Monday, September 26, 2005

Heading down south...

I have only few weeks left and I still have not seen so many places. So for my next trip I chose to see the south of Azerbaijan. The areas of Lankaran, Masalli and Lerik. Areas that again sooo differ from other parts of Azerbaijan. The south is predominantly populated by Talish people and probably some 80% of people would be speaking Talish, especially in the villages in these regions.

The southern regions were for quite some time overlooked where the development aid was concerned. The main reason is probably the fact that in early 90s the region tried to create the independent Talish-Mugam republic. They managed to hold on for few weeks only and then the government put a stop to it. Since then the area was sort of out of favour.

The roads down south improved a lot recently. Also the supply of electricity have been better and better in the recent years. Though in winter time they get approximately 4 hours of electricity per day but noone knows when it is gonna come. And the areas do get snow there.
Along the roads you have so many people selling fruits and vegetables. This time you can buy potatoes, cucumbers, but also the granat apples, grapes, apples, pears and some other fruits that I do not know even know. Lankaran is also know for its tea plantations.


I went with a friend, Aynura, from work. We left on Friday evening and arrived in Lankaran around 9pm. The night we spent with one american family that lives in that area. The family has three little kids so it was really pleasant to be with them.

We left the next morning to see some more of Lankaran. First we visited the Lankaran market. One can of course buy anything there but for me the most incredible part was watching the local people. I took several photos and since I have a digital camera I always showed the photo to the person. And once I even got warm hug and two kisses. It is incredible how the locals perceive the camera and sort of appreciate that it is them that you take photo of!!

Lankaran is also famous for another reason. I understood that there is quite a high number of schizophrenic people, especially among the young men. I do not know the reason.

Our trip continued even more south, towards Astara (city that lies on the border with Iran). First we stopped in a picnic area Xanbulan where is this incredible pretty lake hidden in the forests. We walked along watching few women fish there. The area was so peacefull and calm that we did not even feel like leaving! After the lake we continued south and got to a village called Pensar in the Astara rayonu where you can find the Yanar Bulag, the burning water! The water contains some gases and you can just set it on fire! :o) And what is even better, you can touch the burning water and it won't burn you!!

The architecture of the houses and structure of the villages in these south regions totally differs from those that I have been to so far. The houses have more space around themselves, they are many times these cute little square houses set along green forested mountains. This view is the same along the roads from Masalli to Astara. But the scenery changes when you turn to go to Lerik which lies to the west from Lankaran. The terrain becomes more hilly and more green. And the area gets much more rain. I guess quite cool conditions for growing ganja (marihuana). Actually in 90s they started to grow it in this region as there was no law that prevented a business like that ;o). (One would expect that they would grow ganja in the city of Ganja! :o)

The road to Lerik is a mountain road, so one turn after another. We stopped for a lunch in the close by restaurant that was built in the forest right next to a waterfall. Our lunch was of incredible size as usual. Some vegetables, cheeses, bread as a starter. Then the traditional dish Levengi - roasted chicken with special spices and nuts filling. Then came another round of boiled chicken and only after that they brought shashlik and fried potatoes. We were three to eat all this. After we rolled back to the car I was allowed to drive (according to my skills) to Lerik. Aynura trusted me but the driver next to me was extremely nervous. He did say that I drive well, but he was constantly holding his hand on the hand brake, along with not allowing me to change the speed with the gear stick and with constantly telling me "medlenno" (slowly) :o))). Hehehehe. But I had such a great time!!!

In Lerik we stopped only to get a guide that would take us along the area. Lerik is actually famous by a person who died there some years ago reaching the age of 165. And he is definitely not the only person that reached his 100s. There are quite few people like that. One person explained that he hardly eats vegetables and that he lives so long thanks to the regular shots of vodka. :o)))

The road itself to Lerik is spectacular. The Azeri president was travelling to Lerik recently and that is why the road got a totally new coat. Sad thing was that two days after the visit this huuuge bullock of the size of a house dropped on the road and crashed it (but I have not seen the road being damaged so they did repair it thankfully and did not wait for the next visit of the president!) ;o)))

Getting on the track to see a few villages further away from Lerik, the road got considerably worse and we were going quite slowly. I appreciated it as the nature was so brilliant. Green green hills and pictoresque little villages set on the hill sides. This area is definitely one of my favourite. Actually twice we asked the driver with Aynura if we can walk and so the driver would be going slowly behind us as we with Aynura enjoyed walking along the road.

We stayed in the same house for the night where we had the lunch. So beautiful fresh air, green trees and the bubbling of the river flowing by (and no mobile signal ;o)).

The next day we actually managed to get out of bed only around 10. So after a good breakfast we pretty much headed back to Baku. With few little stops to finish my photo collection. We covered more than 800km during the three days.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The place sounds beautiful, Marta. Thanks for your poetic descriptions :-) Perhaps you were inspired by the ganja?!

Cheers,
Darrell

9:16 PM, September 28, 2005  
Anonymous janca said...

thanks for sharing! I cannot wait to see the pictures! Have fun.
janca

9:44 PM, September 28, 2005  
Blogger Mart'a said...

Heheheh, and I thought the little leaves were called Lankaran tea?!? :o)))

I hope we will have time to watch the photos soon. And I look forward to seeing yours! :o) ANd altogether I look forward to seeing you :o))).

6:51 AM, September 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

if you have any info (phone numbers etc.) about homestays in Lerik, please send them to me [henning.sasse@web.de].

Thanks in advance

Henning

3:31 PM, September 29, 2007  

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