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Azerbaijan's border to Baku

AZERBAIJAN | Sunday, 29 July 2007 | Views [2254]

 The customs agents on the Az’s side were more concerned on check if my passport was fake than to check on my bags or bike. After checking my passport against the light and folding its page a 100 times, they told me: - Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Andre! Go! Go! Welcome! ...Andre? Well, there is a new player coming up everyday; plus, I’ve never been very good with names. Whoever he was, keep up the good work! Trough a narrow road fenced by white houses and small shops, I made my way trough the first km into Azerbaijan ‘till I spotted an internet café. I needed to check if my contact in Baku, Turkham, had answered my email and I urgently needed to send an email to Vicente, who would be sending me some money, as he was my newest sponsor. With four dollars, I had to manage getting to Baku, the capital where I would have access to a Western Union post. Spent an hour online and tried to get Turkham on the phone, but it was too early. Lunch time. Stopped at a bench on the shade and got my veggies and bread out to make a tasty sandwich. A taxi stops by and drops a man who sits by me, asks a few questions and later on we were playing soccer on the beach, swimming, drinking tea w/ his family, and spent a night on his sister’s house. His name was Roshan, a few years younger than me, married with a beautiful wife who took care of their two daughters. They lived together with his mother and father in a very big house. We sat under a grape ……… and had lunch. His friends and nephew came by to work in a group trying to communicate. His nephew, Ayaz, spoke a little English; however, by then, I was an expert on having conversations using gesture and lots of ohhh, yeahh, uuhh, ahhh, ya ya, ha ha ha, no no no.” We did fine; they understood who I was and what I was doing. I understood who they were and what they wanted me to do – eat, drink, talk about my ride, meet their friends, play soccer, and spent the night at their house. I understood and did it all. I stayed at Ayaz’s house because Roshan was working on the night shift. Met Ayaz’s family, had some snack, dinner, tea, exchanged some music; then, his mother screams: Ayaz! (some Azeri spoken) Andre, Bia, Brazil! He called me to go check something on the TV. I was sure it was some soccer thing, and I was about to know my new friend, Andre. I looked…mmm…some TV show…looked again…nothing special. A guy on the show says: Que isso ohhh! Traz uma cervejinha ai garcon! I couldn’t believe I had just heard portugues on a Azerbaijani TV. It was a Brasilian soap opera with Azeri language talked over the Portuguese. His mother wouldn’t move ‘till the commercial were on…just like in Brazil. Then, his mother went on a freaky fan mode and screamed Andreeeee! Pointing at the TV. And there he was, Andre, a character in a soap opera called Belissima. Soccer no longer had the spot light; it was shared with all the Brazilian soap opera that was brought to Azerbaijan. We had dinner and watched soap opera. The new one was over for today – not a problem. Change the channel and we started to watch a second-round of “O clone”, another BR soap opera. Back on the road the next morning, I planned to stop at Calilabad – 110km. Not very smooth, but beautiful roads, lots of trees, friendly people, and fast drivers. Pass by a police check point, stop to check direction and distance. As soon as I mentioned BR, he says: Ohhh, Brazil! Andre huh! Now I knew who he was and said: Bia huh! He looked very happy; we were both on the same page. Arrived in Calilabad before sunset, stopped at a shop to get some hot water for my coffee, talk to the locals, and ask for a place to set my tent. I was sent to a near by gas station. Set my mosquito net on a tree, slept on the open air; it was very nice if wasn’t for the rain. Next morning I was heading to my second out of three days to get to Baku. Around 25km later, I stopped at Bilasuvar to have my morning coffee with cookies; couldn’t buy cookies, they were given! The lady took my money and put it back on my jersey’s back pocket. Her neighbor, a fruit/veggie shop, laid a towel on the floor, placed bread, boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumber and tea. Where was I? Afghanistan, Iran? Was Azerbaijan going to take Iran’s first place? The sure had impressed me having lots of beautiful women…and they were not fully covered as in Iran…but it would have to do a lot better to surpass Iran’s reception. Azerbaijanis had been very kind to me so far. I couldn’t wait to see the rest of it. Got on the bike and continued on my 3rd day in AZ. The roads got a little better, but the fact it was completely flat and with no curves, it was getting a little boring. I couldn’t see a curve, a turn or the end of it; it was an endless straight flat road. The vegetation as low, rivers were not to be seen; the sea, gone; mountains, a light shadow of them could be seen on a far away distance. It was me, my bike, and that endless flat road. My compass kept showing I was heading west, but I remember the map showed I was supposed to go west for a while, then; back to northeast. Very little traffic, no wind, no animals, no bugs, no water, and the compass still showing west. I stopped and looked at my map…AHHHHHHHHHH! God damn it! Ya ya I know…everytime I don’t “listen” to my compass, I get screwed. The part on the map that showed going west was long gone the day before; the city I had tea and cookies was the place where the road split in two. I don’t remember seen any road split, and I’m sure that was no sign. I got spoiled in Iran with their roads and clear signs. I was about 30km away from Bilasuvar, where I made a mistake. Now, I had to decide if I would go back, continue and turn left on Imixli city and ride to Baku or forget about Baku and ride to Ganja, on the way to Georgia. Flipped a coin – Baku was out! Rode ‘till a found a roadside Kafe, and stopped to prepare my lunch. Spoke with some ppl at the Kafe who said that I wouldn’t find a Georgia embassy in Ganja – only in Baku. Baku was back in. Road to Imxli and then, Baku. Nice ride, better roads, lots of rivers, and lots of ppl swimming on the rivers. I was too eager to get to Baku, and still pissed about missing the road split. I rode hard to catch up on the wasted time…not really wasted, but just not in the right direction. After two days and 230km later, I arrived in Baku. Rode around the city for a while and stopped at a market that had a big sign: Republika Velotreki. Stopped and called Turkham. She told me to wait for her to come pick me up. I waited surrounded by ppl who would come to take pictures and try talking to me. One of the guys, from a near shop, comes with an Azerbaijan’s flag keychain, and hooks it to my bike – great! I already had my AZ’s souvenir. While talking to this guy, I saw that two beautiful girls were approaching…finally; I had been surrounded by men for the past 5 months. Well, I kept on talking to the guy…I was still in a muslin country and had just left Iran, so…I was still a little unsure about how open were the muslins in Azerbaijan. The girls stopped near me and asked: Are you Rodrigo? To be continued…

Tags: on the road

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