Our first road trip of the tour was to a town called Khachmaz. It was about 2.5 hours by car.
After leaving the high rises and thick traffic of Baku, the road flattened out before us in a long stretch of highway, and we started to see rural life. It was a common site to see a shepherd walking along the road with a small flock, and a staff while his sheep grazed.
Road trips are different here than in the U.S. As someone who spends most of my life touring, it was interesting to notice:
1) There are very few places to stop.
2) Everything is not all in one place when you do stop: we could use the restroom at one stop but drove further down the road to get a coffee.
3) Even though there are lines and lanes, many drivers seem to prefer driving in the middle of the highway. My guess was to avoid potholes which seemed to dot the right side of the road.
4) Bruce Willis advertises a local energy drink called “Hell.” Seeing his face plastered on these posters all day made us all laugh. (If you look closely to the left, you’ll see Hikmat photo-bombing in the window).
Our friend and team member, Naza, brought her son, Elvin, along for the day. He was high-spirited, taught us games, laughed really hard, said a few English phrases like “Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy,” and all around just brought a lot of life and joy to the day.
We arrived at the library, and setup our guitars at the American Corner. Rows of wooden desks, sun shining through the windows, and birds singing, it was a pleasant atmosphere for a concert.
We broke for lunch and drove to a remote restaurant on the bank of a river. There were emus, flamingos, swans, and lots of other wildlife in the wooded setting. At the end of piers, out over the water, were cabin structures with dining tables. It was a unique, fun spot for lunch.
Fargani ordered a mammoth feast for the table. Course after course was laid out before us: fresh, warm bread, sheep’s cheese, juice, greens, kebab, saj, and more. The band joked about the likelihood of playing our music very slowly that afternoon because of our full stomachs.
The concert was a highlight of the tour so far. The kids were SO excited to see us, had prepared signs, clapped and sang along to our songs, VERY high energy. One boy had even prepared to sing “Lucky Fin Song.” I handed the mic over and he sang the whole thing with the band in English.
After the show, Fargani took us out for a unique tea-time. We sat in a cabin and the air smelled of wood burning. This is a special way that they prepare tea. A special-tea, if you will (wocka, wocka!). It was served with an array of preserved cherries, and nuts in fruity jams. Very tasty.
I’ll look forward to sharing more with you soon about our last days in Azerbaijan.