Stuck in Baku
6 August, 2012; 20:55
Today was to be our great escape from the totalitarian oppression of Azerbaijan, but, as with all other things, we’ve been delayed.
We left Alec’s apartment at 9:30 this morning to meet up with Ishmael who was going to get us onto the ferry. We were concerned about the fact that he wanted us to leave our car and go back into the city, but because we were essentially in a no-man’s land, it was better legally for us to go back into town with the cars while we waited for the call that the ferry was leaving; with only 10 spaces to fill, we expected to be on the boat in the late afternoon.
An important lesson was learned this morning: never, and I repeat, NEVER, let an adrenaline junkie wanna-be rally driver who grew up behind the wheel in a city were there are no traffic rules drive your car. Ishmael wanted to drive because he knew the way, and, since he works with the rally, we said sure. He pegged out our engine, squalled our tires, and just generally drove like a madman; I must apologize in advance for my colorful use of language while he was in control of our little Suzuki.
At the port, we met two Italian teams who are participating in a similar but much shorter charity rally called the Silk Road Race. They are taking the same ferry with us, so Ishmael is facilitating for both teams. We made our small talk and wandered over to a truck to use its shade and mingle with some locals; it was a modern day Babel with at least four languages flying through the air. Spirits were good, though, and the truckers offered us some of their tea and lunch, and we had a pretty good time imposing once again on the hospitality of strangers.
Once the paperwork was squared away, Ishmael told us he wanted us all to stay together so it would be easier for us to all get back to the ferry. We went into town, had a bite and waited. Eventually, we found out that we weren’t likely to get off this evening, and we had to make arrangements for another night. Ishmael offered an apartment for $180 a night, but with ten people splitting the bill, it was cheaper than any other place we could have stayed. It is a nice apartment by Baku standards with plenty of beds and all the amenities expected in conjunction with an actual living space instead of a hostel or hotel room. The Italians have offered to cook up some pasta for dinner, so we bought the beer and now are just waiting for a nice big family dinner to start.
There is a chance that our ferry will leave out late tonight (read 3am), so now we have nothing to do but sit and wait. Ishmael told us there is a 100% chance we’ll get on the boat tomorrow, but we’ll just have to see how that plays out. It seems like getting out of Azerbaijan is harder than getting in.