on it, but there was red erythema around her. I scratched a little. In the morning it was half-spilled and I could barely get up from bed. It stopped me from pain. Is a photo, then it was only worse.
Phone number to the insurer. Reporting a case. I get an address to the clinic. closeby, but I can't walk, just a taxi. I can barely breathe in pain. The nice doctor says Infection, we leave you here in the hospital.
– for how long?
– At least 3 days
I stayed six. To this day, I do not know where it came from this infection. But I know, you have to insure yourself when traveling, although sometimes some people say otherwise. Similarly “they never get sick”. I didn't get sick until then. Over the next two months I used the health insurance four times. The whole treatment did not cost me a penny.
And here is a digression about travel insurance. Firstly – należy je mieć rzecz jasna. Secondly – potrzebę pomocy należy jak najprędzej zgłaszać do ubezpieczyciela, preferably before taking any action on your part. Wtedy to oni prowadzą sprawę. Best too, when the insurer will direct you to a specific institution, najczęściej wtedy idzie bezkosztowo. Of course, in case of - knock on - emergency, loss of consciousness etc.. this may not be possible, but remember this rule. Something is happening to health, doctor needed - phone number to insurer. I will give you a case number, will most likely indicate a facility, with whom he has a contract. The insurer must also agree to do one or other examination, must recognize, that they are right and performed under first aid not because we want to. I had a follow-up visit in the hospital afterwards, the cost he no longer wanted to cover, fortunately, nobody wanted money from me. I have heard of many successes in travel insurance, I also had some minor problems myself. Each case is different, but some of the problems result from the insured's failure to comply with the procedures required by the insurer. A friend of mine came to the hospital with stomach problems in one distant country on another continent, after more than a week of treatment it was not better, therefore he bought a ticket and returned to Poland, because he stated, it will be better this way. After the fact, he applied for a refund. He did not know, that in this case not only the cost of treatment, but also a ticket to Poland was on the insurer's side – gdyby to on zadecydował, ze transport jest konieczny (when the treatment is prolonged, an insurer is often more profitable to bring a delinquent to the country). As far as I know the cost of the ticket has not been refunded.
– Please, be happy, that it happened to you in Baku. Brave cyclist on the wide road - The doctor said goodbye to me. Take care of this knee, use ointment and if something is calling! Before she let me out, liters of antibiotics were poured into me.
During the week on my second bed in the room, a different female patient was placed every day. Each of them came to the clinic for one day for in vitro fertilization. Most of the six women, I met, the twenty-thirty-year-olds were telling, that this is the last chance to save the marriage. The child is the basis, without children, marriage is pointless - the husband will leave, will find another one, which will give him children. It is difficult not to tie it with Islamic traditions. In those few square meters of room on the first floor of Merkazi Clinic, there was nervousness in the air, fear, despair and hope.
Shhh ... Don't say the name. Let's say "country on A ..". Joanna warned me, a Pole, who has lived in Baku for several years, when I told her about my future plans. Armenia. This word is not pronounced in Azerbaijan. I've been living here almost 4 years and I haven't been there yet. If I went to Armenia I would be out of work the same day. Maybe I'll go when my contract ends. Now that's out of the question.
Xojali. Monuments to the victims of the massacre in (Khojaly) are in every city. Large, expressive, photos of victims giving a blow to the head. In the village of Khojaly located in the current Nagorno-Karabakh (Arcach) - unrecognized country, the lands occupied by the Armenians as the Azerbaijani say – at the beginning of the war in 1992 years died over 600 Azerbaijani civilians. At the hands of Armenians, probably also Russians.
– They bring even six-year-old children to the films about the massacre. They plant hate in them since birthJoanna.
Never before have I encountered such vividly expressed hatred between nations more than in the Caucasus. That's probably why, that the memory is still alive and the war continues.
I cycled through Khojaly a few weeks later on the same road, where these people died.
And now digression number two. Traveling in the Caucasus should be remembered, that the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Armenia and Turkey (ally of Azerbaijan) is closed. Logistically, it is extremely important, because in this small area wanting to visit the three countries of the Caucasus - Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, the journey through Georgia or Iran remains. The war over Nagorno-Karabakh is not over. Although, I can still see this information on the first googling of the name of the country or Wikipedia on travel forums, how many people happily plan travel routes in the Caucasus assuming crossing these borders. People still amaze me, who come to some region of the world without elementary knowledge about it. Search engine is our ally. We will save ourselves logistical mishaps, and we will also show respect to the inhabitants of the region. Better yet, of course, before reading, read two articles and preferably a few books in the subject. Below is my route map in Azerbaijan – see the limits. There is no Arcach on Google maps, or Nagorno-Karabakh. Below is a map showing the current state of the countries in the Caucasus region.
At the end of April, summer arrived for good. The green has exploded with redoubled power and the colors change in all cases: green hills, grass up to the waist, the leaves on the trees are also super-green, rapeseed is yellow, purple lilac, Red poppies, white fragrant linden and jasmine (linden and jasmine are already blooming!) and snow caps on the Caucasian peaks. 400 km from Baku to the border with Georgia via Sheki are relentless hills and laps, pushes and reunions.
At dusk, as soon as I set up my tent, the nearby brushwood comes alive. Howl, nightmarish and stabbing, I do not know what is it, what animal is this, sounds bleak, ominously, awfully. Howls like damned souls. And it is very very close. You don't know this sound? You movie from Youtube, you can listen.
“These are jackals” says the old guardian on the farm, where I get in the evening and ask about the possibility of setting up the tent. “Do not be afraid, they are not dangerous and they will not come here.. my dogs won't let them come”. And what do they eat? I ask unconvinced and immediately google “is the jackal dangerous to humans”. And what they will find there.. Wolves.. there are a lot of wolves here, too, it shows wooded slopes. Sometimes I shoot myself” he says, drinking vodka for dinner and breakfast.
Azerbaijan is such a Muslim country, alcohol is always in stores, milk and cheese not necessarily.
Well, post-Soviet historical legacy.