Qobustan Climbing & Mud Volcanoe Plunging

>> Monday, November 2, 2009

This is a delayed post but Saturday, October 24th was an awesome day so hopefully I will do it justice!

First off, Qobustan. This city has been said to have drawings dating before the pyramids were built. There was a small museum and we had a tour by this really awesome Azeri man. We had one of our LCF's (Language and Cultural Facilitator) translating until we realized that he could tell us about the drawings in better English than she could. Tours are fairly boring to me so I had some help in making my time a bit more fun. Some friends and I all decided to climb. We jumped up some rocks and through some brush to a little pride rock-esque area looking out at the Caspian. The view was really amazing, and we were quickly accompanied by the PC Security Advisor telling us that we were in an area that we weren't allowed. But Jeyhun is super awesome so with a few smiles and a little encouraging he joined us!!!! We crawled through a little bit and though it's hard to describe, merely climbing/hiking around felt wonderful. We made a second climb and this time I found huge lizards. They were very close to my face and I swear these guys were at least a foot long and looked like baby dinosaurs. I'm used to the little 3 inch guys that do their push ups on grandma's porch, these guys not so much. I screamed. (Pic - Me up on the rock with creepy lizards!)

As the tour wrapped up we all looked at the plateau at the top of this mountainish landscape and figured that three time's a charm! There was absolutely no path and it was just jumping from rock to rock trying not to fall on my face. Well after a bit we ended up on the top and we all sat down to enjoy the view from the highest point at Qobustan. The first thing I noticed was the little town on the water, at least that's what I called it. The entire set up of the oil drills/wells/whatever made this little town like shape on the water. Very odd. After a few moments we walked around on the plataeu and reliazed that it was another world up top. Roman esque forms and even a shepherd with his flock moving about. It was such a great feeling that Jessi, Beca, and I all stopped just to lay down and look up at the sky and feel all sorts of magical. It was as if any frustrations we had went out the window, priceless.
The scariest part about this place was the "official" way to get down. We walked over to this metal ladder with an enclosure and at first it just seemed a tiny bit wobbly. That is because the top was more secure. After about 10 rungs you realize that now this tiny metal death tube is precarioulsy floating away from the mountain. But you continue on as your mind lovingly plays for you, the various options for your death. Needless to say I lived, but it was still a bit unnerving. (Pic - after our climb, looking out at the Caspian)

On to the pluging of arms, or in Tim's case...pants.
The mud Volcanoes are EPIC! I had heard about these, even seen photos but it is just surreal seeing this in real life. Imagine a volcanoe but instead of any remote heat, just cold. Also there is only greyish mud and dirt everywhere. There was a bit of a climb to the mud and on the way we found oil! I saw it and put my finger in it, because it seemed like the only thing to do upon seeing oil. Sure enough, it was oily. Thank goodness I had my super sweet Barbie wet wipes so it was contained on said finger.

Further on, when I got to the mud, I put my finger in that too. Such a weird feeling. I gave myself warrior face marks and wrote my Azeri name on my arm. Jessi and I wrote our names and AZ7 in the mud for bonding fun times! We were ushered further down to the tallest volcanoe. I ran up and saw that some of the boys had their arms in, I plunged mine in right after them. This has got to be the weirdest experience. You're arm is mushing around as your feet are caving in the side of this seemingly solid ground. Then you can bring your arm up and break the earth apart. I was moving the ground people! So liberating and empowering, too bad all I could say was, "This is soooo weird!" A few of us asked Tim to take a picture of us as we were way too dirty to do so ourselves. He obliged, then we turned to walk away. There was a yelp.
Tim fell into the volcanoe!
His fancy pants camera in air with the most terrified look on his face. Just as I turned I saw his other leg break through. I think at that point we all relaized that the ground we were standing on was the same that we were moving with our whole bodies hanging over. Tim's face might have made me realize that because his face said, "I'm going under." That's one way to make you realize you might want to be more careful, oh well. Tim is now legend as it was pointless for him to attempt to wash off, so he walked back to the bus waist down grey and wet. All in all an amazing day which ended in charading to my little neighbors why I was muddy. Hmom was more than happy that the first thing I said after hello was, "I need to shower. "
(Pic - Jessi, BEca, & I attempting to help Tim post plunge. Too bad our arms were covered)


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