A relaxing start to the day, for once!

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Kurdamir Hotel

Flag of Azerbaijan  , Kürdǝmir,
Thursday, March 24, 2011

Woke up a bit later than normal, which was fine by me. Normally Martin chivvies me to get going, but then I really do need more sleep that I get.
Leisurly breakfast in a luxury hotel. Must admit it wouldnt have taken much to convince me to stay another night. This roughing it is OK for a short while!
Spent some time sorting the car, they had washed it overnight for us, but used a pressure hose and managed to soak the interior and the engine compartment. And I thought the leaky windscreen made us wet! Fixed the windscreen wipers, so now it wont rain any more. Well, thats a plus in itself! Put opel fruits around the gasket in the fuel tank, so while it may still smell of petrol, at least it'll be a sweet smell of petrol!
Went back in and tried to A) make phone contact with UK, and B) top up mobiles. You know, if a country wants to join the rest of the world and improve their economy, they do need to be part of the communications network. But they aren't All the instruction we had had about what to dial were just so much rubbish, but now, thanks to Brendan and Skype, we managed to get the correct info. Almost in contact!

Set off, and afetr 2 days of solid driving, Martin let me have a go. Set off from the hotel, into Ganja, turn right here, down a one way street the wrong way, and at the end was a police car! Pulled us over, made Martin go in their car, the other policeman sat in Martins seat and off we went. Apparently Martin and his driver had quite some conversations, buy my passenger spoke very little English. Eventually they stopped and demanded $44 as a fine. Paid 40, and they told us to go to Baku. I wonder where the dollars went? DONT ANSWER THAT!!!

Set off again, driving more carefully, Came to one of the interminable detours, and there were the police waiting. Flagged us over. All they wanted was to look at the car, take photos, and generally act the fool. Eventually got tired and told ud we couldd go. But the traffic was solid, and being nice safe drivers I didnt push in. Did they stop the traffic, seeing as they had held us up? Not likely. Miserable gits. Spent the rest of the day sticking strictly to the road signs, speed limits etc, unlike every other driver in the country.

Carried on, got to this place, Kurdamir, Not pushing it as we have problems with timing getting into Turkmenistan, and we are ahead of schedule. So only 107 miles today. Stopped on the side of the road so Martin could go into the Motel we found and book a room. While he was away the usual crowd of locals gathered round. Except this was worse than usual, there must have been over 100 of them, 3 deep all round, pushing pointing shoving, asking questions. You know how they say that Brits speak a foreign language by repeating things over and over, getting louder? Well it applies to other countries too. If I didnt understand you first time, repeating it wont help. Eventually Martion came out and had directions to a hotel, which turned out to be the same one that a plain clotes policeman was suggesting to me. Now we are booked oin, I reckon at an inflated price, but thats just the way things go when you are unable to speak. Had dinner, which we were assured wouldnt cost more that 10 Manets, but came to 18. At least we have Internet here.

Martin's manic moments
So after 2 days I let Roger drive and within 20 minutes we are each kidnapped by police.My bloke thought I was Italian and spentall the time driving around,phoning his office on mobile,taking hands off wheel and changing gear.Offered me sunflower seeds and after event actuall presented us with packet he say "we friends uh?".Little did I know Roger was driving along behind us all the time.
Must confess today was a bit intimidating - we've been stopped by Police 5 times,ended up in a hotel which Rog reckons is a sting for a military barracks only used at weekends and we will have to get out before they return.Passed loads of roadside stalls selling what look like body parts.Must be plenty around judging by the way they drive.Azerbaijan is Asia's Lada - forgotten how fast those old Fiats go.
Alison has told me that Elizabeth Taylor has died.Did she really have violet eyes?
Went to local ristoranti tonight.All blokes in black jackets.I'd kill for a carrot.
Roger and I say our prayers together each evening,kneeling in front of the laptop using Skype
Thank you Chris for your verudite contribution - does a car with one headlight rank as a Cyclops?Like the sentiment that you only come across what is in your soul.
Hang on,stop this sentiment and return to our saga:

He could imitate Irving,tell fortunes with cards
He could play on the Spanish guitar.  
Please keep up the comments - yours are the only English sounds we hear.We are strangers in a land amonst people who think the Morris is from Mars,but thank (enter higher being to suit)
we do not appear to be too tasty.
Keep us in your hearts and minds.It will be worth it.
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Tim on

Hi Martin, hi Rog, great to read of your adventures. Sorry I've not ccmmented until now. I love the tale of Rog and the Fox's glacier mint, but can empathise with the intimidation and vulnerablility that you're experiencing. Good luck with your voyage across the Caspian.
Best Wishes
Tim "it's not the destination, but the glory of the ride"

Peter Wightman on

Still enjoying all your adventures. In your descriptions can you add a sentence or two about the scenery. Thanks
Morro Bay

Sara on

The humour with which you're portraying your misadventures is quite inspiring. Was going to comment on how wonderful it is to have so much detail of your daily travails, and how I'm learning more about your day when you're thousands of miles away than when you're just 3 miles away but found myself getting far too deep and meaningful. Hope the police find something else to do tomorrow, that noone helpfully showers the car tonight and that the potholes are shallow and far between.
Off to the Matthews triplets birthday party tomorrow- is going to be a marathon of 3rd birthday parties this weekend, 4 in 3 days, plus Dan and Isaac tobogganing in SnoDome on Sunday!
Will show Isaac the photos tomorrow and let you know what he says

Shelagh on

Avidly sit in front of the computer every day to catch up on the next installment......It's EXHAUSTING following you guys!! Your blogs open up a wealth of questions so I hope a book/movie is in the making!!!! Fancy finding a Ramada out there! The weather looks terrible, but if it's any consolation Cordee had 8 " of snow in St. Paul MN yesterday and it's been raining cats and dogs for days on end in 'sunny Cal.' Take care. We are with you every inch (pothole?) of the way K and S

CharlotteNAlien on

Hello Martin and Martin's friend Roger. This is Charlotte and Alien, Dan and Sara's friends here. Yes, they are promoting your exploits far and wide! Now the introductions are over just wanted to say we are reading every day and really enjoying your tales of police pension fund contributions and bad roads! Having been avid watchers of the “The Long Way Round” we greatly admire your can-do attitude setting-off to do similar without a film crew, fixer in each country and off-road vehicles!! Keep up the good work!

sara on

martin, skype name is sara.danredmond for birthday chat!! speak in the morning xx

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