Saturday, January 8, 2011

Looking Like a Worn Out Shoe

That's about how I am looking right now! Lack of proper nutrition and proper sleep during the long flight to Baku is showing up on this traveler's face. I haven't had difficulty with the time difference. It feels like morming when it's morning and night when it's night and I'm hungry when it's mealtime...but I'm looking like a worn out shoe!

I don't feel like one though....all comfortable, stretched out, fitting the foot just right....nope! I am anything but that! Life is requiring a lot of talking with hands to communicate, adjusting to unfamiliar surroundings, and living out of suitcases....9 of them to be exact and that was after a sea-going crate and an airbound carton left with our belongings last week.

Yesterday, I met Johnny. He is a company driver....most of the employees don't drive over here and after experiencing the "MarioCart" type driving, I understand why. He took us to have my red background picture made for my residence card and to the medical office for a medical check for the same purpose. He gets around these crowded streets

and bustling traffic

as if it is second nature. Driving is his profession! He speaks Russian, Azeri, and English...I'm a little envious of his ability to communicate and translate. He helped us with that too, when we stopped to purchase a phone for me to use while in Baku. That was an experience! I still don't understand exactly how it works...instruction booklet is in Russian...they were able to find an English version for me, but their system is so different....all prepaid phone cards, no service contracts.

As the sun came up over the Caspian Sea this morning and after we consumed a wonderful breakfast

we took a walk along the beach,

then down the highway that follows the contour of the beach.

Along the way, people were scurrying across the highway to catch a bus,

sweeping the dust from the driveways,

and making their way home after an evening in town.

We came upon a food vendor that sells roasted chicken and flat bread.

We purchased a loaf slab of bread wrapped in newspaper

for 1 manat...or $1.20 USD. The ladies in this shop were excited to show me how their food was prepared and let me capture it in pictures.

They prepare the dough...

and after stretching it, they throw it on the wall of these round stone ovens...

I felt a little like Lucy Ricardo when she was on her European tour trying to get a room and some food while in Italy....if you're not an I Love Lucy fan, you may not understand what I'm talking about, but suffice it to say that words just didn't communicate....fingers hands had to do the walking talking. But oh, the joy, when you come to an understanding and there are squeals of delight and breaking out in an international language....laughter!

Our afternoon was filled with a taxi ride to downtown where we got an eyeful of boots. I was so surprised at the parade of so many different styles of boots. Flat boots, stilletto boots, bejeweled boots, furry boots, ruffled boots, leopard boots, shiny boots....they are definitely a fashion statement here in Baku. I felt rather out of place in my running shoes (I was thinking of comfort....they weren't!)

So many people shopping,

walking arm in arm along the boardwalk,

so much to take in...I forgot to take pictures of all those boots....maybe next time because you must see!

We stopped in a small cafe for a late lunch...Sunset Cafe.

After eating our lunch, a young man, Ryan, came to our table inquiring if we spoke English....absolutely! As a traveling chef from South Carolina, he began his journey in Rome, made his way to Baku, and plans his next stop to be France. According to him, he is building his resume, discovering his own way with different ingredients to prepare food. He invited us to return one evening to experience one of his creations....not just a burger that is on the written menu. I think, we will go back, if for nothing but an English conversation with a southern American accent.

As we made our way to find another taxi

for a ride "home", we were sidetracked by a carpet salesman.

He drew us into his shop....we tried to resist, but he so wanted us to have a cup of tea! He took us through a hallway past several other shops to come upon his hole in the wall shop. He required us to sit while his partner prepared our tea and he began to unroll carpet after carpet, wool carpet, camel hair carpet....beautiful handmade carpets. Our piping hot tea was served and we sipped our tea with a sugar cube lump in our mouths. It was quite good, I must say! When we told him that we were not interested in any carpets today, he began to show us scarfs, wool scarfs, camel hair scarfs. We were persuaded to purchase a of my choosing after he confused us with so many choices, so I'm not sure what kind of scarf will be around my neck. We finished our tea, paid for the scarf, and as we prepared to leave, he pulled out a table scarf to give to me as a gift. He wants to be our one and only "carpet man".

After a day of walking and discovery, I am so glad that I opted for comfort instead of fashion today, or I would be looking like the other worn out shoe!

If the shoe fits, wear it well!


3rdThursday said...

Wow!! You should be writing a book because you have a flair for the written word....even without the great photos, your word pictues paint a great scene of your surroundings and your experiences on your first day in Baku. I never doubted that you would get right 'into it' and I see you already have a fast friends at the bread shop and the rug shop, and how cool to find a real 'southern' chef right in your back door. Can't wait to follow your journey. All is well here...expecting very cold temps tomorrow and maybe a little snow by evening. Will keep a watch on the pipes!!

Praying that you will find a great apartment soon and can start unpacking those suitcases!

I'm with you on the comfortable can come later!

Brittany said...

I love this! Keep it coming! I want to see pics of your apt.