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to the lighthouse

wtorek, 31 października 2006 6:48
 The Artyom Island on the Caspian Sea, one hour from Baku by marsrutka, is an illustration of the environmental disaster caused by the extraction of oil. What is more, almost as if in return, the island shrinks; the village of Artyom (now called the old Artyom) eaten by the surrounding waters had to be moved and replaced by an accumulation of block of flats on the south end of the island.

On the north, there are remaining skeletons of the past life- corpses of cars, abandoned houses, a ruined school. But above all there is silence, interrupted only by the slow squeaking of the oil-extracting ‘nodding donkeys’.





  By the long bridge linking Artyom to the continent there is the lighthouse. Looking rather modest from the ground it gives blue blue views on everything around; unspeakably romantic. Even our taxi driver whose taste seemed to be limited to laud techno and dance music was utterly touched at the summit, where the lighthouse is. He even started speaking English, saying only ‘It’s so beautiful I don’t want to go’ with a trembling voice… J




there is Artyom gallery on the side



- 3.11. I have added more pictures to both galleries

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Xinaliq loveliness

wtorek, 24 października 2006 19:04

Xinaliq means 'the land where henna grows' as the surrounding mountains turn orange at sunrise and sunset. Fall only adds a ginger spice, and some ochre.


The way to Xinaliq zigzags through some cloud-catching canyons and over the strong Alicay river and its wide, pebbled backwater. There are several other villages on the way and even deeper in the mountains (like Laza, only accessible on foot or horseback) and one of them is Cek where we ate and spend the night. A traditional meal which was served by the 80 years old Ma (for some a grandma but essentially a Ma for everyone) consisted of litres of tea, served from a samovar and drank imperatively with sugar or at least a candy held in mouth and slowly melting, as the starter and followed by a plate of fried slices of potatoes eaten with fingers or with the help of the paper-thin lawash (a type of bread resembling a dry pancake). On the side there was: homemade cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers as well as fresh dill, parsley and sage.


The village of Xineliq is rather deserted at this time of the year as the majority of its population moves to the city to survive winter. We visited the tiny museum and had a stroll around. Here people speak their own Xinaliq dialect, different from any other Caucasian language and have their distinct origin traced back to the Scandinavians (or rather- Vikings). Converted to Islam in 7th century, Xinaliq people used to be Christian and before that- Zoroastrians; several holy fire temples can be found in the nearby surrounding, one of them, the natural Ateshgah (the sacred flame) still burns.


Back in Cek, we spend the night wrapped in layers of heavy, colourful wool covers. At night the sky was packed full with stars and the air cool sharp. We had breakfast of milk rice soup (yak!) and Ma gave me a pair of her hand knitted slippers as a gift goodbye. And I kissed her on her soft tired cheek I was so touched!





 Have a look at the Xinalik gallery. The picture which is 'X' actually opens when you click on it. I expect some comments this time :-)

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