The taxi driver who brought us back yesterday agreed to pick us up this am to take us to the minibus which will take us to the border(at train station). At 6:30 we left Nata Hotel but once again due to language we went 1st to the wrong bus sta. He understood we were going to Baku but not via the border. We tried 'train station' where minibuses to border leave, then 'chug chug, whoo whoo' which did it and by 7 we made the transfer and were off to the border...again.
This time our only delay was that at each of the 3 chk points - especially where they stamped us in, the guards looked at every single visa...Bon thinks they were looking for Israeli visas??!
On the Azer side a bus was waiting and by 9 we left for Baku. It was definately not a Turkish bus but it did have AC for which we were very thankful, especially as the day wore on and getting off on breaks we realized just how HOT & HUMID it was! The outskirts of sprawling Baku at 6:30 - the road most of the way was under improvement to 4 lanes so the first 300 km went slowly. The landscape is flat, some agric but by enlarge the soil looks poor/obvious salt build up - lots of salt bush/tamarix where there is no tillage happening. Lots of sheep, cattle, and water buffalo. The land is so flat that water just seems to sit and get muddy. Off in the distance we saw low hills, very dry, rocky devoid of vegitation. All in all not much interest so I slept best I could. The bus stopped frequently dropping off & picking up until w/ in 200 km of Baku when the road got much improved - the 4 lanes completed!
Baku is "underconstruction" all along the coast - big road expansion, big sea side developments and up on nearby slopes many many 'condo' type concrete block bldgs. By 7:30 at the bus station we got a taxi to 1000 CAmels Hostel, the only hostel in town - in fact, the only really lower cost ON avail that we found. We met the owner who started it 2 years ago did so mainly because friends visiting him before that time he covered their ON expenses in hotels and found a lack which he decided to fill(he got his MBA in US). I had failed to specify our tardy arrival time so our beds had been given away but Boklool, the manager, was very understanding and set us up in a nearby apt. on floor/couch. Bon was unhappy w/ my oversight as well she should be. The apt is totally closed in (no outside windows) no air movement and no AC. Here it seems you must have AC to be comfortable - a fan barely has any affect it is so HOT & HUMID. The Hostel has AC, and since we are also booked w/ Mari as well for tomorrow nite, we will be much more comfortable.
We had no $$$ other than US so looking for an ATM unsuccessfully we retreated to the hostel after looking for just a short time. It is a tiny 12 bed hostel that is crammed into 2 dorm rooms, a tiny common room w/ sink and little stove, & entry from which leads a single bathroom. A deal for only $25 US per person, no breakfast or even toilet paper, but the next best option we found on line was over $100 US!!! This town is crazy!
We went out to get ATM $$ and eat breakfast...the rest of the day we hunkered down in the AC hostel...temp outside 45 degrees C.(over 100 F).
Now it is past 10 pm and no Mari!!!! No word from her...just hoping she'll be at the airport tomorrow morning when plane takes off at 5 am. We leave in a taxi at 3:20 am arranged by hostel for $25 US.