Azerbaijan – from Baku to Xinaliq

We depart from Baku in our rental car. We call him Shorty because he’s so small.

Unsurprisingly, the polished prosperity of Baku doesn’t extend far beyond the city limits. The landscape becomes more typical for the region.

Pumpjacks are a common sight. This is where all the petrowealth comes from.

Also known as ‘nodding donkeys’

There isn’t much to see in Quba itself. But we hear the 48-kilometre road to the village of Xinaliq is worth a look.

Just outside of town is a forested area, popular with the locals for picnics.

As we begin to climb, we see a shepherd using an ATV to herd his sheep with great efficiency.

The end of the sheepdog?

The road soon ascends through canyons and switchback curves.

Maria poses with Shorty.

A lone horseman checks his phone.

After two hours of driving, we reach Xinaliq.

According to Wikipedia, there are many unique things about this place. But it just looks like another rag-tag village to us. A spectacular drive, though.

On the way back, we pass several herds of sheep and cows on the road. And this guy.


We pass a more-elaborate-than-usual shrine to Ilham Aliyev, the president for life. (He’s the son of the late president for life.) Giant billboards throughout the country are erected by the Azerbaijani people as spontaneous demonstrations of affection.

‘I’ll be watching you…’

Back in Quba, we visit a Genocide Memorial. This is ostensibly to commemorate the victims of inter-ethnic strife in March and April 2018. The Azerbaijani tally is 50,000 victims. Less biased sources put the figure at 12,000. (And no mention at all that in September of that year, Azerbaijanis murdered 10,000 Armenians.)

All this occurs because of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Besides pulling out of the First World War, the former nations of Tsarist Russia’s empire were left to work out their destinies on their own. Usually with great violence.

There’s a fairly pungent whiff of propaganda about the place. It’s obviously designed to whip up anti-Armenian sentiment in advance of any future war. (Doubtless the Armenians are probably, with equal vigour, preparing the ground with anti-Azerbaijani propaganda.)

One thing that’s not in doubt – people in this part of the world spent a lot of resources in the first half of the twentieth century in murdering each other.

Sight or Insight of the Day

In Quba, we visit a carpet weaving studio.

Maria gets tutoring in the tying of a carpet knot from the manager.

She’s ready for her solo.

Tying the knot

Now there is a tiny part of this carpet that will be forever Maria.