A Travellerspoint blog

May 2013

Azerbaijani Wedding Party

sunny
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What an event!
The Friendship Force group was honored to attend and have the opportunity to join in the festivities.
The wedding celebration is quite similar to how it is celebrated in Albania:
First there is a large engagement party
Second there is a celebration called the "Bride's Wedding - this is what we attended.
Third there is a celebration called the "Groom's Wedding." This is generally held the week following the Bride's Wedding. There is some kind of ritual where the groom arrives and takes the bride from her father's home.

There is NO religious ceremony or service. The information is provided to the imam so the marriage is registered in the mosque, but the bride and groom don't have to be present. The marriage must also be registered in some city office.

The wedding parties are generally held in a special hall, which generally caters to such events.

The music and singing are VERY loud. I thought the band was stupendous, but some local folks commented that the singers were not the best. It was all national music, but some other couples choose to have popular, European, or American music.
What a Band

What a Band


In the Entrance Lobby

In the Entrance Lobby


The quantity and number of courses at an Azerbaijan restaurant is astounding. It absolutely never stops. We are constantly reminded that folks from USA are among the most overweight, but I don't think anyone has thought to include Azerbaijanis into the data.
Food Never Stops

Food Never Stops


The place settings include about 4 plates and 3 glasses. When a female is seated, the waiter removes the stemmed shot glass for vodka, but leaves it for the men. Some of the Americans insisted on alcohol and one of the women at my table insisted on a vodka shot glass. I did as the locals did and drank water and tea.
Videographers constantly circle the room filming everyone and projecting it on 8 big screens around the hall. You get so accustomed to them that you ignore them and will probably be caught with a pickle in your mouth - or something worse.
Eat a Pickle

Eat a Pickle

The bride and groom can wear any color dress and suit at the engagement party and Bride's Wedding. She wore red and he wore blue. At the groom's wedding, she wears white and he wears either black or white.
Bride_and_Groom.jpgBride and Groom Slow Dance

Bride and Groom Slow Dance


The high point of the wedding party is the traditional dancing. The family starts the traditional dance. On the next songs, women in the family will continue to dance in one or more circles and the men watch and eat. Gradually, there will be circles for men and circles for women. Only occasionally, is a woman included in a circle of unknown men- except, of course, for a couple of USA women who charged themselves into circles and danced like they were at a 1980 disco. (Not me! I get so disgruntled when these crazy old American women have to show other nations "how women can really be.")
Dance of the Family

Dance of the Family


Let the Dancing Begin

Let the Dancing Begin


Country Lady City Lady

Country Lady City Lady


Eventually, the men begin dancing circles and compete with one another. I could not get very good photos, so go to You Tube and search for Azerbaijan Wedding Dance to get a better idea of the fun.
Men Begin to Dance

Men Begin to Dance


Men Get Livlier

Men Get Livlier


Take Turns in the Center

Take Turns in the Center


No Stopping Now

No Stopping Now


Song After Song

Song After Song

Before the wedding party, I visited a Baku salon with my host's daughter, Nurana.
Nurana at the Nail Salon

Nurana at the Nail Salon


Paula at the Nail Salon

Paula at the Nail Salon


My host Sevda was quite excited about the party.
Sevda and Paula Ready for the Party

Sevda and Paula Ready for the Party


Once there, she didn't seem to have much fun. I only got her to dance once. Her feet hurt from tight high heeled shoes.
Sevda After the Party

Sevda After the Party

Later that night at her apartment 8 of us women between the ages of 18 months to 68 years danced until almost 1 AM to traditional music. I guess she was more comfortable in her housecoat with familiar women friends.

Posted by pscotterly 11:41 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

Leaving Lahic, Azerbaijan


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Before coming to Azerbaijan, I saw a video on You Tube titled On the Road to Lahic.
I had the same experience leaving Lahic. We careened along the mountain road in our Lada when around the curve the sheep appeared. I rolled my side window to take a picture. My driver frantically yelled "Dog! Dog! Dog!" He never says a word in English, so I promptly rolled up my window, but couldn't imagine ever being afraid of any border collie I had ever seen herding sheep. Eventually, the shepherd on horseback appeared with 5 huge wolf hound type dogs. The driver promptly rolled up his window. I must admit they did not very friendly - nothing like my grandson Alan's sweet Torrey who continued to befriend wheelchairs long after Alan had passed.

There had to be hundreds of sheep in this herd - maybe over a thousand. Probably being herded up the mountain from a winter to summer meadow. Several herders were on horseback. The last thing - person or sheep- in the parade was a small boy of not more than 10 years ensuring not a sheep was slower than he.

Leaving Lahic 5-25-2013 2-51-24 AM

Leaving Lahic 5-25-2013 2-51-24 AM

Lada in Sheep 5-25-2013 2-51-32 AM

Lada in Sheep 5-25-2013 2-51-32 AM

Posted by pscotterly 10:43 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

Lahic Cemetaries

sunny
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Cemetary in Lahij 5-23-2013 1-19-15 AM

Cemetary in Lahij 5-23-2013 1-19-15 AM


Lehij Cemetary Scene 5-24-2013 9-23-24 PM

Lehij Cemetary Scene 5-24-2013 9-23-24 PM


Monument 5-24-2013 9-29-06 PM

Monument 5-24-2013 9-29-06 PM


More Wildflowers 5-24-2013 9-32-33 PM

More Wildflowers 5-24-2013 9-32-33 PM


Rampant Wildflowers 5-24-2013 9-43-38 PM

Rampant Wildflowers 5-24-2013 9-43-38 PM


Recent Memorial Decoration  5-24-2013 9-39-18 PM

Recent Memorial Decoration 5-24-2013 9-39-18 PM


Resting Amid the Flowers 5-24-2013 9-24-13 PM

Resting Amid the Flowers 5-24-2013 9-24-13 PM


Transport Path in Cemetary 5-24-2013 9-43-51 PM

Transport Path in Cemetary 5-24-2013 9-43-51 PM


Cannot Get Enough Views 5-23-2013 10-48-28 PM

Cannot Get Enough Views 5-23-2013 10-48-28 PM


Cemetary in Lahij 5-23-2013 1-19-15 AM

Cemetary in Lahij 5-23-2013 1-19-15 AM


Birds Drinking in the Cemetary 5-24-2013 9-24-33 PM

Birds Drinking in the Cemetary 5-24-2013 9-24-33 PM

Posted by pscotterly 04:44 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

Scenes Around Lahic

sunny
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Unpaved Path 5-23-2013 10-48-12 PM 9-25 AM

Unpaved Path 5-23-2013 10-48-12 PM 9-25 AM

The Coppersmith's Shop 5-23-2013 1-01-01 AM

The Coppersmith's Shop 5-23-2013 1-01-01 AM


Call to Prayer 5-22-2013 11-44-29 PM

Call to Prayer 5-22-2013 11-44-29 PM

Castle Remains over Lahic 5-23-2013 12-23-51 AM

Castle Remains over Lahic 5-23-2013 12-23-51 AM

Cow Pasture in Town 5-23-2013 1-22-25 AM

Cow Pasture in Town 5-23-2013 1-22-25 AM

Dressing Room in the Bathhouse 5-23-2013 4-59-57 AM

Dressing Room in the Bathhouse 5-23-2013 4-59-57 AM

Entrance to the Hamami 5-23-2013 4-13 AM 5-23-2013 4-52-13 AM

Entrance to the Hamami 5-23-2013 4-13 AM 5-23-2013 4-52-13 AM


This is misspelled - should be hamam! Only open onMon and Fri for women. Instead, my hostess built a big fire in her stove which was built under a hot water tank. After two hours we had boiling hot water for a shower.
DSC02026-001

DSC02026-001

Fleece for a Lahic Mattress 5-23-2013 4-41-34 AM

Fleece for a Lahic Mattress 5-23-2013 4-41-34 AM


After washing and carding, this fleece will be used for a mattress, quilt or pillow. When a couple becomes engaged, she makes him a new mattress as a gift.
Mosque and Public Spring 5-22-2013 11-44-14 PM

Mosque and Public Spring 5-22-2013 11-44-14 PM


All mosques require a source of water for washing. Additionally, there are public taps all over town in the same historic spots as when people did not have individual tap water. I assumed all the public taps were springs. Then on a walk, I saw this building and was told it was the city cistern that was the source of all the water in Lahic. It had been built with assistance from Japan.
Source of All the Spring Water 5-23-2013 11-01-50 PM

Source of All the Spring Water 5-23-2013 11-01-50 PM


Most of the public taps and those in people's courtyards run constantly even though they have closeable spigots.
My guide said, "Water is free."
There does not seem to be any drought fears as we have in Colorado where we have been limited to twice a week watering for ten minutes twice a day!
I was also told there was no fear of running out of fire wood even though that is the only source of heat in small stoves in several rooms in each house.
Lahic Street Scene 5-23-2013 12-07-20 AM

Lahic Street Scene 5-23-2013 12-07-20 AM


Here Come the Cows 5-24-2013 10-28-58 PM

Here Come the Cows 5-24-2013 10-28-58 PM


There Go the Cows 5-24-2013 10-29-38 PM

There Go the Cows 5-24-2013 10-29-38 PM

Posted by pscotterly 04:29 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

People Around Lahic

sunny
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These boys wanted me to take their picture and then asked me to give them something. I said I had nothing to give, but they saw this bottle of hand sanitizer hanging on my backpack and asked for it. I gave it to them and demonstrated only for washing their hands. An adult on the square ran over to open it, check it out and smell it. I demonstrated only to wash hands and not to drink. He nodded that he understood.
Hand Sanitizer for Photo Exchange 5-22-2013 11-52-01 PM

Hand Sanitizer for Photo Exchange 5-22-2013 11-52-01 PM


Every child in uniform was SO cute.
Ready for School 5-22-2013 10-22-56 PM

Ready for School 5-22-2013 10-22-56 PM


End of the school year, so children from neighboring villages and local school were out for field trips to the historic mosques, homes, etc.
Field Trip in Lahic 5-23-2013 12-18-49 AM

Field Trip in Lahic 5-23-2013 12-18-49 AM


Getting Shoes on for School 5-23-2013 12-59-47 AM

Getting Shoes on for School 5-23-2013 12-59-47 AM


Hauling wood home in Lahic

Hauling wood home in Lahic


Mother-in-law 5-23-2013 12-24-33 AM

Mother-in-law 5-23-2013 12-24-33 AM


Remains of February Fire 5-23-2013 12-24-57 AM

Remains of February Fire 5-23-2013 12-24-57 AM

Obviously not an Azerbaijani, but my traveling companion. We are in the mother-in-law's courtyard looking at the devastation of a fire that happened in February. They live in the front of the house only, but the rest of the 200 year old home is ruined.
Spice Vendor in Lahic 5-23-2013 12-07-02 AM

Spice Vendor in Lahic 5-23-2013 12-07-02 AM


Through the Garden Gate 5-23-2013 12-24-02 AM

Through the Garden Gate 5-23-2013 12-24-02 AM


My traveling companions took a horseback trek up the mountain to try to reach a 12th century castle. Second year in a row, they did not make it.
Friends Leaving Lahic 5-23-2013 8-21-12 PM

Friends Leaving Lahic 5-23-2013 8-21-12 PM


Lahic Butcher 5-23-2013 10-32-03 PM

Lahic Butcher 5-23-2013 10-32-03 PM


On to the Next Village 5-24-2013 10-36-33 PM

On to the Next Village 5-24-2013 10-36-33 PM

Posted by pscotterly 03:45 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

Construction around Lahic

sunny
View May and June 2013 on pscotterly's travel map.

Of course, I am always interested in how things are done.
Lahic has established itself as an historic district. Nothing can be built that is not of traditional construction. Because of the frequent earthquakes, there is always much that needs to be constructed. Although the town has been there for 2,000 years, only a few buildings are over 200 years old.
They have determined a way to build that makes them safer in the earthquakes by layering the stones for an established height and then placing wood strips. There are two walls of stone and then crushed rock is placed between the walls. All this is done by hand with hammer, chisel, and a few other tools.
One Stone at a Time 5-23-2013 12-46-31 AM

One Stone at a Time 5-23-2013 12-46-31 AM


More New Construction 5-23-2013 12-48-28 AM

More New Construction 5-23-2013 12-48-28 AM


New Home Traditionally Built 5-23-2013 12-36-23 AM

New Home Traditionally Built 5-23-2013 12-36-23 AM

Heavy equipment is used for building the paved road into Lahic. This project is taking years to complete because the road is steep and narrow and difficult to widen.
Mixed Modes in Lahic 5-24-2013 9-19-52 PM

Mixed Modes in Lahic 5-24-2013 9-19-52 PM

The new town wall is being built by hand.
Building a New Town Wall 5-24-2013 9-53-58 PM

Building a New Town Wall 5-24-2013 9-53-58 PM


Riverstone by Riverstone 5-24-2013 9-54-27 PM

Riverstone by Riverstone 5-24-2013 9-54-27 PM


The riverbed that runs next to Lahic provides all the building materials for the buildings, homes, and walls.
Source of All Lahic Building Material 5-24-2013 10-25-31 PM

Source of All Lahic Building Material 5-24-2013 10-25-31 PM


This man walked around the river selecting fairly flat stones to be used in the wall. He put them in slight piles. Later an ancient army dump truck drove down to the riverbed and collected them, took them up and dumped them where the workers picked them up in a wheelbarrow.
Selecting Riverstones 5-24-2013 10-25-03 PM

Selecting Riverstones 5-24-2013 10-25-03 PM

Posted by pscotterly 03:09 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

My Homestay in Lahic, Azerbaijan

sunny
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I traveled to Lahic with a father and his daughter. We are staying with a local family who have lived in Lahic as many generations as they know. Both the wife and husband are school teachers. Dardesh, the host, is also the local Director of Tourism. He is out of town, so his brother Marif is serving as host and will also be my guide.
My Homestay in Lahic 5-22-2013 10-41-30 AM

My Homestay in Lahic 5-22-2013 10-41-30 AM


There are two connected guest rooms with three beds each in Dardesh's Homestay.
Typical Bed in Guest House

Typical Bed in Guest House


The diningroom is the only room to which we had access except for our bedrooms. I insisted on sleeping in the back bedroom by myself and had the daughter and father stay together even though our host said the one room should be for men and the other for women.
Dining Room in Lahic 5-23-2013 10-03-03 PM

Dining Room in Lahic 5-23-2013 10-03-03 PM


The hostess never ate with us. As Dardesh was out of town, Marif came and ate all meals with us.
The toilet took a bit of getting accustomed to.
Bathroom in Lahic 5-23-2013 9-19-16 PM

Bathroom in Lahic 5-23-2013 9-19-16 PM


My hosts keep a few chickens and we have plenty of good meals with plenty of fresh eggs.
Chickens in My Yard in Lahic 5-23-2013 1-32-45 AM

Chickens in My Yard in Lahic 5-23-2013 1-32-45 AM


I occasionally found an empty snail shell after the chickens had feasted.
Chicken Food 5-23-2013 8-01-15 PM

Chicken Food 5-23-2013 8-01-15 PM


The neighbor's horse was tied in a different spot every day. The chickens joined in for fine dining.
Morning Munching 5-22-2013 9-25-06 PM

Morning Munching 5-22-2013 9-25-06 PM


Every morning, a young boy would take a small flock of sheep to join others. Every night they returned to be put in the family compound. The first day, I worried that this boy was not allowed to go to school. Then, I learned the school day is split and some go in mornings and some in the afternoon.
Moving the Sheep Before School 5-22-2013 9-43-26 PM

Moving the Sheep Before School 5-22-2013 9-43-26 PM


This time of year, the yard was filled with beautiful iris. This is a photo of Bazil Ty, Jr enjoying them. When Bazil gave me this he said "I don't know who you talk to when I am not with you." Well, it has sure proved good for this trip - not many English speakers - and we know how well I can speak Azerbaijani.
Bazil Ty Jr Enjoys the Flowers in Lahic 5-23-2013 1-32-18 AM

Bazil Ty Jr Enjoys the Flowers in Lahic 5-23-2013 1-32-18 AM

These children played across the road almost every day and liked to say Photo, Photo, Horse, Money. I asked my hostess and guide if I was supposed to give them money, and they said I should not. I was told these children were not from Lahic but a different village and stayed with relatives to go to school. "They are not as well behaved as children from Lahic."
Children at Play 5-23-2013 6-19-48 AM

Children at Play 5-23-2013 6-19-48 AM


Dardesh is out of town. His brother Marif, who is also the local Director of the Museum was my guide. This picture shows him in front of the museum which is also the Tourist Information Center. It was a mosque when the town was larger.
DSC02006

DSC02006


Marif's home is down the mountain about a mile in the heart of town. It is over 200 years old and his family has always lived there. His brother built the house up the mountain where I stay instead of living together in town in the family compound. Marif has build a summer home even further up the mountain.
All the water and cooking in Marif's home is done in the courtyard. To access the toilet and the upstairs, you must come out to the courtyard. Although I was invited to tea, chairs were brought out to the courtyard and I did not go in the home.

Marif in His Courtyard 5-23-2013 1-00-13 AM

Marif in His Courtyard 5-23-2013 1-00-13 AM

Posted by pscotterly 23:43 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

Arrival in Azerbaijan

sunny
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After flying across the Atlantic and all of Europe on a very, very old Aeroflot plant, the very modern and quite beautiful international terminal in Moscow airport was a wonderful surprise. We had to check in at an information booth so she could see my passport and verify I had a good luggage ticket to transfer my luggage. Hurrah! I did! It had been a real hassle at Dulles in Virginia finding someone who could figure out how to get my luggage checked through Moscow and on to Baku, but fortunately I had. She told me I was going to have to pay for an additional 20 kilos of overweight luggage. Fortunately, it dawned on me that on her computer the weight of my luggage was in pounds and that, of course I was under the weight.
Fortunately, our layover was only a couple hours because there was no ATM or money exchange office in that terminal. I don't think we had the correct visa to go out of that terminal today. There is a restaurant and some stores in that terminal that will also accept euros and USD, but I doubt the exchange is very good.

In English 5-22-2013 12-43-32 AM

In English 5-22-2013 12-43-32 AM


In Russian 5-22-2013 12-43-23 AM

In Russian 5-22-2013 12-43-23 AM


Notice that when the city is in English the other information is in Russian and when the city is in Russian, the info is in English!

We had a very new Aeroflot plane for the 3.5 hour plane ride to Baku. Both the plane trips were completely full and several very young children. We were even served a meal between Moscow and Baku. Of course, that is an international flight, but I don't think we are served meals between US and Canada or Mexico now.
Baku is a bustling city. We just drove through on our way to Lahic, so I will get photos when we return. There are many new and beautiful buildings and construction going on everywhere. Also went through some older, USSR-era areas. Some crazy traffic in some roundabouts – but nothing like it is in Tirana, Albania!

My Driver to Lahic 5-22-2013 5-03-25 AM

My Driver to Lahic 5-22-2013 5-03-25 AM

My traveling companion had hired a driver from Lahic, and in his Lada he blared us through in fine fashion. Once out of the city, the land was all green rolling hills without a tree in sight. It looks like a combination of Tele-Tubbies hillsides and the eastern plains of Colorado or Wyoming.
View Outside Baku 5-22-2013 7-20-00 AM

View Outside Baku 5-22-2013 7-20-00 AM

Eventually the mountains begin with trees and frequent sheer vertical slabs of geographic strata.
View from Homestay Yard in Lahic 5-22-2013 9-23-26 PM

View from Homestay Yard in Lahic 5-22-2013 9-23-26 PM


Although I knew it was primitive, I had not been told that a car would not be able to get us to our host's home. The car stopped and we would need to walk the rest of the way. I had my nifty Go Lite duffle with shoulder straps, but unfortunately it still weighed 48 pounds. I shouldered it and then my traveling companion, the driver, and our Lahic host stood and started to talk and talk and talk. My bag was way too heavy for this so I started to walk and they said "just follow the road".
View of Homestay through the Gate 5-22-2013 9-25-51 PM

View of Homestay through the Gate 5-22-2013 9-25-51 PM


Today, when I go back down the road to visit it probably won't seem so far, but it seemed to be at least 1/2 mile. I passed two women with a small child. I did not know the name of my host or guide, so I couldn't get them to understand where I was trying to get to. There is one otel in Lahic, so they kept trying to get me to go back down the mountain to the hotel. I dropped my bag and decided I would figure out what to do later. Fortunately, the men soon came round the corner and picked up my bag and brought it the rest of the way between them.

I will need to find out if any more of this trip is going to be so remote. I had thought we would drive into host homes or hotels and stay for a couple of nights to a week. If our week touring Azerbaijan is going to be as remote as this, I will need to figure out a way to only pack a day pack for what is needed for that leg only.
Once again, I who like to think I know how to pack discover I can only pack when I go away for work and not for adventure.

Posted by pscotterly 22:22 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

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