Quba and Khinaliq
We made 2 trips to Quba and Khinaliq, one with expats on a school trip in April and another with Graeme and Bronwyn in May. Quba is a small city in the north east part of Azerbaijan. We visited an small carpet weaving factory where we saw all size looms from small to ENORMOUS where it seems that ladies make carpets appear like magic from millions of tiny knots of thread. All dyes are made from natural substances, and there are an amazing array of colors and patterns. The women follow a small pattern and transfer the understanding to carpets of all sizes. Each region has is specialty patterns and interestingly, even though we end up buying our carpets in Turkey and Baku - one of them is from this region. On the trip in April, a bus takes the expats up a long, winding, mountain road up to a village named Khinaliq. The trip up the road is quite scary with hairpin turns, sheer drops, and even a wrong turn down a muddy road where we all have to get out so the bus can back and fill and turn around. The views up the road are wonderful with snow-capped mountains and sheep grazing in all the valleys. Once there, it is worth the trip. Khinaliq is the highest living village in Azerbaijan, nestled in the Caucausus mountains that divide Russia and the South Caucausus. This is one of the most continuously inhabited places in the world, with a history of over 5000 years. Because of the high altitude and remoteness of Khinaliq it managed to survive and withstand many invasions. This village of about 2000 people speak a language that is not spoken anywhere else in the world, although some of the villagers speak Azerbaijani as well. The village is made of twisting, narrow pathways with many houses built like a staircase with one roof on another's front door terrace. There is an Ethnographic Museum with samples of pottery, weapons, library. We stay for the night at a 5 star Rixos Turkish hotel and all wish that we had more time just to chill out here and enjoy the facilities! - But our weekends are usually packed end ot end with activities so it's back on to the bus the next morning for more adventures. There is a trip to Quba Genocide Memorial Complex with is a memorial to atrocities that took place in 1918 with mass murder of many people. Billy and I choose not to go inside - too much violence already in the world without viewing more. We see the Jewish village (the Red Village), where there are more Russian Jews than anywhere else in Azerbaijan. There are, of course, the usual dinners, lunches, teas along the way which are always fun and delicious. When we returned to the area in May, Graeme rented a car and we drove there. Bronwyn had not been on the first trip, so she wanted to see the carpet museum and the Khinaliq village. The trip up to the village was much better in a car, than in the large bus! We had more down time and stayed again at the Rixos hotel and thourougly enjoyed the weekend.