So honestly, what do you know about Azerbaijan? With us, the knowledge of this small country on the Caspian Sea stopped by the fact that it is located on the Caspian Sea, the capital is Baku and a few years ago somebody from this country won the Eurovision Song Contest. That for this event, which then always takes place in the successor’s country, a hall was built, but that was it we knew. The good thing is that we really did not dare to cross the border. On the Georgian side, a sign still wished “Good Luck”, which gaves us an ambigous feeling. But luck we really did not need. Hardly anyone has experienced such a border crossing so far, after all, we were invited by the border officials to tea and cake, because there were slight delays with our e-visa. Many friendly words, personal escort to each station and also very friendly and cheerful locals waiting at the counters gave us a taste of a totally different mentality.
The diversity of this country is again enormous, so we first went on gravel roads (98% of the roads shoudl be paved) through large hazel and walnut forests, past the bare foothills of the southern Caucasus Mountains, into a steppe and desert landscape. We wanted to see nature and the most extraordinary thing Azerbaijan has to offer were mud volcanoes. Yes, exactly, mountains that throw mud! Glorious. Said, route searched, driven, sobered. So Google Maps has some catching up to do in some places. Not only was “road” just a stuck, bumpy mud track, it was also incredibly long. We could drive 20 km of this slope only at walking pace. One always hopes, and sometimes one is right, that the road would improve after a certain time. Far from it this time.
When we could almost see our volcano, mud puddles, missing ‘roads’ and inclination angles more than 30 ° prevented us from getting ahead. A nice shepherd came to us and explained with hands and feet, that we could not continue here, but there was a way on the other side of the mountain. We examined this and found 30 cm deep furrows. Insurmountable for Ernst? Well, you know us. So we tried an attempt. Martin at the wheel, Laika asleep, Conny as a guide. We did it! We drove on and on to the volcano, whose diameter must have been about one kilometer. Just before darkness it became foggy and our volcano became invisible. We looked for a place to stay. There were no more people or houses here and we waited for the next morning. Crap. So still fog. The volcano walk we could forget. We would neither find the volcano nor return. So we said: To the direction of civilization. The same bumpy way back? Or take what seemed a little more like a way on Google Maps, but where no road was described? Well, we tried our luck on the new, unknown path. The nocturnal fog and the high humidity were against us. The path was muddy, partly the water was staying there already longer. Suddenly there was something like a dyke … With visibility under 10 m, you could now drive not very anticipatory or even know where to go. Nevertheless, we overcame most of the mud holes with a lot of momentum and one or the other bump was also a bit rough, but we were finally able to free ourselves from MudMeadowFoggyLands. Two mountain ranges further the wind blew away the fog, the sun came out and the most glorious weather was ever seen. Disappointed to have missed the volcano, despite these driving strains, we sought the shortest way to a paved road. And there he was suddenly! Our own little mud volcano. We climbed up, Martin took pictures, and unfortunately for everyone involved Laika wallowed in the mud. So this trip still had a happy ending and Laika a stealth shell.
In that part of the desert, a peninsula in the Caspian Sea, a state-of-the-art metropolis is emerging from the old city of Baku. Always alternated with old large skyscrapers from Soviet times arise here more and more glittering buildings, lit at night by many LEDs throughout the city giving a glittering face. There are two worlds that arise here directly next to each other, because all the splendor is little seen in the countryside and in smaller cities. Except, of course, the huge flags that simply can not be missed in this part of the world. Actually, here in Baku we just wanted to apply for a visa for Uzbekistan, wait for a week’s processing time and then on to Iran … But you know how it is with plans, now our wheel bearings came into play again. We had found some companies that specialize in bearings, but thex could not deliver the matching one. But what they could do was offer us to send something from Germany to their address. We were told the shipping would take 3-5 days, and that worked great in the timeline. This was one of the moments when one could jump on his grateful friends at home with gratitude, because there Marcel and Svenja immediately jumped into the car in Lüneburg, roared to Hamburg, bought the necessary parts in two shops and pushed them on the same day which we asked for help in the mail. Thank you again! Okay, in Germany unfortunately Easter was just around the corner … you might have to hold the DHL to good … but the hoped for 3-5 days were unfortunately quite two weeks.
We spent most of the time waiting in a newly landscaped city park, right on the coast. We were obviously there for a very long time, because at the public toilets we did not need to pay more after a short time, no, we even got sweets as a gift and many greetings from the gardeners and landscapers accompanied every day. Of course, we did not want to miss this time of course, so we visited the north of the country with the Candy Mountains and the extensive orchards, but Ernst should also get his care unit.
Since the engine sounded pretty bumpy after all the fuel issues in Georgia, the visit to a specialist workshop was announced. Bosch Dieselservice Baku sounded just right. Like ants, four mechanics rushed at Ernst’s heart. They listened, screwed, disguised, checked and finally exchanged the entire tank contents.
We got also a training on how to recognize bad diesel, because the quality is here under all standards. Some years ago people even talked about up to 30% water in diesel. People worked like that for over four hours … the bad feeling of not having enough cash was growing steadily. Wrongly. Because you have to help travelers, that’s the culture in this country. As generous as it was laid out here, we were already very heartfelt and the tear glands, because the guys absolutely did not want to accept money from us. Our gratitude for these people will hopefully reward, because they can be sure of them.
Uncertain waiting can become a torment. Day after day passed in the city park of Baku. But in our case we were one day lucky, otherwise we would not have met many great people who stopped on their walks and talked with us friendly and were super interested in us. A very special one was Cavid. An incredibly loveable young engineer who invited us to accompany him and his friends to paragliding in the nearby mountains. Since we had just a rather empty schedule and were curious, we agreed. Those moments when you really get in touch with people are probably the most beautiful part of traveling. We spent two great trips in the remoteness of the southern Caucasus with the buddies around Cavid, were accepted directly as belonging and had a lot of funny and interesting conversations. Whether we dared to take off ourselves …?