Zaqatala Travel Blog› entry 441 of 658 › view all entries
People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
I had never heard of a magic bus before, but today I got to experience one in person. At first glance one could be mistaken for thinking that the rusted orange shit box taking us from Qax to Zaqatala was just a battered piece of metal on four wobbly chunks of rubber. So what if its motor barely functioned, one really needed to look past the mere trivialities of the machine to understand its ability to defy quantum physics.
The interior had been partially stripped, leaving just a few bare seats, which gave the vehicle a stream lined effect. The other advantage was that it allocated more room for the gypsies and vagrants, who clambered on board with their countless bags, presumably moving home to God only knows where.
Now I'm no expert on time travel, but I can tell you it's a bumpy old ride and not for the faint hearted. Loud bangs could be heard, which one could easily have mistaken for our 'contraption' backfiring, but this was obviously incorrect, as such state of the art vehicles don't suffer from these problems in the 21st Century. As the rain came down outside I was flabbergasted that we were moving so fast that the buses mass actually disappeared, somehow allowing the droplets to fall onto me. At first I questioned whether the hole in the roof could be responsible, but then I brushed this idea aside.
As the automatic doors creaked and strained to open, I was amazed at what hardships this bus must have suffered to be in such a state.
If there had been any doubts in my mind that we hadn't travelled through time, these were soon dispelled when we arrived at Motel Gorush. The owner showed us through his restaurant to the rooms out back and I had to clear my ears when he only asked for 10 Manat ($12.50) for a room. Normally in Azerbaijan 10 Manat gets you two prison beds in a boxy room and thats that, but here we got an en-suite hot water bathroom, double bed, sofa, TV and radiator.
It was approaching 17.00, but there was still enough daylight to take a quick walk to the town centre for a look around. I was charmed by the colourful buildings that lined the leaf filled streets; it was just a shame that the weather was so bloody miserable. The town boasted a fine new mosque and also a slightly derelict Russian church, which really appealed to me. After taking a quick walk up to the old fortress walls we found a small eatery to buy a kebab from and then returned to our room for the night.
Saturday was to be our final day in Azerbaijan and I was sad to be leaving the place behind, as I had developed a fondness of it over the past fortnight.
Sadly we left the country on a bleak day, with rain spattering the marshrutkas windshield as we sped along the road to Balakan. From here we changed into a taxi and completed our journey to the border. Thankfully this crossing was a bit more professional than the clapped out bus turned office which we were greeted with when entering from Iran. Formalities were quick and we were ready for another new country day!