Still in Baku, sunning it up

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

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Where I stayed
Private apartment

Flag of Azerbaijan  ,
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Went to Saipem's offices after breakfast. Their driver took us and the precious letter to the Customs offices.Got there on the second floor. There's an office with units of 4 desks around 3 sides, with the central section for us plebs. There must have been over 50 Customs officers at the desks, talking to each other, reading magazines, newspapers and generally getting on with very little. All in their uniforms, with varying numbers of pips on their shoulders, one to five. We were directed to a guy at the far side of the room, only a one pipper. Our driver explains to him what the problem is, and a long conversation follows. Back and forth. Turns out we should have taken the car to Customs on the Saturday we arrived. But it was not drivable, with the wheel studs broken. Not his problem.
Then all the Customs men stop talking and stand erect. Turns out the little guy with an Admiral's scrambled eggs, is their overall boss, so everything stops. Then he goes, and its back to everyone talking but little being done.
Then we are directed upstairs to some guy who is in charge of Firearms and Contraband, smuggling and guns. Go through the same story, cuts no ice. We now have to get the car repaired, take it to customs at the dock, they will liase with Head Office who will decide the fine, then we can get it cleared, buy a ticket and get on the ferry. If there is one! There's no facility for extending a cars papers, just for being late, and we haven't booked it in so we arent late yet.

Back to the apartment for lunch, then out to buy stamps for the postcards. Find the Post Office, they take the money, and promise to put the stamps on the cards for us. I wonder whether they will?

Wander around trying to replace the spare tyre that we've already used, but all we are offered is a wrong size second hand tyre. We'll try another time at one of the auto markets we've seen on the outskirts, the main centre of Baku isnt likely to have much on offer.

Wander around into the main part of town, Old Town and down the sea front again. Some of the fountains are working, but it seems that Sunday is the best day for that.

Back to the apartment, where I try and fix the drivers door handle, it doesnt lock. We packed part of the workings with liquid steel, so I try and see if it works now. No chance. I packed the wrong side of the gap. So I trim out the bit I'd done and we pack the other side.
Dinner - exactly the same as last time I made it. I dont have a wide repertoire, and with limited ingredients, it makes life simple.
Studied the map for the next week's travels (assuming we get out of Baku, that is!)
Blog, and off to bed. Hopefully the replacement studs will arrive tomorrow morning (early, late?) and we can get the car back on its wheels.

Martin's moody moment.
I'm not too good with time on my hands and the current state of suspension is hard to cope with.When the momentum is with you as has been the case for nearly two years,events seem to have a way of carrying you forward.We currently find ourselves waiting,through the kind intervention of other kind souls,on the efforts of a distant engineering company to repair our hubs.Did they understand what was needed? Will they realise the critical nature of the remedy - we will not be going back if things are not quite right.We have heard this morning that the parts will not now be ready until this afternoon (Wednesday).
Then the Customs/ferry confusion.If there is no statutory penalty,how will we know what is correct?What if the sum demanded is outrageous?Without set penalties it appears a licence for hostage.
All the hubs have to do is get us from the middle of town to the docks and their true test will not come about until we get in to Turkmenistan-again further in to the dark until we get to Bishkek which is due Mon 11 April.That's about half way in time and distance.So literally it is that the Caspian crossing will be a watershed.There is no going back once we get on that ferry.
Thinking also about fuel supplies and quality.We should have enough to carry us between major towns but we still have a persistent leak on the top tank sender unit which is losing us precious petrol.Need to wait for the level to drop a bit further and we can break out the Starbursts.
A constant state of fatigue seems to have set in.It seems difficult to summon up energy or enthusiasm.And the temperature has dropped,making it leass encouraging to get going.So for the first time we find ourselves not in control,either of what is happening to our car or what will be our fate at the hands of the Customs department or ferry operators.A risk such as the entire project you can approach by trying to engineer out foreseen problems or apply whatever technical skills you may have to deal with paperwork requirements,but being at the end of processes which are critical to you but from which you are effectively excluded is both exhausting and unnerving.

Don't worry we will return to our heroes when the spirit is back with me.No! dash it! lets have a burst:

One day this bold Russian had shouldered his gun,
And with his most cynical sneer,

See? I knew things were going to turn nasty. 

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Emily on

You are doing so well, the pair of you. Thank goodness for this blog, so you can get things off your chest and try and unload your thoughts. Your readers are also very grateful for being able to keep up-to-date with your movements.

You know where we are if you want to share the load. I'm planning the book already!

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