An American in Baku
Heartlifting Oni Story by Seafoam. This is their fuel: Bloodborne walkthrough and guide Playing with PS Plus? Holstaurus Monster Girl Adventure 2: It is suggested that he may have actually hastened the old man's death.
Out in the middle of nowhere. My God, I might be the only American some people are ever exposed to. Loli-Oni series  by harblador. The Last Hour by Anon. Of course, I have Dana and Madeline to thank since I survived off of their awesome Russian skills, and I hope that future ETAs will be able to bond over seeing the Iranian border and surviving weird social moments. A Manticore For Christmas by Bollocks.
Chewie roaring and then the porg roaring immediately after is officially the best moment in Star Wars history. I have watched this little Porg squawk about 70 times now. Just go ahead and give me the Chewy and Porg buddy cop film announcement already. They are friends, he is not eating them, they are pals and they go on adventures right? This could very well be the meme that ends all memes.
Stop pretending you hate Porgs. They're your favourite thing in fact. Porg Porg Porg Porg. Yeah, so, imma need a porg riding one of these into battle, cool?
The Last Jedi flies into theaters on December 15th. Calling it a Public Debt is a misnomer, it was the politicians that created it.
Secondly — Did anyone have insurance? Where are the insurance companies???? Thirdly — Where are all those billionare liberals, and the Hollywood liberals?? They should be donating and putting on relief concerts. Crisis averted, we drove back north to see a few more points of interest. Ehmed saved the day again when he hopped into the taxi and rushed to find matches when none of us had a lighter.
He hustled back through the rusty gate and whipped out a match:. Hahaha, is it, now? But I was willing to submerge parts of my body at our next stop: Set off a ways in the Talysh hills, Istisu is a collection of natural hot springs that serve as a natural healing spa for tourists Ehmed informed us that many Iranians come here every year.
Now for the actual town. The events described above occurred on the second day of our trip. Legend has it that Stalin was imprisoned in this tower. He escaped and sailed across the Caspian to safety. Lankaran is a tiny town, so we saw the main areas within a few hours.
Off we went, heading in the general direction of the Caspian…. Passed by some military bases of some sort. Crossed the train tracks. It was challenging to find a road that led to the beach. We finally made it, but were discouraged at its condition:. Azerbaijan is slowly developing its tourism industry outside of Baku, it will just take time. Blame it on cultural differences, language barriers, maybe the local quirks of people clashed with our quirks…whatever the reason, we experienced the following awkward interactions:.
Especially tasty when paired with plov , or rice. Long story short, we were ripped off. The chicken was small, and the rice was old. The next day we went to a different restaurant and ordered the same thing.
It was MUCH better in terms of quality and for the price. Me making a disgusted sound: Just then music blasted from the kitchen downstairs. Like, it was WAY louder than our talking level, and much ruder to the other guests he referred to.
This is VERY loud! I wanted to lurch forward and strangle him. They did call us a taxi, which thankfully came a minute later, but which ended up being another strange interaction….
We established the fare with our driver and settled in the car Note: It totally caught us off-guard, and all we could do was laugh at his outburst as he pouted. Sir, do you want me to pay you? The next morning we were on our way to Astara and the other places I talked about above. Since we were leaving the city, and going close to Iran, we wanted our passports. But this manager treated it too casually and took his sweet time to make scans.
When we asked him about our passports that second morning, he blew us off and made some crappy jokes in Russian. There we stood in the office, anger simmering in each of us — at least in me. If you know me, you can imagine how annoyed I got by this dude.
He looked up and sighed, grabbed our passports, and rushed out the hotel. He came back a few minutes later with the originals and scanned copies. Of course, I have Dana and Madeline to thank since I survived off of their awesome Russian skills, and I hope that future ETAs will be able to bond over seeing the Iranian border and surviving weird social moments.
With just over a month left, things are winding down here in Azerbaijan in terms of my teaching responsibilities. Walking on the beach. If only some money was dedicated to cleaning it up and taking care of it. It would be so much nicer…. So there you go, another little taste of Azerbaijan. If you want to see them in a larger size with descriptions, click on the first one for a slideshow. Gergeti church, perched atop of a little mountain peak, was the goal during our day trip to Kazbegi for more information on Kazbegi, click here.
Dana said the views were to die for, and the trek up and down the substantial hill would take just the right amount of time for an entertaining, semi-strenuous day hike. We did not make it to the church.
First, paths were not clearly marked. And third, we almost died by cows. Picture the three of us at the bottom of a big hill, right outside a little village. Our eyes scanned the surrounding landscape. We started heading up, and, to our dismay, it was much harder than it looked from afar. We watched them slip and slide while we caught our breath, panic suddenly settling in as more cows appeared and dotted the hillside. There we stood, balanced precariously on mud and slabs of gray sheet rock, desperately trying to avoid the onslaught of cows lumbering down the steep hill.
Their slim ankles and bony knees hardly looked fit enough to handle their girth, and I imagined their joints buckling and heaving them down the hill on top of us. It is SO hard to move quickly with precarious footing at a steep incline as panic surges through your body.
We shuffled over to the left, half the cows headed in that direction. We moved over more to get to grass, hoping for better footing. Apparently the cows were looking for that too. I know, deep down, that cows are harmless creatures.
The animal must be pretty passive and relaxed to allow a human to collect milk from it everyday, and it was one of the first domesticated animals in human history.
But we definitely fed the fire of fear as we each flipped out. We scurried down the hill, absolutely scared to death picture the characters in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: We reconvened and tried to find our sanity, all the while nervously glaring at the cows as they meandered past us toward the village.
We waited until we were sure no more cows would come, and we gave the hill a second try. We made it much further, but, as I mentioned earlier, still failed. A minute taxi ride away from Kutaisi is Gelati Monastery.
This is one of my personal favorites out of the whole trip. Since this post is forever long anyway, here is a link that describes more history of the Bagrati and Gelati structures: Next phase of the trip: Batumi, a city right on the Black Sea coast. In the summer, Batumi is THE place to be — full of tourists, lots of fun.
In March, spring had just arrived so although it was occasionally chilly, it was still enjoyable. It actually reminded me of the off-season back home in West Michigan, an area overflowing with tourists in the summer, and still as still can be in the winter. And there you have it, an entire week of travel in ONE post.
Venture out and experience the greater Caucasus…take in the mighty vistas, appreciate the spirituality of the region…. His name is commonly spelled like this in our alphabet: I knew about Mr. The only way to get to Nakhchivan from mainland Azerbaijan is by plane. This meant that when the Soviet Union ceased to be, he had powerful friends but also plenty of enemies in Baku. He actually died in Cleveland, OH while undergoing care for heart issues.
Here is a short biography for more info: Below are just a handful of examples:. George Washington is an easy example. On the other hand, there are also benefits of bringing in new blood to diversify the political scene. But I gotta hand it to him, he was a man who lived through tumultuous times and got Azerbaijan on its feet.
News article dated from December, How ridiculous , I thought, explore your own country! However, I must reprimand myself — how many places in MY country — even home state — have I failed to see thus far? I alluded in Part I that the only way to get to these villages is by hiring an experienced driver. Some taxis, I think, can take you but they probably prefer doing that in warmer months. We did this in January.
We had him for both day trips, which cost about 40 manat per day 20 manat per person. We trucked around in this Soviet-era beauty:. Our guide offered to stop occasionally for pictures. Those are frozen waterfalls. But it was business as usual for the people living there.
Kids were leaving school, the men and women were hard at work maintaining the household. We did get a few perplexed glances, Why are you here now? Come back in April or something. Himself, his wife, and his mother beamed at us with rosy cheeks while I clumsily thanked them in Azeri.
Also loved it when they talked to each other in their own language. I appreciate when people recognize that America has great diversity amongst its languages and cultures, but we forget that diversity exists everywhere — including the small Caucasus countries. The sign, interestingly enough, was in Azeri and English. Captivated by this frozen waterfall. Also concerned about how to get around it…. But we got around it okay…until some school boys started throwing rocks at us.
Boys will be boys everywhere! Every house was carefully pieced together with materials found in the area, so no wood. The occasional glass window, a checkered wall panel, or bright splash of color certainly caught my attention:. This is their fuel: Talk about completely self-reliant and not wasting a thing! Are you sure that is a real place?
Surely I must have been somewhere else, surely I must be confused. For this day trip we had the same driver plus his brother. He must have tagged along for moral support, it was quite snowy and disorienting.
Actually, we stopped there with the intention of going no further. I see that this is a tourist trap. I am not paying you to take me to a ski resort, sir, I want to go see the village. Take me there at once! I searched for words…. A few minutes later we were back on the treacherous path, barreling over mounds of snow.
But, my God, we made it! We hopped out of the vehicle on slightly wobbly legs and became more dazed by the intensity and volume of the white snow. So I had a tinge of culture shock. Except when I fell because of the ice…which I did about 10 times.
A highlight of visiting Laza was seeing a bit of the mountain pastoral lifestyle. We saw sheep and horses being taken to water…. And a puppy that freaking loved me…. We all know how bleak and tiresome life seems as we struggle through endless winter. But seeing winter in a different place, away from Baku, really enlivened it for me. Laza is beautiful even in January…. We experienced another round of unconditional hospitality that afternoon. After getting lost no surprise there and managing to ask where the market was located, we stumbled through the snow to meet our drivers about 15 minutes past our agreed-upon time.
A group of men were around the car, probably asking why they made the treacherous journey into the village. One gentleman invited us to his home for lunch and tea. After warming up with homemade soup, plov a local rice dish , and especially-tasty tea it must be the water… , we were back on the road. It was so touching that we really want to go back this spring, not only to see Laza again but to support his business. I love Baku and appreciate all it has to offer, but if you ever make it to Azerbaijan, I really encourage you to get to the regions.
It takes some gumption to figure out the logistics, but the regions are the heart of country. A week after I returned from Hong Kong described at great length in these posts: I call her fabulous for a few reasons: Asking for directions, talking with our guides, and handling our somewhat crazy hotel manager usually demanded Russian. There are a few options to get around the regions in Azerbaijan, the most common are taxis and buses.
We decided to take a bus to Quba and grabbed a taxi on our return home. We tried to navigate our way around but ended up having to ask where to purchase tickets. The counters are on the lower level behind a cafeteria. We looked at the lists taped by each window for Quba, and finally found one. For our ticket there, it cost some obscure amount like 2. We hustled up a few flights of stairs to catch our It seemed that we off set a delicate gender balance. We started to sit in one section but the driver waved us toward the very back corner.
After everyone settled, I saw a pattern: Since Dana and were latecomers, we had to go in the back. On similar bus travel in Turkey i. Turns out Azerbaijan has a similar policy. If you find yourself in a similar situation, when in doubt, just do as you are told! After a frantic online search, we found another one called Otel Oskar Oskar Hotel:. We got a double room with our own bathroom for 30 manat a night 15 manat per person. We were dropped off at a nice bus station. Naturally, we had no clue where we were in relation to the map in the guide book.
Friends, heed my advice: Make sure your destination is written down and grab a taxi for a few manat. In the end, we concluded that the bus took us to a newer bus station that was built after the book was published. The book indicated that the only central bus station in Quba was located in the middle of many things, but all we saw was open space:. We walked for a good hour before we hit the city center, and then wandered for another hour or so before we found Otel Oskar, which I described above.
We figured out the hotel room, dealt with the hotel manager more about that at the end of this post , and headed out for more exploring. We walked through the Jewish quarter of Quba, which is home to the largest Jewish community in Azerbaijan. I could see myself as a Peace Corps volunteer here. What also made him happy was insisting we sit in the office to drink tea and chat, probably so that he could show off the two American blondes to whoever visited him. And Fuad was a busy guy, so we met many people.
In classic Azerbaijani-style hospitality, he made sure to let us know that we could ask him and the other workers for anything whenever we wanted. A boy, maybe twelve years old, scrambled up the stairs into the office. I almost lost my composure and suppressed my giggles. But tea boy was just the start. Fuad was SO hospitable and kind, he wanted to play matchmaker…or something. We have nothing to hide, so we told the truth: He asked our ages.
Should we have had more tact? Perhaps, but it was hard to follow his wandering rabbit trails, and he dropped those inquiries in the middle of a rant. Our whole trip depended on him! So when two tax inspectors came to the office during our second night there, we went along with the flow, perfectly used to the drama that hovered around Fuad.
During our second or third cup of tea we were informed that the tax inspectors wanted to treat us to dinner. When did this exchange happen? Basically, we were set up, and of course I was very unhappy about this. But, to guarantee that we had a ride for our village trip the next day, we figured we had to be kind. So we grimaced through dinner with these two tax guys who spoke no English or Russian even though one of them affirmed that he spoke English when I asked him.
I was over it at that point, and angry at myself for getting into such an awkward situation. First, just look at it:. Walking on the perimeter, this is the front of the Main Building, right by all the fun things in Baku. ASEU actually has three or four campuses throughout the city. This is one of them. As you can see, Azerbaijan and the USA have a close, friendly relationship:.
Unlike professors at any American university, teachers here are rarely guaranteed personal work space. I, on the other hand, am extremely fortunate: I can use the office printer too, a luxury. Yet I end up taking my work to-do list home most evenings. Then I give them Russian candy, because what better way can I show my gratitude except through a sweet? Impromptu Azeri language lessons occur between me and colleagues regularly, and I hear the occasional request to proofread a letter or edit a blurb.
I also do it to see their reactions, sometimes baffled and amused, sometimes that classic deer-in-the-headlights look. Anyway, back to the tour. ASEU and several other Russian-inspired i. It was something I wondered about in the back of my mind, but I assumed it was the result of bad city planning. It was a stupid assumption.
And that is exactly what happened:. The Russian Empire, and later the Soviet Union, wavered between two opinions as it dealt with Azerbaijan and its other territories: Or should some allowances of cultural autonomy be practiced? This should give you something to think about….
I asked what the girls were taught, and it sounds like a combination of home and practical skills like reading and writing. For some reason, I thought about those young women multiple times in the week leading up to the start of the spring semester.
The inspirational quotes were added over winter break. I can translate one for you. I like sharing such a title with those great people. I teach conversational English to several groups of students that meet with me once a week.
Those groups of students are also fluid, meaning that I see new faces weekly, others drop out forever, and some attend when they feel like it like stopping by for the last half of class. I like having that freedom, and I think they appreciate the change of pace. I work in two different conference rooms.
This one is on the top floor in the Honors section. And this one is right next to the IRO, on the lowest level. I hold my conversation clubs here. There you have it, a little taste of ASEU. When my friend Esther visited , I made sure to give her a tour.
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A game of cat and mouse by Nyanon. There we stood in the office, anger simmering in each of us — at least in me. On similar bus speed dating slidell in Turkey i. Bath with Leona by Fizzshire. Hungover Minotaur-chan by Matchmakimg.
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