Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is pretty hot - 34 degrees today and barren.  This is what we've seen for most of the day-




Turkmenistan is the fourth largest gas producing nation in the world.  Diesel costs $.20/litre and the people get natural gas for free.  They use their ovens to heat their homes in the winter -


The scenery doesn't really change-


This is a gigantic cemetery.  The sticks seem to be the grave markers-


More scenery-


We stopped at a roadside kafe and I tried what I thought was coconut water.  Not.  It was camel's milk.  Not my favourite!


There are miles and miles and miles of......

This type of detouring happens often along the highway-




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea with a couple of oil platforms in the distance-


The boat is a POS, probably 40 + years old.  Our cabin sleeps 4.  Luckily we have a window that opens and the breeze is excellent-


The toilet is disgusting.  The toilet paper goes in the large red garbage can or it will plug the toilets and flood the room.  There is no toilet seat.  The flush button is on the back of the toilet and you literally have to punch it really hard to get it to flush.  Only the odd person flushes so...........


We're on the ferry, slowly rocking, rocking, rocking.  We can see land but the boat dropped anchor about 8 tonight and we're waiting, again.

Around 1 am , we heard the chains of the anchor starting to pull it up.  We were awakened about 2 and then gathered in the foyer of the ship and guess what?  We waited and waited.  Most people lay down on the floor to sleep.  About 5:30 am we lined up for customs and by 8 this morning, we were on the road.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Baku, Azerbaijan

The wind blew all night and a few of us had difficulty taking our tents down.  At least there weren't any barking dogs during the night!

This is quite a load of hay!  While I had my camera out the window to take this picture, we passed some police.  They put their siren on because you're not supposed to take pictures of them, but I think maybe they realized what I was taking a picture of, so they just waved-


We tried to visit some petroglyphs but they weren't open yet, so rather than wait and possibly miss the ferry, we continued on to Baku.  

Along the way, we had our first flat tire.  Changing it was a real team effort so we were on the road in no time!



Azerbaijan is a very oil rich country.  This platform is just off the shore of Baku-


These pump jacks are in the city as well-


We arrived in Baku at 11 and parked at the port.  The truck immediately cleared customs and we were told we could buy our tickets at 2.  This seemed too good to be true!  2 o'clock came and went.  We waited.  Then, we had to register with our passports, then wait some more for the ticket office to open.  Around 5, the ticket man showed up and told us we were at the wrong port and maybe there would be a ferry tomorrow.  Will took a taxi to another port to check it out and returned with the news that we were definitely at the right place.  And the waiting continued.....
Soon the same ticket man showed up at the truck with a tape measure.  This was a good sign because they charge by the length of the vehicle and per person.  His story had changed and now he knew that a ferry was coming around 10 pm.  We were now able to buy our tickets and wait.....  some more.......



We had supper - (Dave and I made our famous pesto pasta) and sat around drinking beer and waiting.........  Fifty yards from the truck was a small shop, constructed from half a shipping container.  We made many trips back and forth for beer!

Around midnight we were able to board the boat.  We found our cabins and went to bed, preparing for a 20 hour trip across the Caspian.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sheki, Azerbaijan

There are numerous food stalls along the highway.  Melons-


Cold drinks and cooked corn-


As well as halvasi- candy which is made from peanuts, honey, sesame flour and whatever else they might add-


You never know what else you might have to slow down for-


There are billboards of the President everywhere-



There are huge entrance gates like this to cities.  This is the one at Sheki-


We visited the Khan Palace in Sheki, the summer home, which was built in 1797 but recently remodelled-


More intricate wood work on the exterior of the palace-


The stained glass windows are set in wooden latticework, without nails or glue.  This is Marianne in front of one of the beautiful windows-


There are many artisans in Sheki.  Hat makers-


and silversmiths-


Here are some other colorful shops-



This is a typical street scene-


Leaving Sheki, this is the scenery along the way.  It's a very dry climate!



Our next stop was at some mud volcanoes.  They are very weird, in fact, it seemed like we were on a different planet!


They bubble!


And cold mud flows down the sides-


Oil oozes out of the ground-


And there are pipelines everywhere!


Here is our bushcamp for the night-


Tomorrow, we're off to Baku to catch the ferry for Turkmenistan!








Saturday, July 26, 2014

Georgia to Azerbaijan

Today was a driving day, from northern Georgia into Azerbaijan.  I'm glad we weren't going to Tehran-


Along the way, Will stopped to help this gentleman who had apparently run out of fuel.  Notice the cigarette dangling from his mouth as he filled his jerry can-


Here is a not so modern combine.  They straight cut everything-


We weren't sure how long it was going to take to get into Azerbaijan after reading this sign but we were on our way after 2 hours.  We're bush camping tonight, then heading towards Baku to catch the ferry to cross the Caspian.  





Friday, July 25, 2014

Kazbegi, Georgia

Today was a lazy day for me.  While most people walked or took a cab up to the monastery and a few even continued on to the glacier, I stayed at the camp.

This is a view of the monastery (on the left) and the glacier (on the right).


We had a horrible night because there are 4 large dogs that live at this site who sleep all day and bark all night, chasing cattle, pigs and God knows what else away.


The camping site is a disaster, with garbage strewn everywhere and random people coming and going at odd hours.  This Georgian car pulled in around 6:30 am.  The men proceeded to get drunk, dancing to loud music, and then in the afternoon, calmed down, passed out in their car, one even puked in the stream and by 3 pm, they were gone.  Notice the bottles on the roof!


This Russian vehicle pulled in amongst our tents, had lunch on the grass behind their car, then slept in the back for a few hours-


This woman is using an electric fan to restart coals in the grate to cook our kebab.  She's wired the fan to the battery of her car.  The kebabs were great!


Tomorrow we're on the road again, heading towards Sheki in Azerbaijan!