Saturday, June 29, 2013

Azerbaidjan, just a quick look

Armenia has a bloody history, you can figure out this much just by looking at it on the map. They don't have much love for their neighbours and the feeling is mutual. Russia is their only friend and according to some armenians, without the Russians, the country would not exist anymore.

The thing is, there is no work in Armenia and an awful lot of Armenians go work in Russia, most of them in Moscow. They come back to Armenia later and bring the money home. The only real job opportunity in Armenia is the army and it is a dangerous profession. From one side you have Turkey which, according to Armenians are occupying a great part of their territory and still don't recognise the Armenian genocide.

From another side there is Azerbaidjan. They're the worst, they just shoot at sight.

From the north, there is Georgia. That's the safest border probably, the Armenians don't have anything against the georgians but the georgians don't like Armenians that much because Armenians murdered a lot of georgians in Abkhazia but then again murduring georgians was probably the only decently paid job Russia could offer them at the time.

 

The last border is with Iran and I don't really know what the deal between Armenia and Iran is. I guess overall, being an Armenian soldier is a shitty job.

 

We rode close to the Azeri border and stopped and some village named Vostepar.

We passed cemeteries and Azeri villages. In Armenia, as well as in Azerbaidjan, towns and villages were deserted either by Armenians or Azeris depending on whose territory they were on. Abandonned muslim cemeteries are common along the border and probably the same with cristian cemeteries on the Azeri side.

Vostepar is an Armenian village part of wich was inhabited by Azerbaidjanese and is now abandonned. However, it still remains Azerbaidjan territory. It's a piece of Azeri land inside Armenia.

 

I was curious, for some time already about how the border of such land would look like.

I've read about ouzbek lands inside Kyrghistan and the many weird consequences of it and now I had one such like this, just next to me. So I went to explore the tiny Azerbaidjanese bit. Technically, I might even be crossing illegaly into Azerbaidjan but I was mostly interested how the border would look like.

 

Ilona didn't want to follow me because she thought discovering the border was pointless and she doesn't find that kind of stuff interesting. Ilona isn't overly interested in geopolitics and the histories of places. I think she's more interested about the look and feel of people, the hitchhiking and mostly, going east.

 

So she stayed somewhere in the village after we ran away from some guys who were acting weird towards us because they thought we were Azeris.

I just took my tablet and went towards the border, when possible staying clear from hypotetical landmines and snipers as the guy on the Abkhazian border showed me. Not that there would be any need but I like taking unnecessary precautions.

This isn't too hard anyway. You just have to walk out of sight of mountain tops and when exposed, keep an uneven walking rhytm.

 

The place was abandonned but there was a rusted fence where the border should have been. But no need even to climb it, a path was going into the Azeri part, I just had to cross a stream.

After that, nothing special, just mountains. The main problem was the sun which was shining like crazy and I didn't have any water so when I made it back to Ilona, I really was on the verge of fainting. Luckily Ilona has been invited into a family who was serving plenty of fresh water and sweets. Exactly what I needed.

At that time we had our first argument. Ilona still doesn't believe that people are genuinly inviting us home. She still thinks they are being polite or pressuring themselves into the invitations.

She thinks we should refuse because most of invitations will end up in exploiting the locals and they don't have enough resources for themselves let alone for us.

I think while it's true money is scarce in many Armenian families, they grow enough food to have guests for one day. And you can kind of tell wheather the family as the resources or not by looking at the stuff on the table.

At least that is my opinion but most importantly, how are we supposed to connect with people if we refuse all the invitations?

We kind of argued about that while the family was bringing us lunch.

Next stop, Sevan.