I decide to try one more quaint mountain village in Azerbaijan: the town of Lahic. Although Lahic is just over the steep mountain range from Quba, there is, perhaps understandably, no road between them. Thus, one going from Quba to Lahic is required to backtrack to Baku, take another minibus from Baku to a town called Ismaili, and then a final minibus to Lahic. I calculate that I will not get to Ismaili in time to get the last bus to Lahic, necessitating an overnight stay in Ismaili.

The bus rides are uneventful and I arrive in Ismaili in the late afternoon. I check into the Motel Talistan. It is only 9 manat per night, but it is much more rundown than the Hotel Xinaliq in Quba. I am fairly certain that I am the only guest in the hotel, and the old, deserted hallways bear a chilling resemblance to the hotel in The Shining.

I have not showered for the past three days, given my refusal to pay in Quba and the utter lack of facilities in the tiny Xinaliq homestay. I go into the shared bathroom looking forward to cleaning myself. I open the door marked “shower” to discover a dank and dusty closet, with no sort of tap whatsoever. If the closet had once been a shower, it has not served that function for at least several years. Day 4 no shower.

Now very hungry, I walk into town looking for a cafe. As seems typical of small-town Azerbaijan, it is nearly impossible to find a cafe or restaurant. I find one cafe with a sign that says “food”, with three old men drinking beer at an outside table. I ask them if the cafe does indeed have food. One man replies, “No, no food. There’s beer, though.” I briefly consider drinking my dinner, before deciding against it.

While looking for a cafe, I pass at least a dozen men’s barbershops. Some of them are just small single rooms with one barber chair and a mirror. Apparently Azeri men eat at home and like to look good when they go out on the town to drink tea and play dominoes with other men.

I finally find a restaurant in the park where I eat some salad and some kind of mutton stew. I then return back to my decrepit, deserted hotel, half expecting to see two creepy little twin girls in my hallway.

In the morning the woman who runs the hotel puts me in a taxi to take me to the bus station. The driver overcharges me a manat, and only after he drives off do I find out that the buses to Lahic leave from a different part of town. A nice little goodbye “f*ck you” from Ismaili.

 

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