When I mentioned to Sura this morning that I was ready to leave, he called his wife and she prepared a magnificent breakfast. I was almost forced to eat more and more. I successfully refused the vodka Sura offered.
The ride along the Alazani valley was easy, the road goes downhill most of the time. Not far from the Azerbaijani border I was invited to a couple of slices of water melon by some guys at the road side. I happily rested and chatted for a few minutes, as temperatures where soaring high again.
Rumor has it that guide books and maps that list the de facto-independent region of Nagorno-Karabakh separately from Azerbaijan will be confiscated if found by police. My Lonely Planet and my Caucasus map, both possible victims, were tucked away deeply inside my bags for today’s ride into Azerbaijan.
Well, crossing the border was easy. Three passport checks on the Georgian side, and two on the Azerbaijani one. No one was interested in my luggage.
The countryside is now considerably less lush than further north in Georgia. The rivers are almost dry. Temperatures reached 49°C (in the sun).
Had lunch in Balakən and then rode on to Zaqatala, where I’m staying for the night.
Azeris are extremely friendly. Many greet when I ride past (in contrast to the Georgians, who greet only after being greeted).