Many new updates from my shennangians in the Land of Fire, also known as Azerbaijan. I can say that I really have found my groove here in a place where I once felt so strange, but have started to slowly fall in love. One the people here are fantastic. Yeah, I get stared at all the time and have yet to fully understand all the customs, but my host family is the best and all of the other neighbors have been really good to me. I strangely see myself here for two years already. It's amazing as well how you to start to develop relationships with people who don't speak the same language, if you want to communicate nothing can stop you. I realized the other day that when my host mom would say something to me in Azeri that I could not understand she would repeat it to my host sisters and then they would say something in Azeri and magically I knew what was going on. I thought to myself, how the hell did this happen. They both do not speak English, but somehow figured out how to communicate with me. Amazing!!!
So my last post updated everyone about my host site visit to Lankeran, which was really informative and fun, thank you Hiba / Rachel / Jaclyn. Since then I was talking to my dad and thought it would be a very humorous tale to talk about my trip back. Now, what is a marshutka (not spelled correctly). A marshutka is a van, but not only does it have an additional high ceiling it also has additional seating, a walk way, hand rails, and a snazy driver. The drivers, or Kings of the Marshutkas, are the greatest men alive. They take lonely passengers everywhere around Azeribaijan for anywhere from 20 qepik to 5 manat. This is truely a saving grace because a taksi is expensive and you may not have a bus coming by your area every day. Oh yeah, and there is absolutely no limit to the amount of people you can fit on a Marshutka. I have yet to see a driver not stop to pick up one more person, but I do hear that it happens occansionally. So, here we are 5 American women like little ducklings following Hiba and Rachel around the bus station hoping to get back to our sites before dark. The 11am bus to Baku is not there so we loaded our luggage onto a Marshutka and was demanded to all sit in the very back. I forgot to say that 3 of us are 5'11 and one is 5'9 with the other rounding somewhere around 5'5. Yeah the tallest of us got in the back, it was not the greatest idea we have had yet, with the shortest in a lonesome seat in front of us. 5 hours we arrived in Baku not being able to fully feel our legs and having one of the funniest trips so far.
This Saturday we actually went on our first cultural day as well and I had a blast. I climbed on lots of rocks and confronted by fear of ladders. We were at this site where there was once a village 5 thousand years ago with lots of caveman drawings, etc... I hate tours so took off to climb on rocks and got yelled at several times. Then suddenly I see several Americans on top of this huge mountain and of course took off to see how this happened. This is when I conquered my fear of ladders and climbed up a iron ladder, probably from Soviet times, to the very top and of course was shaking like a scared little kid. The worst was coming back down, but there is no way that I can say I'm too scared to do anything that involves heights or a possible fear of death. It was awesome and I have another picture of me hanging my legs off the side of a mountain.