Azerbaijani border guards

Lagodekhi Travel Blog

 › entry 25 of 30 › view all entries
Crossing the border from Georgia to Azerbaijan at Lagodekhi can be quite an ordeal. Georgia and Azerbaijan have very good relationships, but after seeing Armenian stamps in our passports we came in for extra scrutiny. Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia are frosty, to say the least, with 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory under occupation by Armenia (the region of Nagorno-Karabakh). Azerbaijan has responded by not only closing the border with Armenia, but banning the import of anything Armenian into the country. The Lonely Planet even has a warning in it that the book tends to get confiscated at the border. They say they don’t understand why, but it seems pretty obvious to me, they give Nagorno-Karabakh an independent section in the guide book, rather than listing it under Azerbaijan (for some inconsistency they list Abkhazia and South Ossetia under the Georgian chapter). Ahead of us a baggage search found some Georgian postcards, which resulted in an extensive conversation between the border guards as to whether the church depicted on the postcard was Georgian (acceptable) or Armenia (contraband). Looking back at my photos I’d be stretched to tell the difference. We inadvertently found a way to smuggle past the border guards - on opening a bag the border guard looked with mystification at a box of tampons, opening them up and trying to work out what they are. When the translator said a few quick words in Azerbaijani, the guard quickly shoved them back and waved the whole bag along without a thorough search.
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