Ishmaili Province, Azerbaijan
August 21, 2019
Having spent a few days mostly doing nothing in Baku, I decided to head to the highlands and the small villages there. From Baku I hopped on a marshrutka to Ishmaili. Courteously seated up front so I could take photos, we headed west.
The dry scrubby land dotted with livestock soon gives way to rolling hills. A patchwork of fields give way to more. This is a busy road with a lot of Baku residents heading to the hills in the summer. The road is lined with small stalls selling fruits, honey and the dried fruit in round pancake shapes.
I am a little late and wonder if I will make the last bus to Lahic. But in rural Azerbaijan I face the same smiling hospitality that characterizes rural areas of Azerbaijan. The marshrutka driver calls ahead and as we arrive, I am shepherded to the waiting marshrutka to Lahic. Seated again so I can take photos as we climb higher still.
At the turnoff, we enter a gorge. The good asphalted road winds through the gorge with high cliffs on one side and a drop into the dry riverbed on the other. Barely a trickle now, come the rains, these turn into gushing torrents. Once upon a time, the Silk Road caravans wound their way through this gorge enroute to Turkey from Asia. Look carefully and on the other side of the gorge, you see the path they used to take. There are still parts of the old walls forming bulwarks here and there.
A large herd of sheep march along the road like a stream. The sheepdogs do a good job of bullying them into place as we drive past.
We arrive in Lahic, a tiny town in the hills. Instead of dropping me off at the stand, I am dropped off at the door of the guesthouse. There is that hospitality and welcome again!