Stories from the Land of Fire: 1
Originally published on http://karabakhfoundation.com/heritage-center-online/blog/
The Road to Lahij
The trip was essentially set in Baku with a four day excursion into the interior with stops in the towns of Lahij and Gebele and overnight stays in the cities of Sheki and Ganja. This traveling required logging quite a bit of time in a
mobile sauna charter bus trekking
across hundreds of miles of varied landscape. While, yes, it was sweltering,
sweaty, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and at times frustrating beyond belief, I
think the opportunity was actually very valuable in allowing us
government-sponsored foreign tourists a glimpse at the real Azerbaijan. For
example- the road to Lahij.
Lahij smelled like a mixture of body odor, cigarette smoke, wet dirt, and mountain air- which was surprisingly pleasant! The village was an interesting surprise. Situated so remotely up in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountains, I did not expect the plethora of tourist shops and peddlers who finagled manat after manat out of us for spices, photos in traditional Caucasian costumes, and copperwares for which Lahij is famous(-ish). The real shining glory of the town is in fact the sewage system which is purported to be between 1,000 and 1,500 years old! In Lahij I met an old man named Bobi who spoke no English, but we managed to communicate in a mix of my broken Russian and the ever-popular passionate gesticulations of world travelers. He told me that more tourists come to his village every year than there are residents, that most people’s incomes were somehow related to the tourism industry, that he had lived in Lahij all his life, he pointed out a plaque commemorating the Japanese assistance in rebuilding the sewage system after an earthquake, and then he tried to sell me a copper bracelet. Bobi is a great example of the curious, proud nature of many older Azerbaijanis that I met. He was quick and interested in me and my compatriots, and eager to share his life and village with us. I highly recommend a trip to Lahij- if only for that incredible drive! Buy a cup of saffron for one manat, take a picture dressed as a Caucasian warrior, and find Bobi.