I would say that I have finally settled into life in Baku. Back in the states, I would always take my daily routine for granted. It has taken me nearly a month to get into a routine and feel comfortable here i.e knowing which buses to take, estimated time of arrivals to and from places, places to hangout in, favorite cafe/restaurant, and figuring out suitable times to return home for my host family.
Last weekend I travel to the outskirts of city called Quba, it is about two hours north of Baku by car. The city of Quba is known for their apples and they were having their annual apple festival. As you could probably imagine everything was apple related, there were small children dressed as apples, apples in the form of the Azerbaijani flag, songs about apples, apple dances etc. It was truly interesting. There were tables set up with over 50 different kinds of regional foods that used apples in their recipes. I traveled to this city with the other students and a tour group. During the excursion we were basically adopted by this Azerbaijani family they let us sit with them during lunch and shared food and drinks with us throughout the voyage. They were incredibly kind.
The last stop on the tour was this lake about 30 minutes East of Quba, the water was a turquoise color (kind of looked like a quarry in the making). There were small children riding horses who were trying to get tourists to ride their horses. It was nice to be out of the city and in a more natural environment. On the way back to Baku our tour bus stopped on the side of the highway were these elderly woman were selling all sorts of crops. At the time I was having some serious digestion problems and of course in the middle of the road at night you wouldn’t think to find a restroom. I told the tour guide about my situation, he then told the driver, who instructed him to take me up the road. I of course didn’t catch most of the conversation because they were speaking in Azerbaijani (still figuring out the language). The guide and walked about 6 minutes up the road were there was this shepherd’s house. We walked into the front gate into the stone courtyard where we were greeted by an elderly woman and a small boy. The woman then went in the dark storage space that had crates filled with apples and chickens scurrying around, from there and old man emerge and he saved my life by letting me use his bathroom. It was a truly dire situation. But this was not the first time I have witnessed and experienced the kindness from the people here.
The following day I went to the Red Bull Soapbox Race in Baku, it was being hosted next to the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center. I never heard of these races until the day before. Who would have thought that Red Bull would hosting events in Baku of all places. It was pretty cool nonetheless there were many contestants, each with their own cart and theme.
This week we have rotated our language partners. Since there are five of us we each work with language partners in order to gain extra exposure to speaking outside of the classroom. Since we are in Azerbaijan and not Turkey, the language partner’s role is immensely important because they are native speakers of Turkish, which is something we are obviously lacking in Baku. My language partner of the week sells baklava, Turkish delights and other sweets. I have been going with him to see different clients and it has been interesting seeing the business practices that are implemented here.
I have also enjoyed visiting different stores around the city and seeing the products they sell. My classes have been going well they have started to pick up in intensity, which is good, it keeps me busy… Also a note on the Azerbaijani word “Yaxşi”, this would can literally be used in any situation good or bad. Though it is generally used as a response to “How are you?” in this context it would be mean something like “Fine, Great, Well, etc.”