Wandering #1 Part A: Masazir, the Graveyard and the Salt Workers
Masazir Travel Blog› entry 10 of 26 › view all entries
For weeks I had heard of the Masazirâ€™s famous salty lake. Usually it came from other Peace Corps volunteers living close to the lake in places like Saray and Masazir. â€śWow, walking down to the lake was so fun,â€ť they would say. I would ask â€śwhen are you going again, I would love to see it?â€ť They were going to let me know, but, like most good intentions, it never saw the light of day.
Then I was talking to my host family here in Azerbaijan and they told me of the men who go out every day and shovel salt from the bottom of the very shallow lake into horse drawn carts. So interesting was their story of these men that in that very same evening I started planning a trip over to Masazir.
The next morning I met Chris in Ceyranbatan, right outside of my house.
If anybody is interested, to get to Masazir from Ceyranbatan or even from Sumgayit, you have to get on a Marshrutka going towards Baku (which costs 50 qepik), then get off at the Masazir city sign (which you canâ€™t see if you are going towards Baku, you will just have to ask to get off at that point) and hike or take another Marshrutka back up another road. The Marshrutka going back up towards Masazir is 20 qepik.
We decided not to take the second Marshrutka, but instead walked the kilometer up the hill.
It was eerie in a pet cemetery sort of way.
After that, he also showed us what he called an ancient monument and explained to us, as best I could figure out, that the people would take plates and break them on the monument to ward off ghosts.
Soon he took us from the graveyard to the local mosque, which drew a sizeable amount of attention from the children. They followed us around asking me to take their picture and then asking me how much I was selling the prints for. Note that most photographers in this country take pictures as a street profession, so to these children they thought that anybody with a camera must have a way to instantly develop and sell their photos. Why else would they have a camera?
After explaining for the 10th time in this country so far that I am taking pictures for my own self and that there was no way that I could get a picture to them, Chris and I found out that we were lost in the middle of a very confusing block of land.
About 5 small twisty tan brown colored corridors later, Chris and I finally found a road which descended down to the lake. 20 minutes later we found Amanda down at the shore of a salty, pink lake.
First, we needed to find those salt workers. We saw large piles of salt down the lake a ways so we headed there. The first group of people had been working all day, so they were no longer in the lake. After posing for some pictures with them (and subsequently explaining that I canâ€™t actually make a photo and there is no way that I could get the pictures to them unless they had email, unfortunately), we moved farther up the lake.
I took a few shots, and then we moved on. By this point I had thought that maybe it had been years since the workers actually used a horse and a cart to harvest the salt and that they had modernized the process by involving a truck instead of a horse and that pictures of men shoveling salt into trucks was the best I was going to get. Notice how I just used foreshadowing to introduce the next part of the story.
At this point our goals had been met. I had seen the lake and I had photographed the salt workers.
We waved, we took pictures, we marveled at the pink lake, and then we walked up the grassy hill with all of our goals achieved. The top of this hill was very pleasant. You could see all of Masazir and all of another city on the other side of the lake (which we thought might have been Saray, another bit of foreshadowing). We spent some time up there, enjoying the breeze. That was when we noticed the huge mosque in the distant city and decided that we needed to check it out.
We walked through some almond orchards, saw a flower, plant and tree store and entered into Novxani.