So through a translator I shared my tale, traced my journey on a world map, and answered whatever questions that arose. A moment of levity came when I was asked about whether I felt safe in the places I had visited, to which I replied that I did, for the most part, feel at ease in many of the places I had been. This was no less true in Azerbaijan. At this point an older gentleman seated strategically in the back with a mafia boss aura about him asked why it is that I feel safe here. Although not meant the way it sounded (probably) it came across as Don't feel too safe you tall, lanky, clueless ignoramus. We are Avars (local ethnic group in the region). We could f$%* you up ya heard!! That made me giggle, especially coming from a man seemingly only one phone call away from having his deranged nephew Luchencko book my ticket to oblivion. Not to say that any or even part of that impression was correct (probably) but it sure felt like it. Standing in that dimly lit town hall type building straight out of a communist indoctrination video (with a disproportionately large picture of the deceased president, Heydar Aliyev, on the wall to complete the circle) one can almost hear the Gestapo whispering in your ear. Want to know why I travel? That's why.
|My version of the 'Azeri' stare
|Ye Old Ceiling
|Ye Old Window
|Ye Old Cellar