The end of a lot, the beginning of even more

Baku Travel Blog

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Chris' house in Quba. We made pizza and mozzarella sticks. The pizza was about 50% jalepenos and destroyed my mouth.

I stopped writing in my blog over a year ago.  The problem was that my computer stopped working, and it was two months until I could get it fixed and by that time I had lost the habit of writing every day.  Another problem was that living in Davachi was starting to make me very depressed.  I was very, very depressed and drinking way too much.  I didn’t have any real friends in the community, in fact, most of the people didn’t want me there no matter how nice I was, and was having a very hard time.

To finish my Peace Corps story, I moved out of my host family’s house and into an apartment.  This was easily the happiest times I had in Davachi.  My apartment was dirty, poorly constructed and had paint chipping from the walls, but it was mine.

A party in the kitchen of my Davachi apartment. Good times!
  I had a balcony, my own bed, I could cook my own food and best of all I didn’t have to listen to my host family ask me for money every day or tell me what a bad person I was.

It was an interesting morning when I finally left.  I woke up extra early, already having packed my bags the night before.  At 5 AM I slipped out, left the key on the furniture they never let me use, and never went back.  The people I was staying with were not typical Azeris and should not have been hosting a volunteer.  The Peace Corps here in Azerbaijan generally do a terrible time placing people in sites, and do an even worse job finding appropriate host families for volunteers to stay with.  I’ll write another post about some of my misadventures with these people.

I also had people visiting me finally.

This is the food we ate. By food, I mean that we drank a lot of beer.
  This was very important for me because I had always imagined that people would come and see where I lived and experience my community with me.  Sometimes I would have parties, or I would make food with friends.  Some nights I would just sit on my balcony with a couple of friends and have drinks.

Summer came and I started travelling more.  I biked in Kurdemir, hung out in Ujar and spent a lot of time in Quba and Xachmaz.  I went to Besh Barmag again, climbed up to Qala Alta twice and was very active.  I kept busy and did well.

Then, I got kicked out of my apartment.  My landlady wanted to put someone in my apartment with me, without my knowledge and without my consent.  We argued pretty badly over this and soon she kicked me out.  The official reason was that a family was coming to live in the apartment, and she would rather have a family live there than a single American guy.  However, I heard a few months later that it was because I stunk, which is a common Azerbaijani complaint about foreigners.

I spent months trying to find a place to live on my own, and getting kicked out of there was probably what finally made me decide to leave.

I was also pretty sad because a grant I was writing was rejected by the Peace Corps.  I spent weeks on it, and whether or not I blame myself, I obviously wasn’t doing anything useful in the community.  I lost respect at school, and disappointed a lot of people, because the volunteer who was in Davachi before brought money into the community.  It is a shame I couldn’t get the money either, because the program I was going to implement would have helped the community quite a bit.

It was a low point for me and I had to leave.  I made the decision while I was travelling between Georgia and the US.  I went back to Davachi, started getting my things together, said some goodbyes, and then showed up to the main city, Baku, with all of my bags.

To their credit, the Peace Corps staff didn’t try to make me feel any worse about my decision.  They were supportive and helped me with everything I needed.  At first, I was going to travel around, wandering for a while, looking for a job wherever I could.  Then, at the suggestion of a friend, I applied to a school in Baku.  I was expecting to have to do an interview and probably not get a job, but within a half an hour of sending in the application via email I was offered the job by another former Peace Corps Volunteer working there.

Now I’m living in Baku, teaching English at a rich private Azerbaijani school.  I have my own apartment, people visit me, and I have a lot of friends.

Baku is an ok city to live in.  There aren’t a lot of healthy things to do to fill an expat’s time, but I have been able to find a lot of really good friends to help me.  I am an active Hasher at the BAH3 (which I’ll explain in another post), I see a lot of people around town and I only drink socially, which is a big change from my time living in Davachi.

I’ll write about Baku and my adventures in other posts.  Stay tuned!

vances says:
Hang in there, Corey...admire your perseverance!
Posted on: Mar 18, 2010
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Chris house in Quba.  We made piz…
Chris' house in Quba. We made pi…
A party in the kitchen of my Davac…
A party in the kitchen of my Dava…
This is the food we ate.  By food,…
This is the food we ate. By food…
photo by: RJawad