Friday, 7 March 2014

moving on

With fresh visas in our passports, a few extra pounds on our waistlines, and a good feeling about the future possibilities of teaching English abroad, we say goodbye to Pamela and Joe.  Our departure takes us back along the busy road to the bus station.  We decided to bus it to Lankaran, almost all the way to the border with Iran, so as to make the most of our time in Baku and to dodge what sounds like quite uninspiring landscape.  There are the usual shenanigans at the bus station as we negotiate our bikes onto a bus.  One is about to leave when we turn up and a small group of men surround us to watch as we struggle to squeeze the bikes into a baggage compartment that is just too small.  The bus driver finally waves us away and drives off, leaving us to the mercy of a tall Russian with a minivan and a rather luxurious moustache, which seems to curl up at the ends when he smiles.  Being Russian, he only smiles when we ask about his price.  The moustache curls alarmingly when he mentions the figure of 40 manat.  Thankfully, the next bus pulls in and the driver is dead straight with us.
good credit if you've done the haj?

We coast southwards through a desolate wasteland beyond Baku before coming to farmland around Lankaran.  The mountains we saw in the distance approach the coastline as we get nearer to Iran. After a quick stop off for food (and a last bottle of beer), we start riding towards the border town of Astara along a ropey old road busy with trucks coming form Iran.  Lots of beeps and shouts and waves along the way.  The countryside is greener here, and we catch sight of tea bushes.  However, much of the land is fenced off or separated from the road by deep wide ditches so by the end of the afternoon we are struggling to find anywhere to camp.  As if by magic, surrounded by water-logged farmland, we come to a factory and hotel.  Not sure why it's here, but we are happy.  It's small and cheap enough and the only sound at night are the strange cries of wild animals outside.

We know we haven't done a lot of cycling since we left Turkey - so anyone reading this and expecting to find a nitty-gritty account of mud and gore as we cross the Caucasus in winter may have been disappointed.  For us, the wild camping has been a highlight of our journey so far, but we're not hardy enough for successive nights of sub-zero temperatures, grey skies and barren scenery.  We would like to return to Georgia one day at another time of year, with boots and backpack, to explore the mountains and we also want to visit Armenia. Another day, another journey......

No comments:

Post a Comment